Facebook. Twitter. Google+. Pinterest. Instagram. Tumblr. What do all of these platforms have in common? They all feature a stream of content updates dominated by images. According to March 2014 research published on eMarketer, photos accounted for 75% of content posted by Facebook pages worldwide, with a whopping 87% interaction rate from fans. For comparison, no other post type received more than a 4% interaction rate.
Whether you are using social media to connect with friends or your consumers, your audience is over 20x more likely to engage if you include an image. Think about the images that catch your attention when you scroll through your latest updates. How many of those images are bland stock illustrations? How many photos are poorly lit or out of focus? As a graphic designer, I can promise you that a bad image is never going to effectively promote great content. How much more would your audience engage if your content featured a powerful visual?
Take your presence from uninspired to click-worthy with these top tools for creating and sharing visuals on social media (no design experience required).
PicMonkey is an intuitive cloud-based photo editing tool with integrated sharing features. Described as “ridiculously easy to use”, this agile application is the key to creating highly shareable images. PicMonkey’s tool panel is extensive, featuring:
- Basic tools for beginners: crop, image adjustments, adding text, and collage
- Advanced tools for more experienced users: blemish remover, airbrush, clone, dodge, burn, and lighting effects
- Special effects tools: filters, stickers, textures, and frames
If you feel a bit lost, the PicMonkey blog offers video tutorials available to guide and inspire. I have a suite of professional photo editing software on my computer that costs hundreds of dollars, but I still find myself using PicMonkey for a quick edit and share on social media.
You’ve seen that infographics can do wonders to boost reach and engagement, but you’re not sure how to get started. After all, you would have to hire a graphic designer (like me!), pay many handfuls of dollars, wait a few days for me to finish the work, then head to each of your social media platforms to share your masterpiece. As much as I would LOVE to take those handfuls of dollars, there is an easier, cheaper, and faster way. Infogr.am is a cloud-based tool with integrated social share that helps take your data from dull to dazzling in minutes. Save your interactive infographic to your library, use the integrated sharing features to publish it to your social networks, or copy and paste the (provided) code in your blog post or news article. If you’re feeling adventurous, sign up to jump light years ahead of the curve with their upcoming video infographic tools. With a handful of pre-set layouts and countless chart types, the variations are endless. I dare you to create a chart that doesn’t look good.
You’ve retouched all of your photos to make them fabulous. You’ve made your data jump off the page with creative visualizations. What’s next? Tie it all together with Canva, a cloud-based drag-and-drop design application. Canva helps you to create stunning content for Web (or print), such as: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and so much more. Designing with Canva is as simple as:
- Choose a layout.
- Upload your images.
- Add your text.
- Add extras (shapes, accents, photo frames).
- Publish via integrated social share.
Don’t believe it’s that easy? Check out their step-by-step instructions here.
As a graphic designer, I frequently spend $40 per image, up to over $400 for a large-sized image. With Canva, if you find yourself needing an extra image or two, their premium stock library offers images for an incredible $1 each. A grid helps you to make sure everything lines up nicely. Toss out Comic Sans for good and take advantage of hundreds of gorgeous fonts. The Canva blog offers tips and tricks that even a seasoned design professional will appreciate.
Hiring a graphic designer will always be the best solution for consistent branding and stunning original content. But you have alternatives, especially if you are just getting started in the social space or have a limited budget. These three tools will help you to capture the attention of your audience with virtually no investment besides a little bit of your time. What do you have to lose? Get creating, then get sharing. Your audience will thank you.
What do you think folks? Could you see yourself using any of these tools? Have a tool that you prefer? Let me know in the comments.