Regularly incorporating visual content in any digital brand strategy is more important than ever. The benefits of social media images are well documented, and the rise of free or affordable DIY graphic design tools has made its creation widely available. What that means is there’s a lot of amazing content out there, and customers expect quality!
Saving time and money, stock photography is a huge component in creating quality social media images. In order for stock photos to support your brand messaging and keep customers engaged, they often need some customization—and a little bit can go a long way. Perhaps the simplest way to transform a beautiful image into a creative, custom post is to add some text.
In this post, we’ll go over image selection, popular tools, and techniques for creating a steady stream of compelling content with stock photos and type.
Choosing the Right Images
You’ll want to find an image with a composition that will lend itself to being partially obscured by text. Look for photos with some negative space—or at least negative-ish space. You will need an area where you can put your text without obstructing an important part of the photo. Keep in mind the “negative space” doesn’t need to be a solid color; text can easily be made readable by adding a shape layer behind the text in an editor. Negative space can also be created with editors like Photoshop.
Visual Content Toolkit for Creating Social Media Images
When it comes to creating images for social media, the great news is that you don’t need to be a designer to create beautiful, custom visuals for social media. Let’s look at a few of the popular tools available:
Web Applications: Canva and Adobe Spark
Canva and Adobe Spark are two of the most popular web applications (used in a web browser) for creating visual content. They both include preset canvas sizes for different social media channels, and with a drag and drop interface, have nearly no learning curve. They also each have a corresponding mobile app for quick jobs and on-the-go posting. We recommend taking each for a test drive, but generally, Canva gives a little more flexibility whereas Adobe Spark gives more suggestions and built-in options.
Desktop Applications: Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
The Adobe Creative Cloud products will ultimately give you the most flexibility. For simple text on an image, both Photoshop and Illustrator will do the job. If you plan to do some photo editing, such as extending a background with content-aware fill or clone-stamping out a tree, you may choose Photoshop. Should you be assembling an infographic atop the image, Illustrator might be the best bet.
Now that we’ve got a good understanding of some editing tools, let’s look at some ways to use images and text.
Headline Images are Great for Pinterest
Adding an image is a great way to make an article or blog post stand out on social media. Especially on a visual platform like Pinterest, posts are instantly more shareable with an image selling the headline. To use this technique, start with a high-quality photo that is relevant to your post. Make sure that your text is large enough to be read by a fast-scroller on a mobile device. For this example, we used Canva to add a text overlay to this image of an adorable baby eating a snack.
Quotes Will Get You More Likes and Shares
Quotes are popular on social media, and almost any brand can find relevant words of wisdom. Quotes can go beyond #MondayMotivation, however; also consider song lyrics or getting topical with editorial quotes. For this example, we used a glittery portrait to create an image for Twitter. To make enough room for the text, we used Photoshop to extend the negative space (like this). While it would be simple to just add the text in Photoshop, in this case, we opted to bring the edited image into Canva to take advantage of their selection of curated fonts. Having multiple tools in your toolkit helps to customize a workflow matching your skills and resources.
Data-Driven Content Will Earn More Links
Graphical data does not need to be a full-on infographic. If you have a compelling statistic or piece of data that’s relevant to your brand, share it! Here we used a photo of a woman holding a bouquet and a Canva social media template to create a graphical representation of a statistic.
Get Shares and Links with Funny Memes
Memes are one of the longest-running internet trends, and they aren’t going anywhere. While many memes of yore relied on different captions being placed on the same popular images (i.e. “Success Kid”), today’s memes utilize all kinds of images paired with funny text written above the image—and they’re wildly popular on Instagram and Tumblr. For this example we used this photo of a man playing a guitar and web-based meme maker Kapwing. You could also do this in Photoshop with a font like Helvetica or Arial.
Get More Comments by Asking Questions
If one of your goals for a social media campaign is increasing engagement like comments, consider posing a question directly in a social media image. For bonus points, use this strategy to crowdsource useful information, such as what types of content your readers would like to see more of on your blog. We created this post below with Canva and a photo of fresh fruit in cones.
One More Thing
We’ve only scratched the surface! Creative, custom social media posts are clicks away when you start with beautiful stock photography.