Who is an SMM designer, and what does he do?
We will tell you what the specifics of the work of a social network designer are and how to get into this profession.
The SMM designer is responsible for all their graphic content.
We analyze in the article what SMM design consists of and what a designer in social media needs to know and be able to do.
Tasks that social networks solve for companies
Social networks are often called the hallmark of a company, and for small businesses, they can replace the official website. Many users prefer to get information about the brand on social networks to read the latest news about products or lifestyles that are close to them in spirit.
With the help of the corporate public, the brand forms a loyal audience around itself, and the goal of such interaction from a marketing point of view is to buy the company’s product.
Another task is to create a community that shares the company’s values. Its members share posts, share news and forward what they like to friends.
To make the content diverse, memes, tests, and quizzes are published on the pages, short articles are written, and collaborations are made with influencers — famous bloggers, actors, and musicians.
Targeted advertising is the most effective tool for expanding your audience. Here you can specify not only the gender, age, and geography of the user but also note his interests and needs. This makes the message more targeted and, as a result, noticeable.
SMM design specifics
Features of work
An SMM designer can work as a freelancer and in an agency and often runs several public pages simultaneously. Therefore, it is important to be able to quickly switch not only between different brands but also between audiences. In the agency, the designer mainly works with accounts from large customers, but small businesses prefer freelance specialists.
A social media designer’s main partner in crime is an SMM manager or an SMM producer. This is the person responsible for creating and publishing all brand content. He gives the designer a technical task – a manual describing the planned content or task the public should solve. Sometimes the task arrives in a general form, and the designer has to devise a solution.
Also, the SMM team can brainstorm with the participation of copywriters. During these meetings, they develop ideas for the design of publications – the visual range and content.
Some agencies prefer the social media designer to communicate directly with the client’s brand team. This helps to understand the client’s brief better and make decisions more quickly.
To plan publications, the SMM team relies on a content plan. It schedules publications for the next period (usually one month), which allows you to coordinate and prepare future entries in advance. Usually, companies try to stay within the content plan, but there is an exception – the so-called situational posts. They pick up current informational events or memes; here, you must react with lightning speed.
Public posts compete with other business accounts, entertainment content, as well as news and posts from friends’ feeds. And the first thing that helps to highlight the publication and draw attention to it is the visual design.
Since the time for which you can capture the attention of the user is very short, the visual in social networks should be:
- easy to read: give an immediate understanding of what the publication is about;
- recognizable: to be associated with a specific brand and its blog;
- consistent: sustained in the same style and with a single concept.
The complexity of SMM is that the design is in flux, and images need to be done quickly. In this case, simple template solutions will be lost in the feed. An SMM designer needs to grasp trends and be able to put them into action right away.
You also need to understand the current formats and techniques quickly. In addition to standard daily posts, an SMM manager can include a game or test in the content plan, which requires a separate design. Some companies release their sticker packs.
Due to a large amount of bright content, the designer has to rely heavily on statistics when working on advertising materials – banners and promotional videos. Targetologists who manage advertising accounts indicate the audience’s characteristics in terms of reference: gender, age of subscribers, preferences, and interests.
Tasks of an SMM designer
The SMM designer is responsible for creating all visual materials that appear on the company’s social media page:
Corporate Identity for social networks
When an SMM designer creates visual content, ready-made templates greatly simplify this work. As a rule, they are spelled out in two main documents:
- It can be called a “passport” of the brand. It contains all the information about the mission of the company, its values , and design elements. In the brand book of a large modern company, there is always a section that contains ready-made templates for social networks.
Unfortunately, only large clients have such a document. When working with small and medium-sized businesses, you often rely on an already formed style without a specific description or on the customer’s tastes.
- This is a stand-alone guide that contains narrower guidelines for brand design. For SMM, a separate guideline can also be released. Social networks are often used to contact a younger, modern audience and therefore try to speak to them through more understandable images. The style described in the guideline may differ from the visual language that the brand uses in other communication channels.
Images for posts
Designers make pictures and animations in three formats:
- Horizontal images are becoming rarer now, as the main audience uses social networks from the phone. This format is often used only for previewing a link to an article on an external site. Such images are called open graph cards, created by the site designer but sometimes by the SMM designer.
- The square format or close to it is the most popular for post illustrations. Such images attract attention and look equally good on mobile and desktop devices.
- The vertical format is often chosen for postcards that do not illustrate a text entry but replace it. When creating them, a designer needs to consider the logic of storytelling and the technical requirements of social networks.
- Stretched vertical layouts are used for stories. Just like flashcards, they should consistently convey the idea across multiple slides. When working on a story, a designer should consider interface features — blind spots and scrolling mechanics.
Short vertical videos have been gaining popularity for several years and are now on almost all major platforms. Therefore, an SMM designer is often expected to have basic skills in working with video material. They include editing, design of titles and plates, as well as opening and closing slides.
Most often, the page’s design is radically updated only with the advent of a new guidebook. Sometimes this is due to the company’s rebranding, and sometimes – to its desire to follow trends. However, the avatar and cover can be changed several times yearly or monthly: for major advertising campaigns, important events, season changes, and holidays.
The design of the page includes the creation of an avatar and a profile header, as well as icons and menus where this feature is included in the interface. All elements should be organically combined and comply with the guideline.
At the same time, each social network puts forward its requirements for the size and format of images, so it is necessary to lay the possibility of design adaptation at the design stage. It is also important to consider that within one social network, there are several versions – desktop, mobile, and application – and the design should look good in each.
Advertising banners – in a professional environment, they are called creatives – are used in social networks for targeted advertising. These images, aimed at a specific audience, have several features.
- The designer knows in advance the audience of the ad. He receives its description from a targetologist – managing an advertising account, he calculates budgets and monitors statistics. Knowing the user’s age, geography, and interests, the SMM designer selects the banner style and uses understandable images.
- There are many different advertising formats on social networks: carousels, snippets, and vertical layouts in stories, so it is important to consider the possibility of adapting the layout to various requirements.
- Due to many bright posts and advertisements, social media users have a particularly pronounced so-called banner blindness – the ability to ignore advertisements. Therefore, creatives should stand out from the background of posts and immediately arouse interest.
- Social networks have strict rules and restrictions on the design of ads. Moreover, these rules often change: developers introduce new restrictions on creatives regarding text size, colors, and image format.
SMM designer skills
Hard skills – technical knowledge:
- Design fundamentals: color, composition, typography.
- Graphic editors: Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Figma.
- The specifics of the main social networks, their audience’s behavior, and the algorithms’ principles.
- The main sizes and formats of images in popular social networks.
- Technical requirements for creatives for targeted advertising.
- Working with video and understanding the features of short vertical videos.
- Perception and ability to catch trends.
- 3D graphics or the ability to draw will always be a plus.
Soft skills – universal skills :
- Working closely with the SMM teams of an agency or brand requires the designer to be able to negotiate and find a common language.
- SMM-designer works on a stream, and content needs to be created quickly. Publics can be very different, so you need to be able to switch between tasks quickly.
- The SMM team works according to a pre-formed content plan. The advantage of this is that the amount of work is predictable. Minus – you must strictly observe deadlines so the materials arrive on schedule.
- Sense of humor
- SMM-manager, creative, or copywriter is responsible for the texts on social networks, but jokes in pictures provide the largest audience coverage. An SMM designer needs a sense of humor to be seen in memes to create them.
- The designer must understand the psychology of behavior, the tastes, and the needs of his target audience – and be able to get into them.
How to Become an SMM Designer
Universities do not have special programs for the design of social networks, so you will have to combine two areas of knowledge: graphic design and SMM marketing.
Courses, including online ones, can also replace academic training in design. When choosing a program, it is worth considering the ratio of theory and practice, convenient feedback, and the opportunity to collect a portfolio during training.
To understand the principles of social networks, a designer will benefit from a course on SMM. In addition to the block dedicated to graphics, such courses have modules that talk about the specifics of the main sites and targeted advertising. Blocks on the strategic approach to SMM, user behavior, and the basics of storytelling will help you dive deeper into the context and be more conscious about solving problems.