Are you including images in your social media content?
Looking for easy-to-use tools to help you create images for your content strategy?
If the idea of using Photoshop makes your head spin or hiring a graphic designer isn’t an option, there are many easy-to-use, low-cost alternatives available to you to create social media graphics.
In this article, I’ll show you 6 easy tools that will help you create compelling graphics for social media.
PicMonkey‘s free option has a wide variety of frames, special effects and font types to choose from.
With a touch of a button, you can crop and resize your photo, and add text to your images.
Choose from a wide variety of free fonts on PicMonkey to create appealing images like this one with PicMonkey.
The paid option offers additional features that include more frames and photo effects.
PicMonkey is a great solution for all types of social media images. Not only can youcreate graphics for your posts, you also can make banners and buttons for your social media accounts, such as Facebook.
LiveLuvCreate is an image-creation website most anyone will find easy to use.
With LiveLuvCreate, you pick from a variety of design layouts—from one image as a background to a collage of graphics. You can use images from your computer or choose from LiveLuvCreate’s library.
Choose up to three text areas with a range of font types, colors and styles.
You may also select borders, filters and photo effects for additional image enhancements.
An example of a social media graphic you can create on LiveLuvCreate.com.
Once you complete your graphic, you can share your creation on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook, or download the image to your computer.
Canva is a free application that offers a myriad of graphic types for use in everything from presentations and posters, to business cards and invitations. For social media use, consider Canva to help you design Facebook cover photos and blog images.
Canva offers many different layouts to help you create compelling and shareable social media images.
If you’re signed into Facebook, Canva can pull in your photos. You can also upload your own graphics from your computer, or purchase from Canva’s stock image library (most images are only $1 US).
Additionally, Canva has a unique feature where you can collaborate with other users, which is great if you need to share or edit your images with someone else.
Canva is currently under closed beta, but you can reserve your username and be placed on a waiting list. Then, you can try Canva out once you gain access to the beta version.
If you want some of PhotoShop’s capabilities, check out Paint.NET as an alternative.
Paint.NET is a free download for PCs and offers many of the same features available in PhotoShop.
It supports layers, has unlimited undo capability and offers special photo effects, including red-eye removal. You can also draw shapes, add text and recolor your images with Paint.NET.
You can easily crop any image on Paint.NET and then resize to your specifications.
Because Paint.NET is a free download, tapping into the user community is the best way to get help with how to use it. Check out Paint.NET’s online forum for help, tutorials and plugins.
It may come as a surprise to see PowerPoint on this list, but it offers another easy way to create social media images.
Any PowerPoint slide can be saved as a JPEG or PNG. Just click on Save As, and then select JPEG or PNG from the Save as Type drop-down menu.
PowerPoint then asks if you want to export every slide or just the current slide. Select Current Slide Only, and you have an image file of your PowerPoint slide. If you’re comfortable using PowerPoint, take advantage of this capability to create social media images.
And if you’re looking for an easy way to make Facebook cover photos, be sure tocheck out Tabsite’s PowerPoint Template for Facebook Cover Photos.
Use Tabsite’s PowerPoint template to create eye-catching Facebook cover photos. Photo courtesy of Tabsite.
Tabsite made a free, easy-to-use template that even shows where your profile photo appears on a cover photo so you can design around it.
Don’t forget that compelling social media images can include snapshots, and when you want to creatively display these types of photos, check out PicCollage.
PicCollage is an app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.
Once you download the app, use photos from your Facebook account or camera stream to create collages.
Select a background on PicCollage, add your photos, then text and stickers to your image. PicCollage also allows you to resize, rotate, edit and delete any of your creations. When you complete your collage, you can share your image on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
You can choose from many different layouts for your collage. Photo courtesy of PicCollage.
Use PicCollage to creatively display photos from a client event, office party or conference. Or pull in a favorite quote and surround it with images.
With a little creativity, PicCollage helps you create social media graphics that show a more personal side to your business.
While hiring a graphic designer or learning to use PhotoShop may be the best solution, it’s nice to know you have alternatives to help you design graphics to share on social media.
When you need help to create social media graphics, consider any of these toolsto help you get the job done.
Do your research. Finding the right image design tool is a bit like trying on shoes; you need to choose the best one to fit your needs. You may find that it’s best to use multiple platforms to create your social media graphics, like KJ Ammerman who likes to use Picmonkey and Canva.
KJ Ammerman likes to use Picmonkey for backdrops, Canva for layout and then back to Picmonkey for text.
John Bohan is one of the pioneers in Internet marketing. Get to know more of him by following this Facebook page.
What's a Facebook Misery Index? Learn about it from this infographic from SocialMediaToday.com.
Facebook Misery Index: Quantifying exactly how bad Facebook makes you feel
John Bohan is one of the pioneers in the Internet marketing industry. For more about him, visit this Facebook page.
Image Source: businessinsider.com
Facebook brand pages are suddenly getting a lot less traffic, and it's threatening the entire social media marketing industry.
Earlier this month, Facebook changed the algorithm that determines which "stories" show up on the News Feed.
The News Feed is that center column you see when you go to Facebook.com or open your Facebook app.
Lots of industry insiders noticed the change and said it would screw over a few companies that depend on Facebook.
These industry insiders were right, but they had the wrong victims in mind.
They also may have missed the true motive behind Facebook's change.
In a December 2 blog post, Facebook said it would start to put more articles from publishers in the News Feed, ranking them by how much your friends have been clicking on them.
Facebook said it would favor "high quality articles" over "the latest meme."
When the change went down, lots of people assumed it would be terrible news for publishers that write a lot about "memes" and publish other "viral" content – publishers like Buzzfeed and Upworthy. Then AllThingsD's Mike Isaac reported that the Facebook executive in charge of News Feed, Chris Cox, has a personal distaste for those two sites. It seemed like their doom was imminent.
But it turns out Buzzfeed and Upworthy aren't the companies getting immediately screwed over by the change.
The people already getting hosed are "social media marketers" – an industry of people who run Facebook pages for big brands.
A week or so after Facebook made its changes, one social media marketing agency, Ignite, analyzed 689 posts from 21 brand pages. Ignite found that in just one week, the number of people who saw posts from those brands declined by 44% on average, "with some pages seeing declines as high as 88%."
So what was Facebook's News Feed tweak actually about?
To answer that question, you have to remember exactly what Facebook brand pages are.
They are a free way for companies to use Facebook to talk to their customers and gin up more sales.
They are free ads.
Well, they are almost free. Even free marketing requires management. Someone has to come up with the creative. Someone has to make sure the creative is working – that the brand is getting lots of "likes." And that's why "social media marketing" agencies, like Ignite, exist.
So here's a hypothesis: Facebook's News Feed tweak wasn't only about getting "higher quality content" in the News feed. It was as much about reducing the reach of free ads on Facebook. Now, if a brand wants exposure on Facebook, it's going to have to buy it from Facebook.
There will be two pieces of fallout from the change:
Social media marketing firms are going to have to figure out new core competencies or they are going to go out of business.
Facebook's Wall Street analysts will soon begin to notice that the company figured out yet another way to bolster revenues, even as it stops stuffing more ads in the News Feed.
While they are screwed in the short term, don't worry too much about the people in the social media marketing industry.
They have been through a similar trial before.
Google once went through a period where it adjusted its search algorithms so that companies couldn't just game the system to get their pages to the top of search results pages.
Google's message to companies was: Quit paying "search engine optimizers" to get to the top of Google. If you want sales from our users, do a simple ROI calculation, and buy as many Google ads as you can afford; you won't regret it.
When that happened, tons of search engine optimization, or "SEO," experts who'd spent their days studying Google, suddenly became social media marketing, or "SMM," experts who spent their days studying Facebook.
Now, they're already on to Snapchat.
More news about the social media industry can be read on this John Bohan blog site.
LinkedIn may just be the rising star to take on the other social media giants. Find out why in this article.
Investors were disappointed about the most recent quarterly results from LinkedIn LNKD +0.1%, but they are missing the bigger picture of the company’s future. LinkedIn will benefit tremendously as marketers continue to shift their focus from banner ads to content marketing and more of the $44 billion spent on content marketing shifts online.
The Content Marketing Institutedefines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience.” The techniques of content marketing are becoming more valuable as customers ignore traditional banner advertisements and brands have learned that they can create direct relationships with their customers via social networks.
Some consider content marketing to be a new technique, but it actually has its roots in the golden era of advertising. As one of the most famous Mad Men, David Ogilvy, once said, “the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop, look, and read.” This has become even more important in our social and mobile world. The COO of BuzzFeed, Jon Steinberg, makes a strong argument in this video that content marketing is the only way to reach an audience on a mobile device and that display ads have a bleak future in a mobile world.
As business-to-business (B2B) brands, like General Electric GE +0.15%, continue to dedicate more dollars to content marketing, LinkedIn will stand to benefit tremendously. The Content Marketing Institute recently released their annualB2B marketer survey results. The survey shows that there’s even more enthusiasm for content marketing in 2014 than there was in 2013. 93% of B2B brands claim to use content marketing and of those 87% use social media to distribute their content. The number one measurement of success for a B2B brand is increasing web traffic to their content, and they need distribution to do this. The best, and most frequent way to reach a business audience is through LinkedIn – 91% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as their distribution channel, up from 83% last year. 62% of B2B marketers believe that LinkedIn is an effective distribution channel, making it the most popular B2B social network by a large margin.
LinkedIn hasn’t been shy about demonstrating that helping companies host content and distribute it to a targeted audience is the future of the company. Although hiring solutions still represents a majority of the company’s revenue, the future growth of the company will come from their marketing solutions products. You can expect marketing solutions to increase its contribution to the business both nominally and relative to the other product lines as its mobile Sponsored Updates product matures and content marketing budgets continue to grow.
Marketing professionals worldwide are switching their focus to content. In 2013, 35% of marketers were focused on content marketing versus 19% in 2012. Marketers aren’t just focused on content marketing hypothetically –58% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2014 with a lion’s share of their distribution budgets going toward LinkedIn.
Content marketing is the future of mobile and online brand spending. LinkedIn is in a unique position to grow its business by capturing the growth in spending from B2B marketers. This trend will be a driving force behind the growth of the company and its stock price going forward.
John Bohan is one of the first Internet advertising executives, with him entering the industry as early as 1994. More social media marketing insights on this blog site.
Image Source: mashable.com
It seems that there is a need to change the way marketers think of digital marketing. While many agree on expanding their marketing efforts to include the Internet and social media, there are still those who apply the old rules of marketing when they attempt to converse with users online.
Specialists point out that digital marketing is about establishing and strengthening relationships with consumers. Attempting to directly sell a product to users of social media platforms may actually do more harm than good in digital marketing because it is not the kind of content that many Internet users are looking for. Approaching digital marketing with only the intent to sell is a quick way to get the content ignored by many social media users.
Image Source: forbes.com
As seen in the type of content that becomes popular online, Net users are looking for something that is unique and amusing. Consumers need to have something to catch their attention first before they can even be remotely convinced to show their support for a specific brand.
In the era of social media and digital marketing, storytelling and relationship building efforts play important roles in the success of any marketing campaign. Marketers would do well to change their methods of increasing their brand’s visibility to the consumers. While it is impossible to totally eliminate the goal of selling the product, having a better understanding of what consumers want to hear or see from their social media updates is a good way to get noticed in the Internet age.
"In an offensive that some critics have likened to the political purges of the Mao era, Beijing has recently detained or interrogated several high-profile social-media figures." More about China's restrictions on Internet usage can be read in this Wall Street Journal article.
BEIJING—A forceful campaign of intimidation against China's most influential Internet users has cast a chill over public debate in the country and called into question the long-term viability of its most vibrant social-media platform.
In an offensive that some critics have likened to the political purges of the Mao era, Beijing has recently detained or interrogated several high-profile social-media figures, issued warnings to others to watch what they say and expanded criminal laws to make it easier to prosecute people for their online activity—all part of what one top propaganda official described on Tuesday as "the purification of the online environment."
State media have reported more than two dozen detentions on charges of spreading rumors and related offenses since China's newest generation of leaders officially took power in March. Authorities have launched similar antirumor campaigns in the past, but the difference with the current campaign is its focus on high-profile figures.
The crackdown has touched some of the biggest personalities on Sina Corp.'sSINA -1.01% popular Weibo microblogging service, perhaps most notably Charles Xue, a Chinese-American venture capitalist with more than 12 million followers on the site.
In an indication of the power of these users, after Mr. Xue picked up a post on July 12 that criticized toxic food, high prices, low wages and other issues and said, "We have all become 'people who tolerate,' " it was reposted by his followers more than 17,000 times and got more than 2,000 comments.
Image Source: WSJ.com
Known online by his pen name Xue Manzi, he was arrested on charges of soliciting a prostitute in late August, in what many Internet users interpreted as a warning to other social-media stars.
Over the weekend, China Central Television showed Mr. Xue handcuffed and unshaven but eerily cheerful in a Beijing detention center, confessing to having been nonchalant about the veracity of information he spread online.
"Freedom of speech cannot override the law," he said. Mr. Xue remains in detention on the solicitation charge, and hasn't been charged with anything related to his online activities.
It isn't the first battle for control of expression on China's Internet, but the current campaign is wider, more systematic and more strident. In play is the future of public discourse in China and the commercial environment for its Internet firms.
A chokehold on political discussion on Sina Weibo threatens to scatter users away from the country's most vibrant venue for public discourse into smaller virtual meeting places.
The crackdown is quickening a move of users from Weibo to more private exchanges on Tencent Holdings Ltd.'sTCEHY -0.97% mobile messaging app WeChat, which has drawn less oversight from authorities. Longer term it could turn Sina into a company more focused on the buying and selling of goods and as a forum to keep up with celebrities and post travel logs rather than one centered on public exchange.
Still, some activists who use the service say they have been tracked. In January, an activist who took part in protests against the censorship of Southern Weekly, a popular newspaper known for its hard-hitting investigation into social issues, told The Wall Street Journal he believed he had been tracked by his activities on WeChat. The man said he was detained by police for a day at a location not near the protests after discussing his plans to join the protest over WeChat. He said his only activity online that morning was communicating with his friends via WeChat.
The newspaper dispute stemmed from allegations by editors that propaganda officials switched out an editorial calling for greater protection of legal rights for one lauding the government's achievements. Guangdong authorities later agreed to no longer directly interfere in content before publication, a Southern Weekly editor said.
A handful of other users at the time also reported the service was blocking terms related to the protests. At the time, prominent dissident Hu Jia posted to his Twitter account an image of his own unsuccessful attempt to send a message using Southern Weekly's Chinese name. In the post, he called WeChat a "monitoring weapon in your pocket." Since the protests, others have reported the blockage of sensitive terms or posts on the service.
Inklings of Beijing's intention to target Sina Weibo's most influential users appeared as far back as February, when Lu Wei, one of China's top officials in charge of Internet monitoring and censorship, invited a number of so-called Big V's—influential Weibo users with verified accounts—out to dinner at Capital M, a posh Western-style restaurant located just south of Tiananmen Square, people with knowledge of the dinner said.
A similar dinner followed in May. The atmosphere at both gatherings was congenial and Mr. Lu seemed intent on making friends with his guests, these people said.
The mood changed in the following months as propaganda officials began to talk more frequently about the need to quell online rumors. In mid-August, Mr. Lu convened a "Forum on Social Responsibilities of Internet Celebrities," where he warned a group of Big V's to be "more positive and constructive" in what they write online, according to an account of the event by the official Xinhua news agency.
That was followed by a series of detentions and interrogations, including that of Mr. Xue on Aug. 29.
In early September, China's highest court published an expanded interpretation of the criminal law that made social-media users subject to defamation charges and possible three-year prison terms if they spread rumors or posted slanderous content that attracted more than 5,000 hits or was reposted more than 500 times.
The campaign spread fear online, with a number of Weibo users speculating about who would be detained next. Real-estate mogul Pan Shiyi, who boasts more than 16 million followers on Weibo and is well known for his posts calling for cleaner air in China, highlighted the depths of that fear in September when he stuttered his way through a question on the responsibility of influential microbloggers during an interview on CCTV. "I feel that Big V's—people with lots of fans—should have even higher requirements of themselves, should have more discipline," he said, his voice wavering every few words.
The spectacle of Messrs. Pan and Xue toeing the party line on state television has led many observers to draw parallels with the political campaigns launched under Mao Zedong.
"In the 1950s and '60s, intellectuals often appeared in the official media admitting to their mistakes and saying the government was right to criticize them. This is a long Chinese tradition," said Hu Yong, an Internet scholar at Beijing University.
Multiple Big V's have said in interviews that they feel tremendous pressure as a result of the campaign. Some have said friends have advised them to lie low, or even leave China.
Weibo has weathered crackdowns in the past, including when rumors of a coup ricocheted through the site last year and led to the temporary shutdown of the commenting function both on Weibo and a rival service run by Tencent. But the severity of the current environment has some users and analysts questioning whether the service will emerge intact.
"In the past, [the crackdowns] were localized. This time it's national," said Qiao Mu, director of the Center for International Communication Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University. He said past crackdowns were focused on specific incidents and individual posts. Now, "they're detaining people all over the country," he said.
"Sina Weibo is almost dead," said Hao Qun, a popular novelist better known by his pen name Murong Xuecun who said he has had multiple Weibo accounts deleted by Sina in the past year. "The activity and attractiveness of Weibo has fallen massively."
Data provided by analytics firm Weiboreach suggest that influential Weibo users are posting less often than they did in the past. The data, based on a random sample of 4,500 Sina Weibo accounts with more than 50,000 followers, show a 20% drop in aggregate monthly posts from January to August.
Despite signs that the service is losing some of its former luster, however, investors have been betting that Sina will be more valuable as a platform for e-commerce than as a town square. Reflecting that bet, Sina's share price is up almost 40% since the end of April, when Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group said it would acquire an 18% stake in Weibo for $586 million and drove anticipation of an integration of Alibaba's online shopping services into Weibo.
Sina, which hasn't commented publicly on the crackdown, didn't respond to requests to comment.
"[Sina] will no longer be so much a public opinion-driven platform…that era is over," said Bing-Sheng Teng, associate dean at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business.
News and updates about social media and the Internet are shared in this John Bohan blog site.