The ever-growing preference for visual, instead of text-based, social media content will not be a huge surprise to many, particularly those working in communication, public relations and marketing fields. Presently, when it comes to written copy on social media, less is definitely more, and this increasing appetite for the visual has required social media content producers to adapt, and quickly.
However, for those of us who have spent our careers perfecting written communication skills, how can we suddenly become adept in graphic design, digital photography and video production? We may never be at a professional skill level without specialised training, however, here are four tools that may help to produce great visual social media content with limited expertise, and an even smaller budget.
Canva (Graphic Design)
Canva is an a amazingly simple website (and app) that helps you to create professional-looking graphic designs for most mainstream social media platforms such and for a wide range of other documents. It is free to use if you only use the free design and image options, but is relatively inexpensive if you decide to pay for some of the other components available. You can also upload your own images so your designs can be completely customised to your own requirements. Canva also allows you to download your designs into a range of formats such as print quality pdfs and jpgs. It is extremely user friendly and there is a lot of support available to assist you if you need some help.
Biteable (Animated Infographics)
Infographics are liked and shared three times more than other types of social media content. Video is also popular, with 64% of social media users reporting that they are more likely to purchase a product online after watching a video about it. Biteable helps you to merge these two popular mediums by creating awesome video infographics. Statistical information and key messages can be communicated in a current and visually appealing way through the wide range of scenes, transitions and music available on Biteable. It is also very user-friendly and is a free website if you don’t mind the Biteable watermark appearing on your infographic.
WeVideo (Video Editing)
Whether you opt for live streaming or an edited piece, including video in social media content is vital. One third of all online activity is spent watching video and 92% of internet users report sharing video with other people in their network. However, creating compelling videos for social media can be tough if you are unfamiliar with the process. It is good to take a few online tutorials to learn the basics and YouTube has many. There are also loads of free online video editing websites available. WeVideo is one option that is user-friendly and allows you to upload video and audio tracks. It is free, but for a small annual fee ($69 currently) users can have access to a wider range of features, larger storage and an additional license. WeVideo is also a collaborative platform, so that more than one approved user user can work on the same project at the same time, which is handy in a team environment.
GIMP (Digital Photo Editing)
Including colored visual elements in a piece of content (e.g. a digital photo) can increase a person’s willingness to read it by up to 80%. With this is mind, becoming highly proficient in taking and editing digital photos is becoming more and more of a necessity for communicators, marketers and public relations professionals. There is much more to digital photography than pointing your smartphone at a subject and hoping for the best.
Images (and video) need to be composed well, be visually compelling and tell a story. If it all seems too much, help is at hand thanks to the amazing generosity of Stanford University Professor, Marc Levoy, who has put his entire digital photography course online.
In addition, editing your photos is equally as important as taking them and a free online editing program called GIMP can really help in that department. GIMP was recently voted by Techradar.com as the best free photo editor for 2016. While GIMP is not Photoshop, it is free and has many similar photo editing tools, filters and features to enhance your images.
While these are only four of the vast array of user-friendly tools available, Canva, Biteable, WeVideo and GIMP will be able to support you with most of your visual social media content production needs.
What other free online tools do you use when producing visual social media content?