The world of visual content is booming and you can only expect that to continue given our unbridled attraction to visual materials.
Videos, images, graphics, shapes, colors, – just name it, humans are fascinated by anything that tickles the eyes. It is only natural that our brain has a better capacity to process an information presented in visual form than those written in text.
Experts believe that visuals trigger a certain part of the brain that speeds up the understanding process. This reaction is known to produce an emotional response which further combines to form memories.
Visual stimuli and emotional response has been extensively discussed in many studies to establish the extent to which our emotions are triggered by visual objects, and the results have been mind-blowing. It is not surprising that people have developed an obsession for certain brands just for the type of color and the shape of logo they have made in their branding process.
Just to prove their point in numbers, Buffer decided to make a case for why visuals are critical in any marketing today in a study of user reactions to 100 tweets posted to their Twitter timeline.
As you can see below, tweets with images outperformed those without images in the three key engagement metrics measured: Likes, Re-tweets, and Clicks. The impacts in the first two were particularly stunning as tweets with Twitter inline images generated 89% more Likes and 150% more Retweets than tweets posted as text-only.
Even though the difference in Clicks is relatively small as tweets with images could only garner 18% more clicks than text-only tweets, it is all due to the amount of time that users had spent to read a bit of information in image tweets which absorbed their time thereby reducing the chance of clicking through the tweets to original content.
There are many other examples like this to probe further the impact of visual assets in your marketing process and why you need to leverage more visuals considerably. I have researched on some of the resources that you will need to create stunning visuals for your social media. This will breeze you through the process of visual content creation.
It’s established that the major obstacle that is facing the visual content marketers is TIME, coupled with the lack of required skills and ideas to consistently come up with new content for their social media. Only a few marketers with a sufficient budget could afford the cost of employing professional graphic artists to meet their visual content obligation.
Mind you, you don’t need the service of a graphic designer in order to get your own gorgeous images published. You can take advantage of these resources I have provided to save yourself the additional cost and be your own graphic artist while still providing something worth a value. I have also included some video tools on the list.
Here we go,
#1 Social Media
First thing first, you need inspiration about the right visuals for your marketing and then where to save the ideas for future use. You can start by having a list of accounts you follow on social media itself.
- Twitter (create a list for relevant accounts that post a lot of visuals)
- Facebook (create interest lists for this on Facebook)
- Even Blogs and Websites can provide great clues for coming up with stunning visual content
Note: The idea is to use their works to inspire for your own content but not to plagiarize other people’s content.
#2 Google Search
It is amazing how everything revolves around Google. Google is my first stop whenever I needed an idea about anything online. You can’t just imagine how many possibilities you can find with Google search just by modifying your queries. There are hundreds of search operators that you can use to tailor your searches to specific results.
For images, the formula is quite simple, just type in your keywords and add “images” at its back and you will have a bunch of image results for your queries. Here is a search result for query “Content Marketing Images”
Click on any of the images and you will be taken to an images-only search result for the query.
#3 Save your Ideas
You need reliable facilities that are easily accessible to save your ideas in. Saving on cloud is more secure to enable you to access your notes across devices. Whenever you find any inspiring visual ideas in your watching lists, simply copy them into your cloud service accounts, such as Google Docs, Dropbox, Evernote, or Pocket.
#4 Save Local
You can’t rule out the fact that you will need to save some of these visuals into your local drive. This is to save you the time of going through the cloud storage – which may sometimes require the internet connect – when you need to quickly work on a file. Simply create a special folder for them and have sub-folders inside that are grouped by keywords to make for easy retrieval later. But make sure you have a copy of each file in your drive saved on cloud too.
Content creation tools
Designfeed combines the power of visual content discovery with a simple design process that allows for easy share across major platforms. You can create gorgeous visual content in a matter of seconds, or curate from the feed sources you have added to this tool.
And Designfeed will optimize your content for the major social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.
To browse for any designs, simply type in your content Title and Subtitles. Designfeed will automatically present you with lots of design variations similar to your title and sub-titles. You can continue to mine their endless designs to find the perfect fit for your content.
The most intuitive of all is Designfeed’s algorithm. You will get to see designs based on what you have done in the past and the topic you are trying to create the visual for. So, the more you use this tool the better it gets. When you find your design, just click on “remix”, enter the text, and you are done in seconds.
Designfeed is still in Beta, you should take advantage of this tool and enjoy it while it lasts!
Everything to expect from this tool has been summarized in its tagline “Graphics That Design Themselves”. It’s amazing how Relay can help automate the designing of something visual. You simply have an array of templates to choose from based on the design you want.
When you enter assets into Relay, the layouts of the tool automatically redesign itself to each asset you update (this is particularly awesome!).
You also have a one-click resize feature that allows you to resize your graphic for every platform (Facebook header size, Twitter image dimensions, etc.). No need for further tweaking.
Think of how visual marketing could help your business and most professionals would first tell you to go and master your Canva skill. Canva is a do-it-yourself design software that gives you more control to create visuals just about anything. Infographic, blog graphic, social media images, slide decks, you are always going to find a design that fits in for your visual copy.
If you want to up your graphic design skills in using many tools and features for graphic works, Canva’s design school could just be what you have been looking for.
Or, do you just need to pick from ready-made images, no time for designing!; there is a huge library of stock photos that you can pick from for just $1 per each.
Canva is a handy tool that gives you the freedom to design your idea as you want, while still providing shortcuts to great visual content (unlike many other sophisticated design tools).
Simple and sweet! Anyone with no iota of design knowledge can quickly come up with a visual content with this tool. All you need is your thought, idea, quote, or tip and then choose your design and let Recite design it for you. Though you might not have the ability to fiddle with your image like in Canva, but you can be sure to find a design that fits a need.
Recite can be very handy when you don’t have time to deal with sophisticated design tools for your visual. Just type in your words, and that’s all. A great little time saver isn’t it!?
Piktochart can turn you to a professional infographic artist overnight. They provide hundreds of templates that are easy to edit, with their custom photo, color and font giving you the freedom to represent your message in visual form as you want.
It is available on desktop, and you can get started for free.
Photo Editing Tools
Inbetween photo creation and editing is a sweet spot where you discover your visual magic, that is exactly where Picmonkey comes into the fray. Picmonkey, according to itself, is a photo editing tool, but it goes hand in hand with image creation as well.
Did you just find a gorgeous image for your content but needed a few touches to make it great. Simply throw it into Picmonkey and have a quick rework on it. You can edit and overlay your image to a cool new background, resize and reshape the dimensions (from portrait to landscape, or vice versa), use the Touch Up tools to change the facial part into some stunning.
Picmonkey also provides hundreds of filters, overlays, fonts (you are sure to find the amazing one for your brand) to make the whole editing easier for users. Their themes would help you create great images with photo editing features and tricks to give the images your brand taste. I will suggest you upgrade to their Royale version to get the whole benefits with this tool, – quite affordable.
What is there left to edit in your image if you can fiddle with your image background as you want? With Clipping Magic, changing an image background only takes a couple of clicks. Whether you want to remove the background completely to have a plain white background OR you want to overlay your image on a new background, just upload or drag and drop your image into this tool and have it completed in a few steps.
It is so easy that even a dummy can remove an image background with this tool. Let me just walk you through the three steps to see:
- Start by marking your image foreground with green color and background with red;
- Live-preview your image and use the Scalpel tool to handle any edge;
- Adjust other areas such as the color and the shadows effect. Then, crop your image to the size you want to have your amazing image in a plain white background. Or, you can choose to copy it to other background.
They have very handy tutorials to breeze you through these steps as well.
With a great image creation comes a brilliant color scheme. Sometimes, knowing the right color to use for your image is not the problem, but getting the HEX code that will return the exact color in visuals can be challenging. Google Chrome Eye Dropper will save you the stress of searching for Hex code for a color your heart desires.
When you find a color that interests you on a web page, just use this tool to sample the code for it that you can copy and paste into your image software. It works particularly well with Canva!
#13 Alternative Method
Maybe you are not a chrome user and also want to sample Hex code for a color you have found on a web page. Simply take a screenshot of the area of the color and save in an image format (.jpg is preferred). Then, open your CS Photoshop.
- Upload the image into it
- Click on the Eyedropper tool
- Right-click on the image (Note: Make sure the Eyedropper cursor is placed exactly on the spot you want to copy the color)
- Then copy the Hex code
As seen that this method provides a great alternative to sample Hex code for a color, but the Chrome Extension Eye Dropper allows you to copy the code right from the web page itself.
Part of creating right images for your social media is to also make sure they are of optimal sizes. You want your images to load quickly in your social streams so as not to dissuade people from reading your content. Compressor will help you chop off extra weight on your images while still keeping their visual quality intact.
All you need to do is to throw in your image and this tool will return with a significantly optimal sized image.
Sometimes using more than one compression tools can be more effective in reducing your image size. Image Optim can further compress your images where Compressor has stopped. It is so super easy to use! Just drag and drop your image into this tool, it will compress your image, save it in the same format, and under the same file name in your drive. No new features or files added. Everything is set to be uploaded to your social media or wherever you want to use it. It’s a great time saver for compressing images if you ask me! But it is available for MAC users only.
If you’re a Windows or Linux user who loves this tool, you can get the alternative services for your operating system from their list of alternative resources.
In a library of almost one million icons (both premium and free) provided by Icon Finder, you can search for icons just about anything. It is indeed a huge source for finding icons that will give identity to your images!
I even like how everything is arranged by categories and styles, so you wouldn’t get overwhelmed searching for icons that match your topics.
Now that you are done creating that awesome visual your heart desires, isn’t it wise to get the best return from your sweat? Thinglink might just be the tool you need to take a step towards that direction. You can use this tool to place powerful Calls to Action (that are irresistible!) on your images and videos alike.
How it works is that; you upload your basic image into this tool, and then customize it with little icons which display some rich media links on the image. Whenever a user places a cursor on these icons, these display extra details you have added to the image, such details can be whether to watch a video, click on an image, or to just read the text you have provided. The information will be displayed in a way to nudge readers into taking an action. You definitely want to check it out!
If your company is the type that posts tutorial content often on social media, you will fancy the idea of providing visual illustrations of some of the tips in your content. How-to’s content are very popular in this, they provide lots of screenshots to help readers better grab the message being passed across. You can use the following tools to create awesome screenshots for your next content.
Evernote Web Clipper is an incredible tool that does incredible things in a simple fashion. It’s mostly used to take note of articles discovered on a webpage and save to Evernote for reading later. It helps provide a few options for saving your note; you can save as an Article, or Simple Article (a distraction-free reading mode). You can also save the whole web page containing the article, bookmark it, or take a Screenshot of it.
Everything saved is easily accessible across platforms on Evernote (mobile, tablet, and desktop).
Using the web clipper to take a screenshot will open up awesome annotation features that you can also use to provide beautiful visual call-outs on your image.
The name says it all, this tool will help you capture a web page on the fly, including the desktop. All you need to do is to add it as a chrome extension and you are ready to go. This is what I have been using to take most screenshots for most of my posts on this site.
It provides several options for capturing a web page for saving. Whether to capture only a visible part of the page or the entire page or to capture a selected part of the page or the desktop. You can even delay the capture for up to 3 or 5 seconds, giving you the freedom to use your cursor to make some other adjustments on the page (like right clicking on your mouse to provide additional details) before the capture triggers itself.
It is a simple great tool you will like! You can do almost about everything on their free version, but you might want to upgrade to their pro version to manage an unlimited number of projects in a single account, – $8.99/year.
Not satisfied with the result you get in desktop capture using Awesome Screenshot, you can use the Snipping Tool on your Windows PC to do the job better, neater, and simpler. Simply go to under “Accessories” from your Start Menu to Pin this tool to your Taskbar.
By this, you have only a single tap away to snip any page. Whenever you find something to capture, whether a web page, or a desktop, or even inside a folder in your drive, just click on this tool in your Taskbar and it will show screen overlay indicating that it’s active. Then select the area you want to capture, and you are done!
It even provides a few annotation options to add some visual elements to your image before saving, – quite simple!
Nimbus’ website simply reads “Best note-taking software for Windows”. You wouldn’t argue with that brag if you have gotten to experience this great tool by Everhelper yourself.
It’s quite an awesome tool that I discovered recently and I have been overwhelmed by its numerous features. Simply add this tool to your chrome browser as an extension and begin capturing anything on the fly.
Its annotation features are similar to the Evernote Web Clipper’s but with a few quite more options to adjust and change the styles as you want. That is. it is more sophisticated than the Web Clipper’s, you can even resize the image while working using this tool.
Do you have any image that needed to annotate before posting? Simply drag and drop into this tool and have it done in seconds. I wish I had known this tool for long before now!
Nimbus screencast is one of the best options around for recording a web page. I will talk more about this later in this post.
Videos can make your content more human and fun, not to say they help convey your credibility and notch up your authority. You can see the reason while the major social sites are pushing to make their platforms more videos-friendly. You can take advantage of the following tools to create simple and stunning videos for your social media.
Wideo enables you to create professional animated videos that you can upload and share to your social media. It is super fast and easy to use. You can upload and use your own images and audio in the video.
#23 Nimbus screencast
I told you I was not done yet with this tool! There is this amazing feature of its that does an amazing screencast on a webpage. This feature really surprised me from the intro that I had to put it into a test to see how it works, and you know what, I was amazed!
If you have ever had a problem doing a screencast on a webpage before, you will cherish a tool like Nimbus that does it like a cakewalk!
Let me tell you my little disappointment with a tool in the past…
I sometimes ago had difficulty doing a screencast for some of my tutorial works, one particular tool even made the task a bit like something out of ordinary (I wouldn’t mention the name, but if you want me to, I will!). I had to download a heavy Java file to use this tool, even at that, this tool can only record a less than three-minute screencast. The tool became a forgone conclusion immediately I discovered my web browser isn’t even java-compatible, – so all the efforts gone to waste! I had to remove this tool (and its Java friend 🙂 ) from my browser. It was a forgettable experience!
Since I found Nimbus screencast, that experience has been long forgotten!
Nimbus screencast does not require you to download any data-sapping file to use it, just add it as a chrome extension for easy access and you are done.
Click its icon in your browser toolbar, and then hit “Record Video”. Then, select Tab Record, (make sure you check the Mic Sound to capture the audio as well). And that’s all, it’s so super easy and fun to use! It also provides Android Version to make sure you can take a note from your mobile device.
#24 Pic Play Post
PicPlayPost is a mobile app that enables you to create engaging stories with photos, videos, GIFs, and music. You can combine different types of media into a collage and share to your social networks, – it is a bunch of visuals and audios to captivate your audience! Check it out to see yourself, it’s available on Android, iOS, and Windows devices.
You can follow PicPlayPost on instagram to see examples of what you can create with this tool.
…What number are we? – 24! Yeah, that’s enough load for one head!
24 Incredibly Simple Visual Content Creation Tools for Social Media
These are all powerful tools or ways you can flood your social media with gorgeous visual content to drive incredible engagement. You might be seeing many of these tools for the first time, or some, you have had experience with, but believe me, they all deserve your attention if you have the time to invest in them. So take advantage of these tools to give your social media the authority it deserves.
How about you? What visual content strategy are you using to keep users engaged in your social streams? What resources do you use to come up with such content? Let’s hear your experience in the comment below.