Hi its Gary O’Toole  here with Sociocaster. We have spent a lot of time looking at content marketing recently so I thought I would do something a little different today and give you my top 20 list of tools and resources that I use to create stunning visual content for myself and for clients.

Images are great because using these tools and resources they are quick and simple to create and they create huge engagement with your audience.  If your not creating and sharing images – you are missing out big time, don’t take my word for it, check out these statistics:

  • Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.(Source)

  • 73% of content creators plan to prioritize creating more engaging content in 2016, and 55% plan to prioritize creating visual content. (Source)

  • 65% of senior marketing executives believe that visual assets (photos, video, illustrations and infographics) are core to how their brand story is communicated. (Source)

  • When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. (Source)

What Do These Statistics Mean?

Ok statistics sound impressive but what do they actually mean in the real world? Before we dive into the list I am going to break down why creating stunning visual content is absolutely critical to the success of your digital marketing strategy.

Its All About The Retweets!

Photos are more likely to Retweeted than any other kind of content – this means that your reach extends way beyond your own followers! If you take the time to create something that is imaginative, inspiring and ultimately compelling you will find that your followers, followers will Retweet and their followers will Retweet and you will gain a huge reach!

Facebook Comments & Shares Can Outrank Likes

Facebook likes are great but comments and shares are the true signs an audience is engaged. When an image is shared and the audience really engage – it inspires conversation and for people to share with their network. This is ultimately what we want our followers to share with their network to gain the biggest reach possible!

Images And Fridays Rule Facebook

According to eMarketer 75% of all content shared on Facebook is images! 75% of the worlds #1 Social Network’s content is images – I said that twice because I want you take it in. Its really important that you digest that information as it demonstrates, that Images are absolutely the best form of content to share. Images are easy to understand and have universal appeal.

I am not a great lover of the “Post X at Y time and the result will be Z” strategies when it comes to timing posts, I strongly believe this depends on your brand and your audience. Its up to you to use your professional discretion. However according to Social Intelligence Report – Friday is the best day to post an image as you will be more likely to receive a high level of engagement!

  • 16% of Likes Occur On Friday’s
  • 16% of shares occur on Fridays
  • 17% of all comments occur on Fridays.

So by now you should understand that sharing images is definitely something that you need to be doing, but your probably starting wonder what solutions are out there to get the job done quickly and easily? If your a photoshop expert its still worth reading on as I will show you some resources to find high quality images that are both royalty free and copyright free. Up until a few years ago – free stock photography was generally pretty poor quality and totally unsuitable for commercial use – however I am glad to say that things have come on leaps and bounds, more about that later – lets get stuck in.

1.) Sociocaster Image Editor

Did you know that as well as being an awesome content discovery tool and multi platform social media automation tool, Sociocaster has an excellent build in image editor? This is great because you do not need to leave your browser to edit and create stunning visual imagery. There are tons of templates that are updated all the time – so even if your feeling uninspired – you can still post incredible imagery in just a few clicks!

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You are also able to create your own images as well – simply click on an existing template and start editing! There are many really cool features – my favorite is the Instagram style filters! Filters are a great way of making stock photography a bit more visually appealing and allow you stamp your own identity into an image.

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You can even find stock images from right inside the Sociocaster visual designer! Think about how much time that would save you – being able to source, design, edit and post stunning imagery all from one browser window!

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2.) Canva

Canva is an online image editing and design suite that makes visual content creation a breeze. Canva is packed full of cool templates that makes creating a wide variety of content – super quick and super easy. I personally rate this as one of the best solutions for beginners and for people who lack design skills! As well as using the built in templates you are able to input your desired image dimensions and create a custom Canva.  Check out this video for rough idea of how it works.

3.) Skitch

Skitch is an awesome tool for Apple users that allows you capture and edit screen shots. Screen shots are extremely useful when you are writing a technical/process based blog post. It can be summoned using a simple keyboard shortcut and my favourite feature is that you can blur out sensitive information using the blur tool. Its really simple to use and if like me, you spend a lot of time creating content that uses screenshots – this is definitely worth checking out.

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4.) Jing

Jing is similiar to Skitch but it also allows you to record short clips of video too! Its pretty awesome as it can really bring your blogs to life with moving visuals that clearly illustrate the points you are trying to make. Its from the developers of Camtasia so you are in safe hands for sure!

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5.) Start Up Stock

Finding free, royalty free stock photography can be challenging enough but finding high quality stock photography that is suitable for use by start ups used to be really tough – not anymore! I recently had the joy of discovering an awesome site that specializes in providing us with high quality stock photography that focuses on start ups. I found images to highly usable and I just absolutely love the style that the majority of them are taken.

Visit Them Here: http://startupstockphotos.com/

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I am always keen to avoid stock photography which has identifiable individuals in them as  I feel this detracts from your “authenticity” when posting them – so I was thrilled learn that most of the images include people but in most cases do not show the face. This makes it easy it easy to find images that have the human element but do not show individuals that are clearly “Stock” models.

Overall I am super impressed with this site and cannot praise it enough check it out! 

6.) FOTOR

Fotor has long been my “goto” tool if I need to make a quick edit such as adding a filter or cropping an image! Its ideal if you do not have access to a machine loaded with Photoshop – or quite simply you just want to do a quick edit without leaving your browser!

I like to describe as a “Photshop-Lite” as it has most of the features that the average user would use in Photoshop but without the learning curve.

A stand out feature of Fotor is that it allows you make collages quickly and easily – which could be great if your using a platform like Pinterest in your marketing efforts.

Fotor is also free and you can check it out here.

7.) Powerpoint (Yes Really!)

Powerpoint might not be the first program that pops into your head when you think of image editing – but in recent times it has really caught on as a image editor! Its great because it is a program that most people have access to on their computer and it has an interface that most people are familiar with.

You wont be able to add cool filters or manipulate the images with cool effects but you will able to layer pre-made vector images to create visually interesting infographics.

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You can export the individual slides you create as image files! You might already have an existing presentation – so you could re purpose that and extract individual slides and post them to your social media accounts!

8.) Creative Market 

If your a more advanced user of Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator then you might want to check out Creative Market. As the name suggests it is a market place for creatives, where you will able to purchase tons of highly inspiring resources that will enable you to create awesome images very quickly.

Creative Market give you 6 free downloads every Monday (So 24 free resources a month) so its worth signing up even if your budget restricts you from making any purchases. The stuff they give away is always of a very high quality and is worth checking out!

If you have some kind of budget then Creative Market is definitely a place to check out as you can pick up a lot of value for a very small cash outlay! Creative Market (and its vendors) frequently put together huge bundles of resources and price them up for just a few dollars!

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9.) RE:Splashed

400 HD photographs to do whatever you like with! Re:splashed is one of the best sites to find awe inspiring photos that would make excellent backgrounds for quotes.

Quotes are one of the top forms of shared content – the best part is if your at a loss for words you can just find a relevant quote by a famous person and paste it on top of an inspiring image, tag it up and post it. This is a tried and tested formula that has seen some people build high authority accounts on sites such as Pinterest and Instagram.

If your in the fitness, therapy or wellness industry – quotes are an absolute essential part of your marketing – fortunately for you there are tons of already made ones floating around the internet! If your pushed for time and resources this is the way to go! Instagram is your go to platform and I recommend installing the Apps “Tagfire” which generates tags that are guaranteed to create engagement (In my tests no less than 20 likes and 1 – 5 new followers each image posted) and Wordswag which lets you add stylish text overlays to images.

Although there is a ton of pre-made quotes out there – I highly recommend taking the time to create your own with your own branding. If make this extra effort, you will find that people will download and reshare them – which is exactly what you want as they are promoting you and your brand for free!

10.) Placeit.Net

Have you ever wondered how brands place their website or app inside a iPhone or Macbook (or any device for that matter?) to make those cool mock up images? One method is to use a template inside of Photoshop and underlay a screenshot – this is straight forward enough if you own Photoshop and know how to use it – but what about for people who do not?

Here is one I created in less than 2 minutes – All I had to do was enter the URL of the site I wanted to screen capture and Placeit.Net took care of the rest! I like the result – I think its very useable!

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Well that is where Placeit.net steps in they allow to create a range of incredible looking mockups simply by uploading your screen cap into to one of their pre-made templates!  I have tried out lots of alternatives (both free and paid) and I think that that Placeit.net have come up with something quite special!

Placeit.Net also has an excellent image editor built in – which allows you to add filters and text! Lower resolutions are free but you do have to pay for the higher quality ones – however at this quality and for the speed of the service I think its worth the money!

I hope you found this post useful and I’ll back on Friday with another Video!

Have A Great Week!

Gary

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