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  • Writer's pictureJenny Henderson


Updated: Jun 20

A Brand Designer's Social Media Engagement Tips

The other day I was mindlessly scrolling on Instagram. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, just wasting time, hoping something would catch my eye. You’ve been there. We’ve all been there.

But as I would pause on certain posts and scroll past others, I started wondering what specifically it was about certain social media posts that were actually stopping my scroll? What were the notable specifics that were encouraging me to linger longer and engage with one post over another?

After a few more minutes of scrolling, it became quickly apparent.

Good design.

And I don’t mean big budget design—I’m talking about simple design practices you can easily adopt to boost your own social media engagement.



Before we dive into the good design strategies that will help improve your social media engagement, allow me to highlight the social media posts that keep me scrolling right on by. See if you’re guilty of any of these:

BAD DESIGN: Content That Keeps Me Scrolling

Over-Crowding and Cramming Content

Is it hard to breath in here? That’s the feeling a densely packed graphic gives me. There’s confidence in simplicity. Embrace those margins. Give images and text space to breath. It will create a positive user experience for your audience.

Over-Used Canva Templates

This doesn’t happen too often, but it does happen. I saw the same Canva template used by two different brands within days of each other.

This isn’t bad per se, but it does let you peer behind the curtain of the business a bit. It becomes immediately apparent that it isn’t original content. They aren’t creating a unique experience that is an extension of who they are. Unfortunately, seeing these similar posts back-to-back immediately lowered my impression of those accounts. Sorry, but it’s true.

Generic Inconsistent Content

If your inclination is to use an inspirational quote with graphics or imagery that have nothing to do with your brand identity, you’re better off not posting at all. Unfortunately, this type of social media content expired in 2012.

Basic Stock Photography

There’s a lot of great royalty-free stock photography available online for business owners. A true blessing. But selecting images with no real care to how they all work together or how they represent your brand does nothing for building trust. I comb through a ton of stock imagery in my role as a designer… and when I see the overly staged images in my feed, I keep scrolling.

Wordy Headlines

Nobody has the bandwidth to read lengthy literature, let alone absorb it. Less is always more when it comes to social media engagement. Lead with a brief hook and elaborate on the next slide of your carousel post. It helps with memorability and encourages engagement.

Hard Sell Promises

The conversation around engagement-bait is getting stronger. Audience’s are tired of headlines that are always leading with lofty promises just to land a sale. It’s cringy and tasteless. Headlines like “Earn $15K months working 12 hours a week”, will always have me scroll right past.

For each of these bad design examples, I’ve got a good design opposite below.

social media engagement dos and don'ts


If you really want to boost your social media engagement, your visuals and your content need to be so great that they stop your ideal client’s fast-scrolling thumb on screen. To do this, you need novelty to break through the monotony of social media platforms.

If you’re looking for ways to make your audience linger longer on your social media posts, start with these creative principles.

GOOD DESIGN: Content That Stops My Scroll

Simplicity and White Space

If there’s one design principle I want every business owner to take seriously, it’s white space. This isn’t literal white space. It just means breathing room. Giving your headlines, copy, and images space to breath is literally a breath of fresh air. It gives your eye a place to pause, making the information you’re presenting easier to absorb. And when done correctly, it will guide viewers to the areas you want them to go.

Just look at the two comparable examples below.

The bonus of embracing simplicity to boost your social media engagement is that instead of cramming everything into one post, break up your content into multiple frames of a carousel post. This encourages engagement and makes your brand look way cuter.

Novelty and Originality

I realize not everyone is a creative or is at a place in their business where they can hire a creative, but one of the best ways to cut through the noise and get noticed is to break away from templates and trends. Audiences are CRAVING original content.

Don’t look to your peers for inspiration, that will just have you adding to the sea of sameness. Be bold and trust yourself to do things differently. Your audience and your social media engagement will thank you for it.

Familiar Content From Brands I Love

You may think this contradicts my last point of novelty and originality. But hear me out. Novelty is about getting noticed by breaking the mold. Novelty is how you hook people in and invite them into your brand universe.

Then it’s about transitioning that novelty into familiarity with your growing audience. To sustain your social media engagement, you want your content to be easy to recognize so those people who LOVE your content can spot it with ease as they scroll mindlessly on their phones.

This is much easier to do when you’ve crafted a brand style that is uniquely and distinctly you. This is what I help clients do and would love to help you do too.

Compelling Photography

You don’t need to be creative to have a compelling brand experience. Using compelling photography as a storytelling tool in your marketing is a surefire way to increase your social media engagement. Yes, original photography is great if you can budget for it. But there are huge, growing libraries of free stock imagery at your disposal.

The key is taking the time to actually curate the right stock library for YOUR brand. It takes some digging and it takes some strategy to understand what the right look and feel you want to convey through your brand will be. But when you can infuse something new and clever that reflects your brand vibe, you’ll be amazed how it transforms your brand experience and engagement.

Just look at how these free stock images I sourced for the Sober Shaman brand identity help tell the story and set the tone behind the brand. These compelling images encourage engagement.

Easy to Read Headlines

Brevity is your best friend. To grab the attention of your audience as they scroll through their feed, use a headline they can register within a second. Make it short, sweet, and easy to repeat. It’s the only way you’ll have a chance to get them to linger longer on your social media post.

A Unique POV

Okay, this one isn’t about design. But if you want to boost your social media engagement to grow your business, embrace your unique POV. Again, it’s about breaking through the mundane online and offering your audience something truly original. This is what audiences are looking for. They want a brand that is making them think differently about what’s possible. Learn to trust and embrace your unique point of view. And then lean into it!

PODCAST RECOMMENDATION: If you really want to boost your social media engagement, be sure to add Good Content to your podcast list. Shannon McKinstrie is the queen of social media engagement tips!


The way I market my business on social media has changed. I used to think, especially as a creative business owner, that I should put all my time and energy into Instagram. Probably because it’s where I hang out the most.

But as Instagram’s algorithm evolves (all too often, I might add), it’s become very apparent that most of my new clients don’t even come from Instagram. So this year I’ve been migrating my marketing efforts to focus more on the platforms that do see high-converting engagement.

The platforms I get the most content engagement from in 2024 are:


  • The reach and the lifespan of your content is not to be underestimated.

  • Between January and May of 2024, my total audience has been just under 1.2 million on average per month. PER MONTH!

  • Pinterest has become my leading website traffic source.

  • Pinterest continues to lead to booked calls and new clients.


  • The social media engagement on LinkedIn is what Instagram used to be like before Reels. Simpler.

  • People there are genuinely interested in learning and engaging, not looking for quick wins. A perfect platform for qualified clients—depending on your industry of course.

  • New clients have found me simply by searching for “brand designer” or “brand strategist”.

  • LinkedIn brought me two new clients in four months—including my highest project price to date.

So before you start creating a new strategy for engagement, ask yourself: what are the social media platforms that will provide meaningful engagement for my business?

Maybe it’s not that the market is saturated, maybe it’s just that the social media platforms you’re choosing to market on are too saturated.

And don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of starting fresh on a new platform. When I began my pivot to market on LinkedIn, I was just repurposing content that I’d created for Instagram over the years. My Content Marketing Planner made this transition a 1000x easier. Every caption and post was already there, ready for me to repurpose to LinkedIn. And it’s paid off big time. My social media engagement there has landed me more clients and has grown my network and my audience. And that’s all possible for you too.

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jenny henderson's tips on social media engagement

Jenny Henderson Studio develops memorable brand experiences and strategic brand foundations to improve recognition and revenue for service-based small businesses.


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