The last time you were scrolling through your favorite social media channel, what made you stop in your tracks? Odds are it was a stunning visual that made you pause, think and react. In the social media world, good visual content is marketing gold.
Like a good first impression, an image that is on-point and attractive makes us want to know more. It draws us in and can be the key to starting a relationship with our target customer. It can illustrate how we are alike and how we have the same pains, questions, and needs. It will help you shine the best light on your product or service while engaging your clients. It humanizes your brand, turning prospects into friends.
You see, we are imaginative beings. Good visual content is emotional and compelling. It tells a story, sometimes without saying a word. It draws the reader in and, when done well, encourages the reader to share the message. Images that are “share-worthy” will help spread your marketing message to the masses in a viral way.
Consider the impact of visual content on social media:
Visual content can earn big returns for relatively little effort. An image that takes mere minutes to create that is shared on social media, can gain exposure for your brand’s message like nothing else can. Incorporate strong visual content into your marketing assets, and you’ll not only reach new customers but learn about what appeals to them as well.
Ready to up your visual content game? Try using these tools to create content that will connect with your customers. We’ve broken the list into five categories: image design resources, infographic tools, video creation tools, GIF creation tools, and meme generators.
Anyone can become a graphic designer with the tools available today, so there is no excuse to not include visual content in your digital marketing. Give these free tools a try.
This site is quickly becoming the go-to resource for non-designers to create images that stand out. There are templates for all social media platforms, as well as free designs and backgrounds. Use it to create a quick image or go further by creating an eBook. https://www.canva.com/
Looking for the perfect font pairing? Canva’s tool will help you choose fonts that look good together. https://www.canva.com/font-combinations/
Design Wizard is an excellent graphic design tool which allows you to personalize an image or video in seconds. It holds over 1 million high-quality images in its library and tens of thousands of image and video templates. One standout feature is the magic resize button, which allows you to change the size of an image while you are creating a design! Don't forget the integrations with Hubspot, Marketo, Buffer, and Intercom. https://www.designwizard.com/
With Fotor, you can edit images, create collages and create designs from scratch easily. It includes a library of stickers and templates to add pizazz to your images. https://www.fotor.com/
Photoscape is a free software download that includes photo editing tools as well as advanced options and a GIF animation tool. Unique features include a photo splitter, a tool to merge several photos into one, and a color picker. http://www.photoscape.org
Pictaculous is a color palette generator. Upload an image and get a matching color palette to use with your text. You’ll create an image that looks well-designed and is eye-catching. http://www.pictaculous.com/
Pixabay is our go-to site for royalty-free images. From stock photos to illustrations to vector images, you’ll find almost any image you could need here. https://pixabay.com/
Looking for an alternative to Photoshop? Try Pixlr. It offers many of the same features, without the price tag. https://pixlr.com/
With Place It, you can choose from a vast selection of templates to create social media images. The mock-up templates allow you to place a screen capture, for example, an image of your website home page, on a stock image of a smartphone, laptop screen, or mobile tablet screen. https://placeit.net
Ripl makes it super easy to add animated text to images for attention-grabbing social media posts. https://www.ripl.com
Looking for an image design tool that is intuitive to use? Check out Snappa. Similar to Canva, it offers an image library, templates, and pre-set image sizes to make image creation easy. https://snappa.com/
A free subscription gets you no-copyright, high-resolution photos you can use as backgrounds for your visual content and blog headings. Your images will look professional without the price of stock photo subscriptions. https://unsplash.com/
This app for the iPhone is a dream to use if you want to pair an eye-catching image with an inspiring or humorous quote. You’ll get more likes, shares, and comments when you create images that connect with your users. http://wordswag.co/
Infographics allow data to tell a story. They are one of the most-shared types of images on social media and are especially helpful for businesses that want to present complex ideas in a visually compelling way. Add infographics into your visual content strategy to build brand awareness.
Easelly provides a wide variety of templates and icons to turn boring data into captivating infographics. Their free option allows downloads without Easelly branding which makes this a great choice for marketers on a budget. https://www.easel.ly/
Create interactive and engaging charts and infographics. You can even connect live data sources to Infogram's infographics, charts, and visualizations. Embed them into your content for real-time, engaging data displays. https://infogr.am/
Infographics are especially useful for sharing business information, statistics and data in an intriguing format. Create content with an infographic, quickly and easily, and watch it go viral! http://piktochart.com/
Visme includes a wide variety of templates and graphics to help even novice infographic creators design compelling images and presentations. https://www.visme.co/
Looking for some design inspiration? Check out Venngage's article full of tips, image backgrounds, and templates. https://venngage.com/
Raise your hand if you made a purchase recently after seeing a video ad on Instagram or Facebook. You don't need a video production team to create engaging explainer videos or product demo videos for your brand. Videos are highly-effective at increasing brand visibility and attracting customers so they should be incorporated into your content marketing strategy. Brands can get a lot of mileage out of a single video. Videos can be embedded in blog posts, shared on social media, uploaded to Pinterest, and added to your YouTube account.
The following tools allow companies to create engaging videos with little or no experience, using templates, stock footage, and music. Customize them with your brand style, fonts and colors to create a unique brand message.
Animoto is a favorite of the SMA Marketing team. It's easy to use and includes several templates to get you started so even rookie video creators can feel confident creating their first video. Import your own images, video snippets, or GIFs to customize and brand your videos. https://animoto.com/
Create fun, animated videos using Biteable's colorful templates and huge library of Shutterstock images and stock video footage. You can also mix in your own photos or videos to create one-of-a-kind videos. https://biteable.com/
The unique feature of Lumen5 is its ability to repurpose blog articles, or any text content, into videos. Using AI, it will add images and video to the frames based on the text. Or create videos from scratch. The drag and drop video builder allows you to highlight text and drag it into video frames, then add images and video from their extensive library. https://lumen5.com/
With Magisto, take ordinary videos and make them extraordinary with captivating text elements and animated effects. Videos become stories with this easy-to-use app or online video editor. https://www.magisto.com/video-maker
Doodly is a software program that creates professional doodle, whiteboard, and chalkboard animation videos. There is a bit of a learning curve in creating doodle videos, but they are fun to watch and captivate an audience. https://www.doodly.com/
Animated videos are a great way to explain technical concepts in an engaging and understandable way to audiences of all knowledge levels. Powtoon's drag and drop functionality and use of templates and predesigned characters and props make it easy to create fun videos that are highly engaging. https://www.powtoon.com/
Learn more about creating engaging marketing videos in our article Creating Awesome Marketing Videos - It's Easier Than You Think.
Think GIFs are only for sharing pop culture trends? Think again. Businesses are using GIFs to engage with their customer base because they are easier to create than video and get a message across quickly. Adding in a bit of humor helps engage your audience, positioning your business as having a pulse on today’s consumers.
CloudApp offers a number of tools including a screen capture tool, screen recorder, and animated GIF maker. https://www.getcloudapp.com/
Upload your images, and EZGIF creates a GIF for you. Editing tools allow you to change the order of images, resize them and apply effects. https://ezgif.com/
Giphy, the most popular GIF tool, offers several features that make GIF creation easy, including backgrounds, stickers, and captions. If you aren’t feeling creative, choose from one of their ready-made GIFs and share directly to your social channels. https://giphy.com/create/gifmaker
Memes - those images with funny, relatable captions - are excellent visual content because of their viral nature. If you hit the jackpot with a meme that people love, they will spread it around the interwebs like wildfire.
Imgflip meme generator is a free online image maker that allows you to add custom resizable text to images. You can upload your own images or choose from their image library to create humorous memes to add to blogs or social media posts. https://imgflip.com/memegenerator
Use Imgur to create your own meme or browse their selection of memes. https://imgur.com/memegen
I Love Img's meme generator tool allows you to upload your own background or use one of their templates to create a meme. https://meme-generator.com/
So, there you have it - a list of easy-to-use tools to add to your visual content creation arsenal. Now, go inspire your social media niche with your message and create connections that convert!
Original publication date December 7, 2018. Updated January 14, 2020.
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