Top 10 social media design trends and how to use them
By Hermione Wright August 22, 2022
Apply these simple design tips to your social posts to keep your feeds looking current and clickable.
Whether you’re a social media specialist or new to the game, staying on top of trends is a great way to set your socials up for success. Are you an entrepreneur looking to drum up excitement around a new product? Or a small business owner ready to reach new audiences? Whatever your reason, read on for the top hottest social media trends gracing our feeds right now and tips on how to use them.
Social media can benefit your business in many ways, including building brand awareness and reaching potential customers. However, just like in every creative industry, trends come and go. Some top social media trends for 2022 include 3D design, pastel color palettes, gradients, and animation – and more are popping up daily. You can use social media design trends as a barometer for what people love to keep your socials looking fresh and evaluate which will work for your brand.
Why businesses need social media
There are many reasons why social media has exploded since its first incarnation in 1997, including the ability to meet new people, stay in touch with old friends, and share our lives with the world.
However, social media has evolved beyond a personal tool and is now an increasingly valuable platform for brands, businesses, side hustlers, and entrepreneurs. A great thing about social media is you don’t necessarily need to be a social media expert for the platform to make a big difference to your business.
What are the benefits of social media for business?
Of course, how you use social media as a business depends on the product or service you are trying to promote. However, some benefits can include:
- Building brand awareness: Whether you’re using social media’s free capabilities or opting for a pay-to-play method, social media can raise awareness for your brand, who you are, and what you’re doing.
- Reaching potential customers: Once your social media strategy is dialed in, you can grow awareness and convert views into sales.
- Cost-effective marketing: Social media marketing can be entirely free or a large-scale campaign – it’s up to you to decide how much time and money you want to invest.
- Audience targeting: Have you just launched an offering with a target audience outside your usual customers? Creating a social media strategy can help you to reach this new group and reap the rewards.
How does graphic design work on social media?
Now that you know the benefits of social media, it’s time to talk about social media design trends for 2022. You may remember the early days of social media when Facebook, for example, was primarily used to share text-based statuses about users’ days. Things have changed a lot since then.
Social media is visually-driven, so giving your graphic design the attention it deserves is one way to get those sales flooding in.
There are various graphic design principles to bear in mind with your social media campaigns, such as:
- Using brand colors consistently: Remember, social media is a visual representation of your brand and is just as impactful as other mediums, such as your website. So, keep your brand’s color scheme consistent across platforms.
- Choose fonts that reflect your business’ character: Make sure they’re legible, too!
- Consider introducing movement: As a growing trend, networks’ algorithms reward native video content.
- Remember size: Social media platforms have design guidelines, including information about optimal content sizes. Too big? It could take too long to load. Too small? It could be pixelated and affect the quality.
- Follow graphic design trends: Like social media, design trends come and go. Read on to find out some popular design trends taking over social media.
Top 10 social media design trends & how to use them
Here are ten not-to-be-missed social media trends for 2022. Have you seen any others that should make the list? Let us know in the comments below.
1. 3D design
Thanks to ever-advancing technologies, more and more designers are embracing 3D design! It’s one of the most eye-catching current design trends because it takes the weird and wonderful and brings it to life. For example, check out this eclectic piece on Instagram by artist Les Créatonautes. At first glance, the design looks so real you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s a new banana bird species about town!
The 3D design style is particularly versatile on social media, lending itself to illustration, photos, typography, and flat animation – an alternative to an expensive, time-consuming product video that allows customers to view your product from every angle.
For example, this post by Amrit Pal Singh demonstrates how 3D design can add depth and make an image bloom. Users can see more detail than would usually be possible with a static image. This technique could also work well as a teaser for a new product or service—you could zoom in on one element in 3D to keep people guessing before releasing the complete asset a few days later.
2. Pastel color palettes
It’s all about pastel colors right now! Subtle and minimal yet packing a punch, it’s no doubt these have become a popular social media post design style. The fact that pastels can blend with almost every shade makes this a versatile option and helps to make this one of the most popular design trends of the moment.
As you can see from designs by the Australian sparkling water brand, Recess, pastel colors either work well as a flat, block color or by introducing additional imagery or gradients. The consistent muted color choices represent a cohesive, defined brand even when the designs differ.
Alternatively, link-in-bio tool Milkshake combines clashing pastel colors to create a modern twist on a vintage, retro design style.
Gradients have been popular on social media for a while now and show no sign of going anywhere. Think back to 2016 when Instagram updated its retro-style logo to include a gradient—since then, this social media design style has picked up the pace.
Depending on what look you’re trying to achieve, you can keep gradients simple with similar colors or go crazy with contrasting colors. They’re also a valuable tool for adding texture to static designs.
Editor X’s animation by web creation platform shows how mesmerizing gradients can be when blended with pastel colors. The social media designer created the visual by combining a transparent video and fluid gradient background.
Gradients can also lend themselves well to an eye-catching background style when mixed with mismatching, modern typography, like the below. As seen in digital business community One Roof‘s post, you can create a modern rainbow effect by blending clashing colors with a gradient design style.
Animation can be an excellent tool for social media as it’s eye-catching, entertaining, and tells a story quickly.
Although there are many different styles of animation, a current social media trend is blending movement with simple animation styles and block color. For example, check out this nifty animation by the digital creator moov_studio, that tells a complete story in a couple of seconds.
The beauty of animation is you don’t need a feature-length film to grab people’s attention on social media—far from it! Subtle movements – such as swaying blades of grass or a dog’s tail wagging – will help this content stand out in cluttered social media feeds.
Remember, the first few seconds of your animation are crucial for capturing your audience’s attention, so feature your essential points or key messages up front.
5. Experimental Typography
We all know a picture tells a thousand words, but what if your words also create a picture? Experimental typography is all about creating attention-grabbing, atypical movement. Do you have an important message or product release? If you can distill your announcement into a couple of words, you can promote it using typography-focused social media templates. Check out this awesome example from animator pixrate.
Like designer Darren Yao’s stand-out example, this style lends itself well to blending modern typography elements with more retro colors and design.
6. Nostalgia Design
With experimental typography leading nicely to nostalgia design, you’ll notice some graphic design trends for 2022 overlap! Look how effective it can be when unique typography is combined with more retro design styles, for example, in this post by designer and illustrator Courtney Sonner.
Nostalgia design could also relate to more contemporary design styles, including Y2K and 90s. You may have noticed these styles returning to the catwalks, so it makes sense for social media design to follow suit! For example, check out this style by face accessories brand, EMBELLISH, that may give you the millennium bug!
Illustration is another popular social media design style. Stylized simple shapes are particularly on trend right now, so you could look out for illustrations and digital drawings following suit.
While designer Alaina Johnson’s work makes 2D shapes look like they’re lying flat on paper, Susie Esse‘s fun illustrations are very in vogue. These comic-book-style illustrations cleverly fight against the picture-perfect nature of social media. Intentionally rustic, this social media design style screams cool.
Sometimes less isn’t always more! The maximalism trend embraces excess and doesn’t shy away from color, patterns, and textures. Brilliant and OTT but elegant, this design trend is not to be overlooked.
Take some inspiration for your social posts from these examples by Frankie magazine – take note of the vibrant colors, disruptive design, and clashing color schemes. These are all valuable tactics for preventing potential customers from scrolling past your business.
Maximalism can also be about taking a color theme and rolling with it. Consider your brand colors and how you can adapt them for different social posts. Look at this example from brand and creative agency Pink Pony Creative. Purple is the leading color, with specific posts incorporating rich colors and textures, like gold and floral textures. There are many useful social media templates to help you with this.
As one of the most popular design trends of the last few years, we’d forgive you for thinking collage was a relatively new phenomenon. Artists actually began using collage techniques around 200 BC – the same time paper was invented! It officially entered the mainstream after 1900, with artists like Picasso making the method more popular.
Modern collage can include a magazine cut-out style, with rips or uneven photography and words giving the imagery attitude, like this example shared by Labyrinth of Collages, with collage used to add character depth. Collage is a great way to add a crafty touch to your content and associate your social media page with class and creativity.
10. Advocacy & Activism
There is an increasing movement towards brands having their say on today’s issues. And consumers are keen to listen – most shoppers say they’re more likely to trust or purchase from a purpose-led company.
Don’t be afraid to stand up as a brand for what you believe in and advocate for important issues. How you execute this trend is up to you, but there are many ways of expressing advocacy and activism in your content.
For example, this illustration by artist and mental health advocate, Haley Weaver, delivers a bold, empowering statement on environmentalism to capture people’s attention as they scroll. When creating content for good, think about messages people care about or may want to share.
You could also create carousels or add multiple assets to tell a story about a particular issue – like sustainable toilet paper company, Who Gives A Crap.
This style also lends itself to social media design templates – download a template in your chosen style, edit the colors, and add your own messaging and imagery.
Get started with social media design trends
We hope you gathered plenty of inspiration from these popular social media design trends for 2022! Remember to think about your brand’s core values and determine which trends work for you – you don’t need to try them all at once! Look out at other social media accounts for inspiration for more examples of how brands are following these trends in the real world.