It can seem daunting to take a text-heavy slide or list of bullets and turn it into something visual, especially if you don’t think you’re super creative. However, the first step is simply reducing the amount of text on your slides – and you don’t have to be an artist to do that!
Engaging social media graphics are a key part of any digital strategy, but social media is a beast that always needs feeding! Online platforms constantly demand new, eye-catching content to keep your products or services at the forefront of your customers’ attention. If you’re a small business or freelancer, keeping on top of social media postings can seem like an impossible task. But you don’t need a crack team of graphic designers for every Instagram post. You have everything you need with PowerPoint. This article will show you how to make custom social media graphics in PowerPoint by leveraging some of our favorite PowerPoint tools and our free productivity and design add in BrightSlide.
Why use PowerPoint? There’s plenty of online content creation software out there and options like Canva are popular due to their pre-built components which help users develop content quickly. However, there are a few downsides to many of these tools:
- You run the risk of your content looking like everyone else’s.
- The animation options tend to be limited.
- Lots of features, including branding options (like custom color palettes), are often only available with premium membership.
The likelihood is you already have PowerPoint and have some experience in using it. Not having to start learning a new program from scratch means you can start creating custom social media graphics straight away and don’t have to worry about watermarks or poor-quality exports from free versions of an unfamiliar software.
Today, I’ll be walking you through how to create an Instagram post in PowerPoint. Let’s get started!
Choose post size
Though PowerPoint is best known for presentations, you can actually set the slide size to anything you want. To do this, go to the Design tab, navigate to Slide Size and select Custom Slide Size from the drop-down menu. Here you can choose from pre-set slide sizes or set your own.
Instagram posts can be square (1:1 ratio), portrait (4:5 ratio), or landscape (1.9:1 ratio). As a portrait image or video takes up the most space on the screen it’s a good option for engaging causal scrollers. Bear in mind that you want your slide to be nice and big, so the quality is high when you export it as an image, video or GIF. For this project we’ve chosen 40cm x 50cm. This post is a great reference for the ideal images sizes for popular social media sites.
Set up your slide
Before you start placing objects on your slide, you need to set yourself up for success. One part of this is setting up a grid to help you design well proportioned, balanced slides. Read more about the importance of grid and guides. You can create guides in PowerPoint by right clicking on your slide and clicking Grid and Guides then Guides. You can add individual guide lines using the same drop-down menu.
Positioning these guides, however, can be tricky as there is no mathematical way to make sure they are in the right place. The easiest way to create accurate guides is to download our free PowerPoint design and productivity add-in BrightSlide. Using its Guides tool, select Create Guides, choose the number of columns and rows you want, and watch the guidelines change in real time – BrightSlide does all the calculation for you!
You also need to set your theme colors to make sure your post fits with your brand’s visual identity. To set the theme colors in PowerPoint head to the Design tab and under the Variants section, select Colors, then Customize Colors.
Click on one of the colors and select More Colors. You can choose from the color wheel or input your own RGB values. You can then name your new theme colors. Click here for a more detailed look at theme colors.
Before moving on to the next step, don’t forget to check you’re using the right font for your brand! We’ve got a guide to advanced typography if you’re interested in learning more about make your letters look their best!
Prepare your images
Eye-catching imagery is important for grabbing users’ attention with your social media graphics. If you don’t have lots of high quality photography of your own, consider using stock photography sites like iStock and Shutterstock or discover the wonders of free photography sites like Unsplash. We have a great list of other free design resources here.
Once you’ve got hold of some great imagery there are a few ways you can edit it in PowerPoint.
Crop to shape
You can crop your images to any shape in PowerPoint – including a custom shape if you want to get creative. To crop to shape, go to the Picture Format tab and under the Crop dropdown menu select Crop to Shape and then select the shape you want to use.
To get a more precise crop, insert your image and then insert the shape you want to use by going to Insert>Shapes. Place the shape over the area of the picture you want to keep, select the image, then the shape and use the Intersect Boolean tool to cut out that section. You can copy and paste the image multiple times to cut out various sections. See more on custom image cropping.
If you just want to use the main section of an image you can remove the background. There are a couple of ways to do this. One is using the Remove background tool in PowerPoint; you can find this under the Picture Format tab. Unfortunately, the tool is a bit hit and miss. If your image has a person in it then remove.bg is a great alternative background remover you can use for free.
You could also use the PowerPoint Freeform Shape tool, and the Boolean crop technique described above to cut out a larger section of your image. This is a little more time consuming but can generate great results.
Custom social media graphic layout
Now we can get on with creating the content, adding in text and shapes to make an eye-catching design. Remember to use your guide lines to place your content with care. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the social media graphics your favorite brands post or browse design inspiration sites like Behance. Because social media graphics are typically viewed on a phone screen, you want to keep it simple without too much text to make sure you get your message across.
Our example uses simple PowerPoint shapes and the Boolean tools to create custom shapes – clouds. Simply place the shapes on your slide, overlapping slightly, select them, then use the Union Boolean tool to create one new shape.
You can then change the fill and outline color of your new shape. We’ve used a slight gradient to create fluffy clouds.
Export social media graphic as image or animate
At this point you can choose to save the slide as an image. Go to File > Save As then change the file type to JPG. This will save each slide as a separate image.
Alternatively, you can add some animation flourishes to help your post stand out from the crowd. When you’re animating you want to keep it simple (nobody needs to see the boomerang animation…ever!), animations like Fade, Fly In and Zoom can all look great. Alternatively, BrightSlide has a built-in animation library you can pull animation combinations from to add a little professional polish to your slide. Go to the BrightSlide tab then select My Animations.
Export social media graphic as video or GIF
If you’ve taken the animation route, then the final step is to export your custom social media graphic. First, record your slide to time out the animations. Go to the Slideshow tab and hit Record Slide Show.
Once you’re happy with the timings, click File > Export > Export as Video or Create Animated GIF.
Check out our finished post:
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Olivia Kippax Jones
Senior consultantView Olivia Kippax Jones's profile
If you’ve been looking for one, this is your sign to kick those bad presentation creation habits for good!
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