Two key factors in great leadership are effective communication and consistent engagement. Whether you connect with your community in person or online, your message must be effective and consistent. Graphics can boost your online engagement tremendously, if you want to know why, read this great post by James Scherer at Wishpond. If you are like me, your next thought is: “But who has time (or expertise) to create all of those flashy graphics we see online?” You do! Yes, it is easier than you think, and there are awesome, user-friendly tools that can help you create them in a snap (or click).
How to glam graphics quickly and easily…
I made the graphic for THE LIST with Canva. It is my current favorite tool for creating social media graphics. They offer a ton of backgrounds, frames, and photos in stock for you to use, but you can customize them and even upload your own. The best feature is their pre-sized templates for just about any graphic or infogram on any social media platform. Disclaimer…I have to give myself a goal time to get in and out of Canva. I can get lost in viewing the thousands of choices, and well, that perfectionism thing…so, set a timer if you’re like me. Oh, Canva has a great blog too. Here’s a great post from Canva about, well, posts 🙂 .
I still use PicMonkey for some graphic needs, and it was my favorite pre-Canva. One of the cool features that PicMonkey has that Canva is missing is the ability to edit your uploaded photos which comes in handy when you need to crop or enhance a photo to insert in a graphic.
I use Pic Stitch on the fly from my phone to create collages. Most of my use is for personal pics (like this one below of my family at the fair), but it is a great tool for business graphics like: before and after photos, one album of several new products, or a community collage of an event.
If you are familiar with Photoshop, then you might really enjoy using Pixlr. With a familiar tools and layers set-up, Pixlr offers hundreds of image effects for your photos. It also allows you to draw on a blank canvas to create graphics without photo use.
If you’re looking for a way to show a screenshot of your blog, site, or app in a ‘real look’ way, use Placeit. It is so simple to use – you simply drag and drop a screenshot or even video into a background with a computer, tablet or phone frame as shown below. It is super easy!
Similar to Canva, Pinwords allows you to start with a simple background or photo and add text. Pinwords isn’t as bountiful in text and background options, but it has a simple ‘pin it’ button that places your graphic directly on Pinterest for you.
A more robust Pinterest tool is Pinstamitic. I love this tool! With it you can easily create a ‘pinable’ graphic from a website, photo, quote, sticky note, mapy, or even a Spotify track. If you are a Pinterest junkie, save yourself time in creating your own pins and use this tool!
Sometimes I hear an inspirational quote or scripture and want to share it with everyone in my community to inspire them too. Knowing that text can easily get overlooked in the plenteous newsfeeds of social scrollers, I prefer to post it in graphic format. InstaQuote is a very simple, straightforward phone app. You simply select a background, type the quote, colorize your text, and share like I did with my life verse below.
If you have ever wondered how to get those cool arrows and highlights on photos, let me introduce you to Skitch, which allows you to “Snap. Mark up. Share.” Skitch is more of a photo enhancer than editor with filters. As a phone or desktop app, it allows you to highlight photos with arrows, text, underline, etc. My favorite use for Skitch is for tutorials. I can simply take a screenshot photo, add an arrow and text, and insert it into a pdf tutorial. Easy! Oh, and I love that it syncs to Evernote (more about my love for Evernote in a future list J)
Where to share your glammed up graphics…
Once you have your jazzed up photos and glammed up graphics ready, you’ll want to make good use of them in your community. Remember, you are using graphics for engagement, so use them in as many of your platforms as possible to inspire your community.
Best described as a virtual bulletin board, Pinterest is a social platform which allows you to ‘pin’ interesting websites, photos, videos, and blogs to your ‘board’. Using Pinterest is like bookmarking your favorite things on the web, but in a more visually pleasing organizational system. The idea is to be able to save and find info for later, in an easy, visual layout. You can see how I arrange my boards here, and see statistics on Pinterest users here.
Think of Instagram as a public scrapbook or online photo journal. Just like when you are sitting with a friend sharing pictures, Instagram encourages conversation, ooh and awes, and sharing of photos. If your demographic includes young women and girls, you need to be on Instagram – find out why here. In addition to still shots, you can upload 15 second videos, so Instagram is great for event announcements and product launches.
I compare Instagram to sort of a personal or professional scrapbook, whereas I consider Flickr more of an art or photo gallery. Flickr offers pretty much everything Instagram does, but also allows you to use privacy settings and organize your photos in albums. A great use for Flickr is projects for which you want to group photos such as an event, product campaign, or original photography collections.
Sharing information in images will most likely help the ranking of your Facebook page post. According to FB Newsroom: “Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates, but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.” They offer the suggestion of using graphic displays in link sharing as well.
Finally, don’t forget about your blog. Your reader wants to get to know you and your information in an interesting way. The adage is true, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
All of these tools are free – that’s right, FREE – so you have no reason not to try them out! I challenge you to pick one or two tools that you haven’t used before and try them this week. I promise, it is easier than you think. Just send me a comment or message if you need a little help.
Question: Do you have a favorite you can add to the list? Let me know which new tool you’ll try next. You can leave a comment by clicking here.