Creating Shareable Visuals is Easy with these 7 Online Design Tools

We all know that when it comes to consuming content, text alone no longer makes the cut. We are multi-sensory beings and the more we can plug into our senses to absorb content, the bigger its impact.

Adding visuals is key to beefing up impact and engagement – be it in a blog post, social media post oremail. You can say goodbye to your audience if you cannot hold their interest for longer than a few seconds. Not only will including visuals help get your point across, it could entice your audience to share your content with their networks.

Creating visuals is easiest when you have existing content to work with. But sometimes you don’t have that, or things come up last minute and you don’t have the resources or time to devote. That’s OK. There are tools out there to help you create unique and enticing images that are sure to increase engagement.

Whether you’re a blogger or a marketer, creating visuals for your content should not be a painful process. Here are 7 tools that will help facilitate the design process and give your content a splash of life:
 

1. Canva

Canva is a free and exceptional design tool that people with zero design skills or experience will find easy to use. From blog graphics to posters to Facebook ads, you can start any new design from scratch, or start with a layout if you need a little guidance. You can upload your own images or choose from a wide array of backgrounds. It also has quite the selection of premium stock images, which cost $1 when you publish. Currently in beta.
 

2. Pixlr

This free online photo editor integrates design and paint tools to create custom content. Many of its features (or tools) are similar to what you find in Photoshop: you can choose from various filters, fonts and experiment with different layers. Although Pixlr may seem a little rough around the edges, it’s fairly intuitive and its open form allows your creativity to take rein over your content’s direction.
 

3. Picmonkey

With PicMonkey you can edit, touch up, design or create a collage. It is similar to Pixlr in function, but its interface is much more user friendly. Although users can edit and create images free of charge, one can upgrade to Royale for added effects, fonts, and textures. The monthly cost for Royale is $4.99 or you can opt for an annual membership of $33. It is a great tool for anyone who needs a quick photo editor with a short learning curve.
 

4. Quozio

Quozio is a quick and effortless tool that will give a simple quote a nice pop. Just provide a quote, pick a predetermined style and share. It’s that easy! There’s even a bookmarklet that makes it even more convenient to create an eye-catching quote – highlight text on any web page, click the bookmarklet, and your text is delivered into the tool for a hassle-free experience. The only downside to Quozio is its lack of font choice and custom styles. However, its favorable price tag – free! – and the convenience of no registration required makes this a charming, great-to-know tool.
 

5. Share As Image

Share As Image is a seamless tool that turns any text into a shareable image in seconds. This works just like Quozio, only it offers more options to customize font and background. Users can also play around with filters to add texture to their images. Once an image has been created, users can download it or easily share it on social media. You can use this tool for free if you’re open to having the Share As Image watermark at the bottom of your image. However, upgrading to the PRO account for $8/month will add your own branding, get access to premium photos, and manage your images. This handy tool is great for creating web images to accompany your content in any occasion.
 

6. Skitch

Skitch is a free application from Evernote that helps you create insightful content. This isn’t an exhaustive design tool, but rather a tool to bring out qualities within a screen shot or your own image — because sometimes all you really need is a little detail to strengthen your visuals. Fully equipped with bold arrows, text, shapes, pixelizer and a color palette, Skitch can turn a boring and unclear image into a resourceful asset.
 

7. Coggle

Sometimes, you may be dealing with a difficult subject that can be daunting to your audience. A great way of inviting your readers to dive into your post is to create a mind map. This visual can help guide your reader through complex ideas that otherwise might have gotten lost in translation. Coggle is a free, straightforward mind mapping tool that allows you to work independently or invite others to work on the map as well, after signing in with Google. Just double-click on the main Coggle to get started and the rest is cake.

How do you incorporate visuals into your content strategy? Tell us below!


Visit Visual.ly for the first version of this story.

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[INFOGRAPHIC] 7 Statistics That Can Raise Your Facebook Engagement

With organic reach and engagement numbers plunging on Facebook, marketers are doing everything they can to stay ahead of the game before the social platform goes to an exclusively pay-to-play model. 

A recent Ogilvy & Mather study found that brand posts in February reached just 6 percent of fans, compared to 12 percent in October. 

So frustrated by this perceived slap in the face was Eat24 that the company deleted its Facebook page and “broke up” with Facebook in an open letter that went viral. 

But maybe there’s hope. This infographic shares a few pointers to help boost your engagement. Beware, though, as soon as you find something that works, Facebook will undoubtedly switch its ever-devolving algorithm until all you see in your newsfeed is babies, kittens and whatever your super religious aunt is yammering about. 

Without further ado, check out the infographic below (and realize that its tips could be irrelevant by the time you finish reading it): 


Written by Kevin Allen. Kevin has developed social media strategies for Fortune 500 companies and created content for major brands across multiple social platforms. Previously, he served as an editor and reporter for theChicago Sun-Times, ESPNChicago.com, FoxSports.com and Ragan Communications. As a reporter, Kevin has covered MLB, NHL, NBA, PGA, NCAA football, national political campaigns, backyard barbecues and just about everything in between. He’s been a contributor to PR Daily since its launch. Visit PRDaily where this excerpt is originally appeared

INFOGRAPHIC: Cats More Popular Than Selfies in UK

While it’s no surprise the Internet fancies felines, cats have overtaken selfies in the U.K. Mobile network provider Three estimates Britons share more than 3.8 million online photos and videos of cats every day, compared to just 1.4 million selfies. More than 350,000 cat owners have a social network account set up for their pets.

The Brits love cats so much that they’ve crowdfunded a cat café that lets people de-stress by stroking cats while sipping a latte. It’s so popular, in fact, that it’s booked until June. The owners of a similar café in Paris say the purring vibrations relieve arthritis and rheumatism.

Three produced the following infographic detailing the most famous Internet cats. Among the stars is Tadar Sauce, deemed “Grumpy Cat,” who has an estimated brand value of over $1 million including a popular YouTube channel, a role in a Hollywood production, a clothing line, regular TV appearances, awards (including Buzzfeed’s 2013 Meme of the Year) and a talent agent.

Famous Internet Cats

View the Famous Internet Cats infographic.


By Christie Barakat. Christie is a freelance writer and assistant professor of media and psychology in Florence, Italy. Find her on Twitter at @christiebrkt. Visit SocialTimes where this story is originally appeared.

 

The evolving distribution and role of press releases

As best as I can piece the data together, the three largest news release distribution services (PR Newswire, BusinessWire and Marketwire) sent out roughly 642,000 news releases in 2013.

If you’re keeping score, that’s about 1,759 news releases per day.

Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. You can quote me on that. Put a half gallon of rocky road ice cream in front of Fat Albert, and even he’ll turn away before he hits bottom.

Exacerbating this dynamic, the ranks of journalists continue to decline. The number of reporters toiling in newsrooms is actually less today than in 1978 according to the Pew Research Center.

Pew Newsroom Workforce 2013 stats

The upshot – more news releases raining down on fewer journalists.

But explaining the commoditization of the news release as a form of supply-demand economics misses the root cause.

When distribution of the news release reached only the domain of the media, journalists enjoyed a free lunch. With little effort, they could write stories based on a news release, and those stories appeared fresh to their readers because they couldn’t find them elsewhere. This advantage disappeared around 1996 when news release distribution services started flinging out news releases to the masses via the Internet.

Stepping back in time for a moment, the timeline below offers the 10,000-foot view of how news release distribution has evolved.

Hoffman Infographic- Short history of distributing news releases

Journalists had a 90-year run of leveraging the news release as non-public information. When the gravy train ended in 1996, it changed everything, though it took some time to erode the status quo. Muscle memory doesn’t change so easily in the world of journalism.

Now, roughly 18 years since earmarking news releases for the public domain, it seems fair to say the commoditization of the news release is complete.

Given that journalists rarely write from news releases these days, why does the massive effort behind news releases – figure around 10 man hours per news release at $175 per hour translating into $3,078,082 of cost last year – continue?

That’s a good question.

Disclosure requirements explain only a small percent of the total pool. Plus, I’m sure this $3,078,082 number doubles or even triples taking into the account the news releases not earmarked for paid distribution.

Perhaps the PR industry has its own challenge with muscle memory.

Update: I rejoiced when I completed geometry in high school and my math education came to an end. So I wasn’t completely surprised when Chris Hogg pointed out that my math went astray in calculating how much money goes into the production of a news release. The correct number is $3,078,082 per day, not year.


Written by Lou Hoffman. He is CEO of the Hoffman Agency a global communications consultancy. He blogs on storytelling in business at Ishmael’s Corner, where a version of this article originally appeared.

Secrets to reading body language

Wordless communication—or, body language—can be a powerful tool.

But it can also betray you, bringing to the forefront some opinion or feeling that you’d rather the world not see.

As the infographic below points out, “Body language is all around us. Learning to read it can be one of the most valuable skills you have.”

It also suggests that most of our communication is nonverbal, with gestures accounting for 55 percent of our communication, compared to 38 percent vocal, and only 7 percent the actual words we use. (It should be noted that this statistic, also known as the “Mehrabian Myth,” is one that is often contested among various circles of professional communicators).

For some insight into what your body language is saying (and what others are saying with theirs), check out these tips from TopCounselingSchools.org:

About the Author

Kevin Allen has developed social media strategies for Fortune 500 companies and created content for major brands across multiple social platforms. Previously, he served as an editor and reporter for the Chicago Sun-TimesESPNChicago.com, FoxSports.com and Ragan Communications. As a reporter, Kevin has covered MLB, NHL, NBA, PGA, NCAA football, national political campaigns, backyard barbecues and just about everything in between. He’s been a contributor to PR Daily since its launch. The first version of this story appeared on http://bit.ly/1lFvoxW via @PRDaily

**I love infographic and non verbal communications so I really love this story. However, the information contained regarding Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak needs to be fixed. Ehud Barak is former Israeli special forces commando, IDF Chief of Staff and Israeli government minister, including Prime Minister., while Yasser Arafat represented Palestine.