Creative pros need social media too!

social media icons on a rainbow of chalk

If you’re a design professional, you’re probably familiar with how social media is driving change in our industry. As print budgets continue to shrink, our clients are looking to social media to increase the reach and effectiveness of their products. From websites to online marketing materials, infographics, and more, we are designing the content shared on social media. Unfortunately, even though we spend hours and hours creating content for our clients, we often fail to manage our own professional presence online.

According to The Creative Group, companies aren’t just investing more dollars into social media marketing—they’re looking to hire designers with experience and expertise in this area to lead social-centric marketing campaigns. It’s not enough to have an online portfolio of work you have done for other campaigns. You need to show that you’re savvy with social by managing your presence on both personal and professional platforms.

Get started with these 5 simple steps:

Step 1: Get a professional looking headshot.

lawyer dog

We became designers because we are creative, and that often includes how we express ourselves. While that photo of you in a tophat and oversized clown sunglasses is funny to anyone who knows you, it’s not the best first impression for a conservative potential client. Play it safe and use a professional headshot on any client-facing platforms (such as LinkedIn, your professional blog, or your portfolio site). You can let your freak flag fly once you’ve had a chance to gauge your audience.

Step 2: Actively moderate your presence.


The people who review your online presence are doing so with a (very) critical eye, and you should do the same. Google yourself, then delete away any questionable content. Review and edit everything before you share. Proofread your updates to avoid misspellings and unintentional grammatical errors. “Like”, share, or retweet content carefully, avoiding posts that can be taken out of context. Delete inappropriate comments or posts by others to your page. Keep alcoholic beverages and questionable scenarios out of your photos. (Bonus points if you crop and edit your photos for social media just as you would for one of your clients.)

Step 3: Keep an up-to-date online portfolio.

online portfolio

If you don’t have an online portfolio, stop reading and go make one right now. If you have a portfolio that hasn’t been updated in more than a month, add your latest projects today. Add a reminder to your calendar for every Friday. Before you check out for the weekend, see if you have anything new worth sharing. I recommend using a site like Behance, which is as much a social media community as it is a portfolio site. You can share your work, connect with other creatives, and keep up with trends all in one place.

Step 4: Curate content.


Pinterest, StumbleUpon, and Flipboard are natural fits for graphic designers. Use these tools to collect content that inspires you, whether it be typefaces, poster designs, infographics, or photographs. Sharing your personal style is the key to connecting with clients that share your vision.

Step 5: Use LinkedIn.


I don’t mean “create a profile and add connections when you get an email requesting confirmation.” LinkedIn is where non-design professional go to research and recruit talent. Set yourself apart from the crowd with some of these best practices:

  • Spend ten minutes a day growing your presence. Connect with clients and peers, update your resume with your latest projects, join groups related to your industry for news and updates, follow companies you are interested in working with, endorse someone, or write a recommendation (and hope they return the favor).
  • Optimize your public profile. Use your professional head shot for your profile photo. The valuable real estate to the right of your photo is the one part of your profile that everyone can see in the search results. Use a meaningful job title, and include a link to your portfolio if you are freelancing or job hunting.
  • Flesh out your LinkedIn profile with all of your skills and education (including coursework). Don’t assume that everyone knows a graphic designer can use Illustrator or Photoshop.
  • If a job went particularly well, don’t be afraid to ask the client or project manager for a recommendation.
  • Demonstrate thought leadership by sharing industry news and trends, noteworthy articles, or your latest published project.

Final thoughts

Your goal is to use your personal presence to show that you have the knowledge and expertise to successfully grow and maintain a social media presence across a variety of platforms, and better yet—that you can do it beautifully.

Did any of these tips surprise you? Do you think they are manageable steps to getting started with social? What are your top tips to a better social media presence? Let me know in the comments.


4 thoughts on “Creative pros need social media too!

  1. Great write-up! In your industry, just as you have emphasized in your posting, one has to have a great digital presence to represent the work they’ve created and themselves (as this can be so illustrative of their creative palate). In particular, I enjoyed that you recommended the better fitted sites for those in your industry with which to represent themselves/their work.

    This may be a rather obscure question –
    As a graphic designer, if you could quantify an appropriate proportion between personal and professional content/information on these sites, what would be that proportion (%)?


    • Hi John,

      It really depends on the intended purpose of the site. For example on LinkedIn, I would expect it to be 90/10 professional to personal ratio, with the “personal” content really skewing more towards your interests rather than something like family news or what you had for lunch. In contrast, on Twitter, I think 50/50 would be completely understandable. On Twitter, if I don’t see some personal content and real personality shining through, I find the user way too one-dimensional to follow. On a site like Facebook or Instagram, I would expect to see only the occasional professional update.

      It’s my humble opinion that you look stronger as a professional if you give people a sense of who you are when you are not working on the platform where it is most appropriate. It helps you to forge stronger connections and find people to network with that you can relate to on more than one level. Similarly, on my personal sites, I give friends and family a preview of who I am as a professional by sharing a project I am especially proud of. No matter what site, you should never post something that is questionable from a professional standpoint. Share your vacation photos, but save the photos of you tipping back a 3 foot margarita for your personal albums. 😉

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