It’s no secret that images receive the highest level of engagement across all social networks. Hundreds of millions of people use Instagram to look at what other people had for lunch, if that isn’t engaging I don’t know what is!?
But seriously, with social networks getting more and more crowded, people have turned to images to standout amongst all the noise. However, it’s not 2012 and you’re not the only one using them.
No longer can you attach any old, unoptimised image to your post or tweet and watch your engagement soar.
With a bit of creativity and the tools you’ll find in the list below, anyone can create standout social media images. There’s a tool for every skill level and budget. In fact 3 of them are completely free and have relatively low learning curves.
#1 Pablo by Buffer
Pablo is the fastest image creation tool you will ever use! It does one thing and does it really well, layering text over an image.
If you already use Buffer for scheduling then this acts as an image extension. The integration is what makes it so useful. You can add the image you’ve just created to your schedule, in one click.
If you don’t have a Buffer account, don’t worry, you can download your image, or share it directly to Facebook or Twitter.
With the tagline “Design engaging images for your social media posts in under 30 seconds” your ability to customize was always going to be limited. There are 10 font types and 4 colours to choose from.
Learning curve: None
The new kid on the block. Canva is a web-based design tool that enables anyone to become a designer. I first heard of it through Guy Kawasaki, their chief evangelist.
The drag and drop editor means creating and editing images is super easy. One of the most useful features is the preset image sizes for social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
I can see why it’s loved by so many social media pros, Donna Moritz, Amy Porterfield, Kim Garst and Ian Cleary to name just a few.
If you do ever get stuck, check out the Canva Design School, it has 30 tutorials to take you from complete novice to Canva pro!
My biggest issue with Canva though is that there is no grid feature to help you with alignment.
Learning curve: Low
#3 Pixlr Editor
Pixlr Editor is a powerful web app that gives you near similar functionality to Photoshop but for free. The interface looks similar but is a lot less daunting. As it’s browser-based there’s no downloading or installing of any software.
It was my go-to tool for a long time before I finally forked out for Photoshop.
Learning curve: Moderate
#4 Photoshop CC
Photoshop is the Swiss army knife of photo editors; first launched in 1990 it’s stood the test of time and has more features than any other editor, period!
If you are serious about using visuals across your social platforms on a consistent basis then it’s definitely worth the investment.
The issue with Photoshop is the steep learning curve. You’ll probably need to sit down for a day or two and dive headfirst into a load of tutorials, but once you have the basics you’ll wonder why you didn’t buy it sooner.
Price: from £8.57/$9.99 per month
Learning curve: High
Finding the right image tool isn’t so clear cut, it will include an element of trail and error. If you want to create a quick visual for that awesome quote you’ve just found, Pablo is the one for you.
Need something with more functionality but with an equally low learning curve try Canva.
If you find Canva too limiting but don’t want to invest money at the moment then try Pixlr.
If you’re creating images on a regular basis and find that Pixlr just isn’t doing it for you then go with Photoshop CC. It’s worth every penny.
What’s your favourite image tool?
I’d love to hear you opinion even if it is just to say you like (or don’t like!) the article.
Leave a comment below or tweet me @charlielawrance
About Charlie Lawrance
Charlie Lawrance is the Founder and CEO of Gecko Squared, a digital marketing agency that specialises in Facebook advertising. His clients include eCommerce companies, professional service businesses and best-selling authors. Stay in touch by liking his Facebook Page (Charlie Lawrance).