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Matt Woods By Matt Woods • April 17, 2017

7 Blazing-Fast Tools for Irresistible Social Media Images

Create social media images fast

Would it surprise you to learn that 90% of the information your brain absorbs is visual? It’s true.
 
You’ve probably seen stunning social media graphics on platforms like Facebook and Instagram from brands with deep pockets but what about normal folks with average budgets and smaller teams?
 
In my experience, most businesses are strapped for time but still want professional-looking social media images to wow” their audiences.
 
I have fantastic news for you: it’s possible to create jaw-dropping graphics for social media in minutes (and sometimes seconds!)
 
Using the right tools will stretch your time, boost your engagement and clicks while polishing the look of your brand.
 
Here are 7 practical tools I use every day as a full-time social media manager to add eye-popping images that hold audience attention longer and communicate more effectively.
 
Want a lightweight tool that’s optimized for pure speed? The team at Buffer created this nimble graphics tool to quickly find a photo, add your logo and text, and export it all in one place.
 
Pablo is a social media tool to help you creater faster images.
 
Here’s what I love about this tool:
  • It’s stupid fast. Granted, its features are severely limited (but, that’s actually a good thing.) I’ve found the site’s aggressive constraints actually force you to increase your creativity and focus.
  • It provides a no-nonsense shortcut to quickly crop Unsplash photos, which you can use for any project totally free. It’s painless using the search function to find an attractive visual for your social post, online advertisement, or blog post that doesn’t look like a corny stock photo. I use this routinely to replace Facebook link preview photos when it a link doesn’t include one.  
  • It’s easy to add overlay text for blog feature images, quotes, and link posts. This is a fantastic time-saver for repurposing list-style blog posts (like this one.) Just select a new image for each numbered point, swap out the text, and you have a whole series ready to post!

 

Looking for gorgeous templates that are simple to tweak and post? Canva makes an excellent choice (and offers many free designs!) It’s easy to pick a size, a professionally-designed template, and prepare striking images in just a few minutes.
Canva provides professional-looking social media graphics quickly.
Here’s what I love about this tool:
  • It’s easy to copy a template to save yourself time in the future. More specifically, it’s a great tool for duplicating images with small variations within a series. 
  • Professionally designed templates mean your graphics look incredible if you don’t tweak them much.

 

Want to make something simple and unique in as little time as possible? Snappa combines Pablo’s speedy ease-of-use with quality templates similar to Canva. 
 
The result: a ridiculously fast and simple solution for creating custom graphics. You can design up to 5 images/month for free, but you’ll have to upgrade to the $15/month plan for unlimited downloads if you’re a heavy user.
Snappa is a graphic design tool to create images incredibly fast.
Here’s what I love about this tool:
    1. It’s like a faster version of Canva. Think great design templates + a user interface built for speed.
    2. You gain access to free images and graphics that help your posts stand out without dropping cash on expensive illustrations.
    3. The relatively low price tag might not ruffle feathers compared to other more premium” graphic creation tools.

 

Shutterstock isn’t cheap, but this stock photo service can offer images more specific to your topic or industry than free alternatives. Many of the photos look corny (or even tacky), but there’s also a treasure trove of high-quality images and illustrations to choose from. 
 
The real difference-maker, though? Its brilliantly simple editor.
 
This tool was released relatively recently and just announced as a nominee for the 21st annual Webby Awards. Not bad. 
 
Pricing starts at $29 for 10 images/month so, this tool probably only makes sense if you’re producing a high volume of content.
Shutterstock Editor is perfect for finding social media illustrations.
Here’s what I love about this tool:
    1. It’s easier to find more obscure images that match a particular topic or niche.
    2. I absolutely love finding original illustrations and converting them into Facebook Ads or social media posts.
    3. The editor isn’t robust compared to other tools, but is more than adequate in tackling common edits such as adding text or a watermark.

 

Is there anything Photoshop can’t do? It’s truly the grandfather of all modern image creation tools and it serves an impressive graphic-creation machine in the right hands. 
 
You’ll find yourself saving massive stretches of time by creating a small library of templates using photoshop. Adobe’s longstanding community of users can also offer support, training, and free resources to aid your creative process.
 
Unfortunately, it boasts a steep learning curve that may put off beginning designers. Keep this option on the table for social media graphics if you’re serious about creating a graphic design process and can afford the $20/month price tag.
Using templates in Photoshop can save you time when creating social media posts.
Here’s what I love about this tool:
    1. It’s a demanding tool with a steep learning curve but offers incredible customization for skilled users.
    2. The key to using Photoshop for social media image creation is developing templates up-front that save you time over the following weeks and months.
    3. A variety of free and paid plugins also connects you to photos, graphics, and fonts relatively easily.

 

Paste your text, push a button, and boom! You have an image in seconds. Recite can feed a short snippet of text into a pre-made template in almost no time at all. 
 
Disclaimer: Recite definitely has more limitations than the other tools mentioned! However, it’s also requires the least work by a long stretch.
 
My recommendation? Give it a shot and share occasional quotes or a brief inspirational phrase. It’s not fancy, but can add variety to your social network feeds. 
Recite is a tool to create easy quotes and custom images.
Here’s what I love about this tool:
    1. This tool does one thing brilliantly: create simplistic quote images.
    2. It does have a watermark which is disappointing. But, the ease of use makes it a strong contender when you’re truly strapped for time.
    3. Despite minor quirks, you can still get significant value from this tool if you’re not too picky about fine-tuning your design.

 

Sometimes it’s easier to show your audience what’s happening on your screen rather than writing out a dense, complicated description. 
 
Skitch takes the cake as my favorite tool for snapping screenshots especially when they require light annotations with text, arrows, or highlights. Clear annotations become a true lifesaver when you’re explaining a complicated process over many steps.
 
Sometimes, a quick screenshot is all that’s required to capture someone’s interest on Twitter or add flair to an otherwise flat blog post.
 
Use Skitch as a tool to capture screenshots easily.
Here’s what I love about this tool:
    1. This is the most intuitive and helpful tool I’ve found for capturing screenshots and marking them with annotations.
    2. It’s an indispensable tool for creating step-by-step guides that teach your audience how to learn a new process or skill.
    3. Skitch makes exporting your image a snap by dragging-and-dropping. Easy!

 

Conclusion

Soon, you’ll be speedily churning out images for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter like a seasoned professional. 
 
Hopefully, a couple tools caught your eye and can save you precious minutes (and hours) creating epic content for your online audience. 
 
Whether you’re gearing up for a heavy-duty approach using Photoshop or staying nimble with Snappa, I’m excited to see your refreshed social media posts capture your audience’s interest. 
 
What will you do will all the free time you just saved? 
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