via Hubspot’s Facebook page

Several studies have shown that rich media content, such as images and video, generates more engagement on social media. Images and video capture attention better than text both because they take up more real estate on social feeds like Facebook and Twitter, and because they are more visually engaging. Creating these assets for your social media campaigns can increase the reach and impact of your messaging. 

At first glance, it may seem that only graphic designers or those with expensive design programs can create these images. Not true. There are simple tools available online that you can use to make eye-catching assets. But first, to be clear, what do we mean by social images? Here are a few examples:

 

via GE’s Pinterest page

 

via Get Skills to Work’s Facebook page

These are essentially just images, sometimes with text, that can help get your point across on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any of the other social media platforms. So, rather that writing, “Pack like a photon, you’ll be traveling light,” show it with an image and accompanying text.

Now here are a few tools and tips for creating graphics for social media.

Before starting on your graphic, you’ll need to find a background photo or image. While there are numerous paid resources for purchasing images (Bigstock, iStockphoto, Shutterstock, etc.), it can get pricey if you intend to use several images each month. That’s where Creative Commons can help. Creative Commons has aggregated websites that offer no-cost, license-free assets, like photos, music and videos. It’s simple to search through Flickr, Google, Pixabay and other sites from the Creative Commons website on this page. Just be sure to check both boxes at the top: “Use for commercial purposes” and “Modify, adapt, or build upon,” since you’ll be altering the photos you utilize.

As an alternative to photos, you can use textured backgrounds to set text or other graphics. A comprehensive library of free textures can be found on Subtle Patterns. Find something interesting, but not too distracting that can serve as a background to text and any other graphics you choose to include.

Now that you’ve chosen a background – either a photo or textured image – it’s time create the final product. One of the most simple, yet powerful tools online for graphic editing is Pixlr Express. It offers the key capabilities needed to create an eye-catching graphic for social media.

We will walk through the process to create a graphic of our own. Below, you can see we have chosen a photo, which we are going to place a quote over, along with our logo that will be shared via social media.

1. Go to Pixlr Express. From here, upload the background photo that you’re going to use. We’ve chosen a landscape image from Flickr using the Creative Commons search tool.

 

2. Add a border. To add a bit of style to it, apply a border. Once a border style is chosen, scroll through the options using the browse arrow, which we have highlighted below.

Experiment with the opacity of the border by toggling the “Amount” bar. 

3. Add text. Pixlr Express has several text options, organized first by style (dotted, grunge, serif, etc.) and then by specific font.

After choosing a sans serif font, we settle on “Cicle Semi” for the font.

As you can see, the text we have pasted into the text box is too large for the space, so we have to add line breaks in order to segment the text.

 

Then, use the nodes on the text box to resize it to fit in the photo. Adjusting the size of the text box will automatically change the font size, so you may want to go back and change the line breaks in the text to appropriately fit within the image space.

Once the line breaks and text size are adjusted, find the right color for your text. Pixlr Express offers both color choice and opacity adjustment, which adjusts the transparency of the text. Change the opacity using the bar on the right, next to the color spectrum bar.

  

4. Add your logo. It’s important to brand these images so that as they’re shared, your company or organization can earn recognition for the creative work.

Select “adjustment” then choose “upload image.”

 

And, voilà! You now have a branded image for social media. Be sure to save the image at 400 pixels wide so it fits properly within the Facebook timeline and Twitter’s feed.

 

So, instead of simply tweeting text like this:

Your audience is given a post that is more engaging, and more likely to be shared, like this:

If you’re a bit more technologically savvy, experiment with the advanced version of Pixlr, Pixlr Editor. It functions much like Photoshop and offers a host of tools not available in Pixlr Express. If you’d like to improve your knowledge in order to use Pixlr Editor, there are many helpful tutorials on YouTube that will walk you through most any operation the program has to offer.

--Suzy