This week’s #GoodSocMed Twitter Chat, in partnership with the Local Government Association, threw up a tonne of learning and ideas on how to get the most from social media. A key, and ever-growing, requirement is the ability to create engaging and interesting content. This new post gives a cracking round-up of the some of the best tools and resources available to help you.
By Kelly Quigley-Hicks
Remember when posters were created with plastic letter stencils? Or when everyone first discovered WordArt on their PC? People are drawn to design, and in our tech-whizzy world there are an increasing number of tools available which can help create professional-looking content quickly and easily.
For social media channels, photos, graphics and - increasingly - video are the keys to liven up your content, encourage sharing and make your channels stand out.
Content with visuals get 94% more views and images are processed 60,000 times faster than text - read about this statistic, and more, in this Buffer post which should help persuade reticent colleagues away from text and link heavy posting.
Coupled with the fact that video in particular can massively increase your organic reach on Facebook, increase retweets on Twitter and are the whole thrust of Instagram and Snapchat; visual is where it’s at.
With budget reductions cutting access to graphic designers and design packages, free desktop tools and apps can be a handy alternative if you have an eye for design.
Here are a few I find useful at the moment:
App on iPad or iPhone - Android app planned
Use your pictures, or choose from the Canva stock, and resize them using social media templates for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more - you can also add text, filters, shapes and icons. Lots of ideas and functionality.
Here’s one I made earlier.
Similar to Canva on Android, but without channel-specific template sizing options, are:
• Photo - app on both Android and iPhone
• PicMonkey - app on both Android and iPhone. Desktop version also available but free functionality seemingly hard to reach without a free seven day trial of upgraded paid-for version
Desktop site https://piktochart.com
App for iPad
Piktochart creates infographics using a range of templates featuring Piktochart images or your own. Plenty of free templates and ideas. Pro account offers more functionality and is available for non-profits at $40 for the year.
*Pssst – comms2point0 has agreed an offer with Piktochart for you to have a free, 10-day trial of Piktochart Pro.
Instructions to redeem:
1. Create a free account or sign in to existing account.
2. Go to https://magic.piktochart.com/plans
3. Insert the coupon code comms2point0
This code is valid until 1 November 2016
Layout from Instagram
App on both iOS and Android
Make collages from two or more photos in an Instagram-ready size. It’s also great for Facebook. There’s no text option, so overlay on images in Canva or similar first. As you select photos you’re shown layout options and can then swap photo positions, zoom in or out, flip and rotate images plus add a simple border.
Take a look at this example image I created here.
Images and video
Adobe Spark Post
App on iPhone - Android app planned
Downloaded whilst writing this post and I’m already loving it. Spark Post lets you choose from a range of templates, use stock images or your own then overlay text. It has filters that change the look of your picture and font colours in a nifty palette way. You can also choose social channel posts and profile picture templates. So far, so Canva. What Spark lets you do in addition is animate - in a simple way - the way the text or image rolls into view. You can then upload the image/video to your account or save it to your camera roll or files.
App on iPhone - Android app planned
Use photos from your camera roll to create a short video post or create a text post. You can upload directly to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. A handful of free designs are available and one pro design is offered free each day. Add one or more photos, your text and choose your font and placement. Free functionality is limited, but it does the job. A paid-for upgrade is also available.
A glitchy trick is to select post to Instagram, get to the point where you start adding text in Instagram but then close down - the video file will save to your camera roll and you can upload it whenever you like.
Here’s an example video I produced.
Adobe Spark Video
App on iPhone and iPad
Guides you through creating a video along animated PowerPoint lines. Slides can be customised to include your photos, icons and text. You can also search for Creative Commons photos - although responsibility for checking licence requirements still lies with you. Slide themes offer options for fonts, colours and backgrounds - which can also be customised. A bit clunky but can look pretty good.
A handy phone app feature is being able to record a voiceover on each slide which is then knitted together as a whole. Background music is also available, or you can download your own. Story templates with prompts for different elements and information are offered, although this does run the risk of your video looking cookie-cutterish.
Here’s a short video I produced to show you what is possible.
Memes and GIFs
You either love them or hate them. Used judiciously, in context and for the right audience, I think GIFs and memes are great - not suitable for sensitive or contentious issues, though.
With Twitter collating its GIF library under themes like Deal With It, Mic Drop and Fist Bump, the kind of tone GIFs suit is pretty obvious. As well as broad themes to browse, you can also search by keyword which you’ll need to keep American terms in mind for. It can also pay to think laterally to find a GIF that fits the tone or theme you’re after.
App for iPhone and Android
Easy to search and share GIFs via text, email, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or copy the link or save it to your camera roll. On opening, Giphy shows new and trending GIFs as well as a search box. When you click on a GIF it will open it as a larger image, showing keywords and other related GIFs. If you’re prone to procrastination, beware!
Make your own GIF
Thanks to @DavidMeeFGH for recommending makeagif.com during the Twitter Chat. David uses this to make his own GIFs easily and for free. If you make your own GIFs do tweet links to your examples and any advice for GIF newbies to learn from.
Memes are along the same kind of tone s GIFs. If you’re not sure about which meme to use or want to find out more about them, knowyourmeme.com gives background and examples of many popular memes like ‘One Does Not Simply’ and ‘Grumpy Cat’.
App for iPhone and Android by ZomboDroid
Meme Generator lists a dizzying number of memes and examples of each, which you can then customise and upload to Facebook, Twitter, email or save to your camera roll. No desktop version, but there are also websites like imgflip.com where you can make and customise your own meme images
What are you using?
This quick list just scratches the surface of the tools and resources currently available but it hopefully flags something new which you or a colleague could try. Ask me again in in six-months’ time and I’m sure there’ll be something new on the scene.
What apps and sites are you using, like or loathe? I’d love to know.
Kelly Quigley-Hicks is Communications Officer at South Cambridgeshire District Council
image via Kelly