Images are an essential component of your content marketing efforts. They provide a visual aid to convey complex concepts and ideas, as well as break up long sections of text and make articles and social media posts more visually pleasing.
More important, research shows that images increase engagement from fans and followers across all social media platforms. According to Social Media Examiner, photos are the most engaging type of content that brands post to their Facebook pages, accounting for 87 percent of all interactions. In other words, about 87 percent of page followers exposed to a photo on Facebook will like the post, leave a comment or share it. Likewise, adding a photo URL to a tweet boosts Twitter retweets by 35 percent.
The problem is, as most small-business owners are painfully aware, stock photos and custom graphics can easily consume your entire marketing budget. Few small businesses can realistically afford to outsource custom graphic design for every blog post or social media status update, so they turn to DIY methods.
But what if you lack the skills to successfully navigate your way around Photoshop? Not to worry: There are several impressive and easy-to-use tools—aimed at non-designers—that can help you create custom graphics. Let's take a look at six of them:
1. Piktochart. You can make professional-looking infographics on your own with Piktochart. With more than 100 themes to choose from and customize, a built-in library of more than 1,000 images, and an intuitive, drag-and-drop editor, anyone can create sophisticated infographics to fuel their content marketing campaigns. A free account offers limited templates and other design options, or you can upgrade to Piktochart Pro beginning at $29 per month.
2. Easel.ly. Another free tool for creating infographics, Easel.ly offers thousands of templates and design objects that users can add, remove, edit and reconfigure with a few clicks of the mouse. There’s a massive infographic library showcasing the work of other users, which can be a source of inspiration for your own designs. Adding icons and objects, and even embedding charts to make your own data visualizations, is both easy and free with Easel.ly.
3. Infogr.am. If you want to take your infographics up a notch, Infogr.am is a great tool for making interactive infographics and integrating data sources for real-time data display. There are more than 30 interactive chart types to choose from, and you can even import your own data using XLS, CSV or XLSX file formats. Basic accounts are free; Pro accounts, which include real-time data capabilities, start at $18 per month.
4. Lovely Charts. If you just want to create stand-alone charts, graphs or diagrams to visualize a data set and enhance your content, Lovely Charts is a useful tool for creating just about every type of data visualization graphic you can imagine. From flowcharts to sitemaps and even business process visualizations, almost every business can find a use for Lovely Charts. The iPad version is $4.99, while the desktop version starts at $37 per year.
5. Canva. Want to try your hand at creating a new Facebook cover photo or Twitter header image? Canva has design templates for these graphics and more, including presentations, blog graphics and the perfect dimensions for posts on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Canva has a library of thousands of free and premium photos, images and elements for creating everything from simple social media posts to sophisticated reports and presentations. It’s free to use; you pay for premium images only if and when you download them.
6. emaze. Slideshows, video presentations and 3-D presentations are all within your reach with emaze, a sophisticated presentation designer for the non-designer who still needs to convey a professional, visually impressive image to their audience. Basic plans are free, but you can upgrade to Pro for less than $5 per month.
Even if you’ve never laid eyes on Photoshop, you can still create visually appealing, professional-looking data visualizations and other graphics to increase your followers' engagement with your content. These six tools are all affordable and easy to use, even for the non-graphically inclined.
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Photo: Getty Images