Social Media marketing requires a continuous flow of quality content to sustain visibility. To reduce the time spent creating, there are five free time saving social media design tools I use frequently.

Time Saving Social Media Design Tools

1. Canva

Difficulty: Novice/Intermediate
Time to create: 1-10 minutes
Frequency of Use: Everyday
Additional Software: None

An essential tool for designing graphics to perfectly fit each of the social media channels. From Twitter headers, to instagram posts it is incredibly easy to make perfect fit graphics. Essential features include:

  • A library of pre-set templates for all types of all online and offline marketing materials
  • Drag and drop – simple design tools no brushes, no paint buckets just click and drop
  • Snap to place alignment for images and text
  • Upload your own photos and display as many and any way that you want
  • Branding kit – upload logos, fonts and colour schemes to ensure all content is in keeping with your brand¬†(paid feature)
  • Magic Resize – Once you’ve completed your design to fit one social media account, you can change it to another size with a single click (paid feature)
  • Stock graphics – Lots of free shapes and frames. Paid for photo and graphics available to enhance your content

Try it Yourself: Canva

Here’s an example of a Canva graphic made for this site:

Construction Marketer Volume 1 - Inside Social Media

Sized exactly for twitter, featuring a background image, overlay shapes with transparency, additional images on top and text, Canva provides an excellent amount of customisation at no cost.

2. Pablo By Buffer

Difficulty: Novice
Time to Create: 1-3 minutes
Frequency of Use: 1-5 times a week
Additional Software: None

I only discovered Pablo recently, but despite various limitations compared to Canva it’s simplicity is what sets it apart. The social media design tool only allows you to produce graphics in dimensions suited for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter but here is why it’s great:

  • With Social Media it’s all about speed and Pablo really delivers great looking graphics that can be shared fast
  • You can post directly to your social media feeds, your buffer feed for future posting or save it your computer
  • Unlike Canva – It’s full of FREE professional stock photos that give your posts a great look at no cost.
    • However there are limitations to how much you can do with them compared to Canva
  • You can set up your logo placement fast
  • Placement of the header, body and caption text for the graphics is pre-set up for optimum appearance. It’s easy to hide the ones you don’t need as well.

It’s a fantastic tool that anyone can use. Try it yourself: Pablo

Here’s an example of a Pablo graphic made for this site:

Social Media Automation Tools Header

On first viewing not massively different to Canva and the free photo works great with the title. However, you are limited to one photo per image, the movement and size of the photo, the fonts used, the effects applied and there are no options to overlay other things such as shapes. It’s simple and basic, BUT it’s highly efficient and the graphics look great. The header image for this post is also designed using Buffer and it took 2 minutes to design.

3. Motion Array

Difficulty: Intermediate/Experienced
Time to Create: 1-4 hours
Frequency of Use: 1-3 times a month
Additional Software: After Effects/Premier Pro (Depends on download)

Motion Array offers pre-made animation templates that you can tailor for your business by adding your own text, images, colour schemes and video . The majority of the best stuff you have to pay for ($19.99 a month for 4 premium downloads you can keep forever) but there are some great freebie ones too. Another factor is that you do need additional software such as After Effects or Premier Pro to modify the video. It requires a bit of know how, but if you have basic knowledge of these platforms they are easy to work with. Here’s why it’s great.

  • It makes amazingly professional looking animated video for your business with minimal effort
  • New templates are added all the time so you can add something fresh
  • Every is setup for optimum viewing on desktop and portable devices no need to play around with specifications
  • The videos are a fantastic way to make your business, products or service look professional
  • 1-4 hours may sound long but video this good would normally take several days, if not weeks to create

NOTE: Video rendering can be time consuming depending on your hardware.
NOTE 2: Avoid using too many different styles of video and stick to one theme that closely fits your brading

Here’s an example of a Motion Array Video created for Insulate Network

4. iMovie for Mac

Difficulty: Novice/Intermediate
Time to create: 20 minutes to multiple hours
Frequency of Use: 1-3 times a month
Additional Software: None

iMovie for Mac is a tool that I use for ease and simplicity, whilst the motion array templates look great there is a fee and they require some technical know how and configuration. The great thing about iMovie is that it is simple drag and drop. Load in your content image/video, audio, place it where want on the timeline, trim, slice, add transitions and you’ve just turned your regular content into an eye pleasing video.

  • Add source images/video/audio easily
  • Place on timeline and manipulate speed, length duration with ease
  • Add great looking transitions with ease
  • Create perfectly optimised video that is easy to share
  • Content will capture the eye on twitter without taking hours and hours to create

Here’s an example of a video create using iMovie

The above example took graphics designed with Canva and iMovie was used to pull them all together to create an engaging video. It’s a great tool for utilising resources you already have to create even better content that appears new.

5. EzGif

Difficulty: Novice
Time to create: 1-2 minutes
Frequency of Use: 1-3 times a month
Additional Software: None

I discuss the benefits of ezgif in more detail here, but the real benefit of this tool comes in its ability to compress high resolution video and make it more suitable for social media viewing. Here are the main features.

  • Simply upload video adjust resolution settings and trim to size
  • Trim a lengthy video into multiple smaller GIFs you can use to feed your social channels
  • Compress video that won’t eat up the audiences mobile data
  • Automatic start and replay of GIFs is a big benefit over video
  • Even when you choose the lowest setting its difficult to see a massive difference in quality
  • A positive and negative – converting into a GIF removes audio, so it’s not suitable for interviews and content reliant on speech

Try it Yourself: EzGif

Essential Social Media Design Tools

There you have it, the free social media design tools that I use most regularly to really speed up my content creation for social media, I hope you find them useful. It would be great to hear your thoughts or any others you would recommend in the comments below.

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