In the past, it was more than enough to share an image on social media every now and then. Now, if you’re not using images, you’re already behind. The images you create should immediately catch your follower’s eyes and contain something that will influence them to click and share and continue looking for the next great thing you post. You also don’t want to spend a lot of time or money creating these images, because social media posts have a very short lifecycle.
The great news is there are a lot of tools out there to create engaging images that stand out on social media, and many of the best are free.
Canva is one of the best free tools for powerful template-based graphics creation. It offers a wide range of templates, image and illustration assets, dozens of fonts and text styles. The best thing about Canva is that it doesn’t matter if you’ve never designed an image in your life. It uses a simple drag and drop interface that allows beginners to start quickly and with just a minimal effort to create high-quality images that are great for sharing on social media or blog, design attractive graphics, presentations, and posters.
This free tool lets you choose from several professional templates sorted by industry category, design type, and size and then customize that template with easy to use filters. You can also replace template images with one from Adobe’s royalty-free library, or one of your own uploads. Unlike many tools, Spark makes it easy for you to change the design layout or even the entire template. Beyond their “post” graphic design type, Spark also provides two other project types: pages and videos.
Created by the social media scheduling tool, Buffer, Pablo is the best tool for quickly creating great social media images. The workflow is very simple: Choose a template or just an image for your blank template provided by sites like Unsplash and Pixabay. From there, choose from one of three sizes, each fitted specifically for Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook/Twitter. Image customization is limited—choose from a few preset filters, designed to provide the right level of contrast between your image and your text.
Desynger is a mobile app that lets you design polished social media images. Start with a template for the social media network of your choosing, or start from scratch. From there, build your design with Desygner’s library of royalty-free images and design elements such as shapes and icons. Even in its mobile app, Desygner doesn’t skimp on features. Multiple menus allow you to hyper-customize image and text settings, while never becoming cumbersome to use on a small screen. Desynger’s web app works almost identically, with sidebar menus to help you select the design assets and effects you need.
Snappa is ideal for text-heavy social media images. It includes a thorough template library, although it puts more emphasis than other apps on getting the background image just right. From there, Snappa offers an effects sidebar that helps you create the perfect image effects for your post–whether that means darkening or coloring the background image to make white text pop or brightening the image to highlight dark text. Snappa is similarly thorough when it comes to text. Easily edit your text from the sidebar, adjusting font, size, alignment, line spacing, and opacity.
Best for more advanced social media graphic design. It includes many of the classic graphic design functions of tools like Photoshop, Sketch, and GIMP—such as layers, drawing tools, grouping, shapes, text, effects with a much more simplified, easy-to-learn interface. While Gravit Designer is ideal for building your own designs from scratch, it does come with a small library of templates, illustrations, and icons that are pre-sized for uses like blog posts and social media images.
These graphic design apps are great whether you want to draw extra attention to a blog post you’re sharing or you want to design a full-blown branded Facebook ad campaign.