A picture tells a thousand words!
It should come as no surprise then that people naturally respond better to visuals than plain text. We process them much faster, we engage with them more, we share them more freely, we remember them more readily and we are influenced by then when it comes to purchasing.
The rapid growth of visual based social media networks such as Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Tumblr further demonstrate our attraction to visuals.
Similarly, Facebook knows that people want to see more visual content and they have built that into their algorithms. Their Paper app is a prime example of this. Good visual content receives preferential treatment on both Facebook and Paper.
It therefore stands to reason then that businesses would benefit by harnessing the power visual marketing on social media by incorporating it into their overall content marketing mix.
[Tweet “Businesses that engage in visual story-telling will create greater impact and achieve better ROI.”]
Visual marketing involves incorporating static and moving visuals within your content marketing mix. That might be photos, videos, infographics, drawings, cartoons, visual quotes, artwork, webinars, etc.
Now if you are stressing out at this point and feeling that you are not a very creative person, don’t own a fancy camera or can’t afford to buy Photoshop, don’t stress. Making visual content has never been easier.
These days the phones that we carry around with us each day will more than do the job, especially when you combine your dodgy photo skills with an app that will allow you to crop images, apply a filter, add a border and overlay some text. Suddenly that boring photo of yours starts to look a whole lot better. You can even make awesome visuals without having to take a photo at all!
Best Image Editing Tools
I use a variety of desktop and mobile image editing tools on a daily basis and my favourites change over time based on the image I am trying to create and what new tools have captured my attention. Some are free, some are paid.
As I have an iPhone, all the mobile apps I recommend are iPhone apps. Some of these also have android, windows mobile or blackberry equivalents – you will need to check that out for yourself.
IMHO, at this point in time (May 2014), these are the best image editing tools for businesses:
Canva is the number one image editing tool that I use on a daily basis. It allows you to create engaging images for use in social media, presentations, posters, blog graphics, Facebook Cover images, Pinterest graphics, infographics and much much more.
There are loads of templates, text holders, frames and photos to choose from and adapt to your requirements. This web-based program is free to use, with the option to purchase photos within the interface if you like for US$1 each. If you don’t have a budget to purchase images, that is fine as there are more than enough free elements to choose from or alternatively you can upload your own and use them instead.
I actually don’t use PickMonkey anymore because I love Canva so much and it seems to do all that I used to use PicMonkey for, plus more. However, it is still worthy of note, as it is an easy to use yet powerful on-line editing tool that makes your images look fabulous. There is a countless number of effects, fonts, shapes, and frames to tweak your images with. Picmonkey is free to use, although you can upgrade to gain some additional features if you like. The free version should offer more than enough when first starting out.
Word Swag is my favourite iPhone App for creating engaging images to share on social media. Word Swag allows you to put text overlays on images and the design options are truly beautiful.
My favourite part about this app is that you pick the font design that you like and then just roll the dice to shuffle through all the different ways that style can be displayed until you find the one that best suits. No need to fiddle around attempting to do it yourself manually. You can also invert the design so that the image you upload is displayed within the text rather than behind it, which can create a really cool effect.
Like Word Swag, Over is an iPhone App that allows you to overlay text on images, but it is much plainer in terms of the layout of the text. They have also recently added the ability to overlay artwork on your images. I mainly use this app when I just want to add simple text to an image without it needing to be too fancy.
Rhona is another iPhone App that I use that is similar to Word Swag in that you can overlay different design packs on images. Unlike Word Swag, you can’t edit or create variations of those designs, so it is a little bit more limiting, but this is made up for by the variety of options you have to choose from.
Moldiv and Diptic
Moldiv and Diptic are both iPhone apps that allow you to create a collage of photos. I switch between which one I use based on what template I am after for the frames I am creating as they each have their own unique variations.
The iWatermark iPhone app is a really simple to use watermark creator for images. I use this whenever I want to put the Impactiv8 logo on an image for branding purposes.
InstaWeather and InstaPlace
I am grouping InstaWeather and InstaPlace together as I use these iPhone apps to add context and highlight the story around am image. I use InstaWeather when I want to identify what the weather was like at the time the image was created. I use InstaPlace when I want to highlight where the image was taken.
I like Pip Camera because it is fun! It allows you to create interesting frames around your images. You can place your image inside a computer screen, camera, milk bottle, fish bowl or even a wine glass. There are so many options to choose from that you are sure to want to play with this one for a while. My daughter is obsessed with Pip Camera and I am constantly finding images saved to my iPhone or her face smiling back at me from inside random objects. 🙂
I love Instagram and whilst it is a social media network in it’s own right, the in-built image editing and filters also make it a powerful image editing tool worthy of note. When you post a photo to Instagram, as well as giving you the option to share it to other social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foresquare, it also automatically saves it to your camera roll for later use.
If I wish to share that same image on other social media networks, my preference is usually to share it from the camera roll rather than from within the App, as it allows me to post it directly to and in context with the platforms, rather than as a link from Instagram.
Flipagram allows you to bring moments to life by creating beautiful short video stories using your photos, set to music. I mainly use this to curate photos from Instagram around an event or theme as it is so easy to do so. You just select the images you want to appear, the order they will appear in, the timing of them and then the music you want. Once the Flipagram is created, you publish it to your social media platform of choice.
Shadow Puppet provides a unique way to tell a story around your images because it allows you to narrate a story as you swipe through and zoom in on the images you have on your iPhone. This can be great for creating simple instructional visual content pieces with minimal effort.
Animoto allows you to turn ordinary photos and video clips into rich videos using either Animoto’s web, tablet or mobile version. You can choose from a wide variety of video style options and templates, as well as set your videos to music. Once created, your videos are hosted in the cloud, allowing you to easily post them on social media or embed them in your blog.
Combining Image Editing Tools
Each of the above image editing tools allows you to be creative and make truly unique and engaging images to use within your business and easily share on social media. However, I find that when you use some of these tools in partnership, layering their effects (without going overboard), you can create an even better result.
For example, I may combine a couple of images using Moldv or Diptic. Some of those images may have been initially created using Canva. I might then use WordSwag, Rhonna or Over to add a text overlay as appropriate. I could even choose to put my logo on it if using iWatermark. I might then later include that image when creating a video using Flipagram, Puppet or Animoto.
The possibilities are endless and the potential results you can achieve for your business by incorporating effective visual marketing within your social media strategy are mind-blowing.
[Tweet “The best image editing tools of 2014…”]
What are the best image editing tools for business in your opinion? List your favourites in the comments below.