Many social media managers for small companies often also have the role of a graphic designer when they need to create engaging content for the social media channels they manage day in and day out.
However, there are quite a few great resources online which makes creating beautiful content a lot easier. It’s a good middle ground between throwing something together in Paint and getting a graphic designer.
Below is a crash course of the essentials needed to make your social channel look swish.
Social Media Header Templates
Knowing the measurements of the ever-changing sizes of social media channels can be a headache. Many channels have little fiddly things to consider like the profile image overlaying on the cover image, or the image resizing for mobile.
Social Media Today has a great rundown for the key design sizes to keep in mind for the major social networks .
Meanwhile, the guys at Every Interaction have created free zip files of PSD documents  of layered templates for the major social media networks cover images – including desktop, tablet and mobile designs. It’s a useful resource to keep bookmarked, especially for graphic designers who would regularly need this info.
For those who are keen to try creating a Facebook Video Cover, I’ve got a step by step guide for that here.
For those who run Facebook ads, you’d be familiar with the fact that Facebook likes less than 20% of the image to have text on it. There’s a standalone tool from Facebook to help you confirm the text percentage. It’s here.
Cloud computing has come up with some pretty incredible things – and Pixlr is one of those. Pixlr is like photoshop, but free in your web browser. This program lets you do all the nifty things like add layers, blur, smudge and add drop shadows. Neato.
Pixlr is a great tool if you don’t want to invest in Photoshop, or you’re working in a large company where installing freeware requires administrator privileges. Ain’t nobody for time for that!
It’s a challenge in Australia to find images that look gorgeous, are free, and we have permission to use. Unlike other countries, taking images created by others and reusing them online is a breach of copyright.
The alternative is Creative Commons: images which are royalty-free, and without attribution – depending on their licence.
My first recommendation would be to check out Pixabay, which is a creative commons zero stick photo aggregator. However, it’s not the only site where you can get high-quality Creative Commons images for free.
For more, I’ve written a whole blog post about the best free image sites you need to bookmark.
Canva is a Sydney start-up that has been making waves over the past few years. Canva is a graphic design tool that gives you suggested templates for design, and you change the copy and images using drop and drag tools
One of Canva’s specialities is creating those classic ‘inspirational quote’ style images. But it can also design powerpoint designs, posters and more. I’ve always been a massive fangirl of Canva. Check out Canva here.
If you aren’t great at knowing what colours go together, Colour Lovers is a helpful site for recommending suggested colour palettes.
You can enter the key colour you want to match with (i.e. match your logo!), and it will suggest community-submitted palette designs. I also love coolors.co where you can enter and lock your primary colours and it recommends other colour palettes you might like. Hard to remember the name, but amazing fun.
It’s a great way to make sure you’ve got rich content, but with colours that work together.
I’m a big fan of fonts. I love me some open-source fonts, so Google Open Fonts Library is my go-to. I also love Font Squirrel for being able to find and match a font I have in an image that I’m trying to replicate.
Do you have any additional must-have tools to help community managers in their adventures to create more bold and beautiful content? Let me know in the comments!
Originally written in 2015, updated in October 2018.
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About Rachel Beaney
Rachel Beaney is an Australian freelance social media specialist with over a decade in digital media. She’s worked with global names like Microsoft, Samsung, News Corp and General Assembly, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping clients solve their business needs with creative and data-driven solutions. Get in touch today to jump on a free consultation call to find out how Rachel can help you.