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How to Use Social Media Icons Correctly (And Our 13 Favourite Sets)

Blog / Dec 31, 2020

How to Use Social Media Icons Correctly (And Our 13 Favourite Sets)

Arianna Gismondi
Junior Social Media Strategist

Social media icons are a vital part of your marketing strategy.

You need icons to promote your social channels at touchpoints like your website, blog, email campaigns, and even IRL places like business cards.

But if you’re thinking of throwing a chic spin into Twitter’s logo so it matches your brand’s aesthetic, you might want to rethink that idea.

Social media platforms take their branding seriously. Most importantly, they invest a ton of money into enforcing trademark violations against and misuse of their logo.

Creating your own icons isn’t completely off-limits. You just need to understand each platform’s unique guidelines.

We also included a handful of safe and attention-grabbing icon sets you can download and use right away.

Yes, How You Use Social Media Icons Matters

Bear in mind, none of the following qualifies as legal advice. It’s for informational purposes only.

Social media websites don’t sell physical products or services. Their entire livelihood is built around the app’s features and the branding associated with it.

Branding – specifically that of logos and colours – is absolutely essential for each social media company. Their logo defines who and what they are.

Do you remember what Twitter looked like back in 2006? Or should I say Twttr.

Aside from the edgy graffiti font and “whats in yr head,” the logo alone makes a statement about who and what the app is for: It’s trendy, casual, and quick.

Clearly, Twitter has gone through some rebranding over the years. Today, you can’t even hear the word “Twitter” without that iconic blue bird immediately coming to mind – and that’s the whole point.

Just think about how we use social media. We don’t scroll through a list of app names on our phones. We tap minimalist social media icons from our app screen.

What I’m trying to say is, social media brands – like all brands – take their logos seriously. Each logo is copyrighted, often in multiple countries, and applicable under relevant trademark laws.

And as some of the wealthiest companies in the world, these social media companies have the resources to find and respond to misuse of their logo.

Sure, you might not get hit with a court summons or fine right away. A cease and desist is more likely to come first – but why take your chances?

How to Use Social Media Icons Properly for Each Platform

You really don’t need to wing it when designing social media icons because each brand lays out specific guidelines very publicly.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram – all these brands want you to use their logo and even put your own spin on it within reason.

They just want to ensure your creation reflects their logo as they intended. That’s why each brand has its own rules.

Guidelines for Facebook Social Media Icons

Remember, Facebook and Messenger are technically two different apps, so Facebook has unique guidelines for each. According to Facebook, using any kind of logo you found online isn’t appropriate unless it comes directly from the Facebook asset pack.

Here are the general rules as they apply to the trademark F:

  • Use only the signature F logo – not the Facebook Inc wordmark – to promote your Facebook page.
  • Maintain shape, colour, and proportions: Don’t stretch, flip, or bedazzle the logo.
  • Keep sufficient space around the F logo so it’s easily visible.
  • Black and white is okay if Facebook’s official colour isn’t available.

Facebook

Guidelines for Instagram Social Media Icons

Instagram calls its icon the “glyph” and it prefers you use this basic icon over the colourful app icon.

  • Instagram says it recommends using the glyph in black and white.
  • However, Instagram also says you’re allowed to publish the glyph in any colour you please provided the shape and proportions remain the same.
  • Use proper whitespace around the glyph.
  • Don’t warp or distort the glyph.

According to Instagram, you should use a black and white glyph outline to promote your business. Only use the colourful app icon if you’re encouraging someone to download the app.

Guidelines for YouTube Social Media Icons

Like most social media brands, YouTube has rules both about how you use the logo itself and how you mention the brand’s name within a sentence.

  • Include adequate buffer space between the logo icon and text.
  • Don’t use any colours other than black, white, and red to create a YouTube logo.
  • A black or white monochrome social media icon is okay for certain backgrounds.
  • Don’t add any shadowing, animation, or embellishment.
  • Don’t use the YouTube logo as part of a sentence.
  • Choose either a black or white YouTube logo based on the background colour.
  • Don’t add any patterns to the logo.

YouTube

Guidelines for LinkedIn Social Media Icons

LinkedIn offers convenient asset packs in both English and Chinese to ensure their logo and icons are used properly across the web.

  • LinkedIn prefers you use their signature blue, but it’s okay if you use white or black should the situation call for it.
  • Unique and important point: LinkedIn requires that you use the ® mark next to every logo application, provided it’s large enough to see.
  • As usual, LinkedIn doesn’t want you to change the colours, stretch, or distort its logo.

The professional social media platform also has specifically strict rules as to its whitespace surrounding various pieces of its logo. Instead of paraphrasing and getting something wrong, it’s easier to just post its screenshot here:

LinkedIn

Guidelines for Twitter Social Media Icons

Respect the bird! Don’t alter the bird! Twitter has a somewhat different logo compared to most social media companies, so its brand guidelines on proper logo use are pretty extensive.

Here’s a summary of rules about the bird alone:

Twitter

Like other social media companies, Twitter doesn’t want you to distort its icon or change the colours. However, keep these important factors in mind as well, as they are related to the bird specifically.

  • Don’t animate the bird.
  • Don’t make the bird chirp or fly.
  • Don’t include any additional animal creatures.
  • Don’t anthropomorphise (add human traits to) the bird.

Twitter also has a ton of misuse examples. I guess the bird just begs to be altered.

Twitter

Guidelines for Snapchat Social Media Icons

According to Snapchat, the ghost logo represents the true spirit and personality of the brand. Specifically: simplicity, spontaneity, and a blank canvas.

Snapchat also says the ghost’s charm lies in its simplicity. That’s why they don’t want you to colourise or animate the ghost unless you’ve contacted them for permission.

The social media app also has a clear request for using its ghost against a black background. The “white stroke” logo as Snapchat calls it is important to keep the proportions correct:

Snapchat

Guidelines for TikTok Social Media Icons

At this point, TikTok doesn’t appear to have a public set of brand asset guidelines.

Since we can’t find anything specific right now, let’s look at the general TikTok logo and make some conclusions:

TikTok

We could reasonably assume that:

  • TikTok wants you to use black, white, and the signature blue/pink colours.
  • Make sure you keep the correct proportions around the main logo and its shadows.
  • Keep enough whitespace between the text “TikTok” and the logo icon.
  • Use a standard black or white monochrome logo when the colours aren’t available.

Where Do You Find and Download the Social Media Icons You Need?

Pretty much any stock photo website that offers vector graphics will have plenty of downloadable social media icons for every site you could possibly need.

Keep in mind, these stock photo sites might not have the time and resources to verify that every icon set abides by the respective brand’s logo guidelines. In many cases, the stock site might not even know there’s an issue until Twitter or Facebook contacts them for removal.

Some vector sites or user-generated sites with unique social media icons include:

13 Cool Social Media Icons, Examples, and Buttons We Love

Please use these at your own risk in your marketing materials or as inspiration to create your own social media icons.

Always reference the guidelines above via the links for the latest updates to proper logo usage and misuse. Have fun!

1. DesignBolts Shaded Bold Social Icons

2. Vecteezy Social Media Sticker Icons

3. Medialoot Ultrathin Social Icons

4. Printkeg Flat Social Media Icons

5. iOS7-Style Social Icons

6. Advanced Flat Social Media Icons

7. Simple Line Social Icons

8. Ribbon Social Media Icons

9. Freepik Hand-drawn Icons

10. Christophe Kerebel Outline Social Icons

11. Adobe Muse Black and White Icons

12. Blogtacular Geometric Hexagon Social Media Icons

13. Publicons Simple Round Big Social Media Icons

Why Not Create Your Own Social Media Icons?

Anyone can create their own social media icons. If you have design experience, give it a shot yourself so you have something totally unique to your brand. Remember, your social icons will go on every piece of marketing you send, so try to keep them consistent.