How to Create Social Media Content That is Engaging, Easy to Produce, and Affordable
Social Media Management Doesn’t Have To Be Intimidating or Expensive
Table of Contents
- List of Resources
- Consumers Will First Vet You Online
- Social Media Doesn’t Have To Be Intimidating or Expensive
- Your Free and Low-Cost Social Media Tools
- Wrapping Up
List of Resources
First and Foremost: Consumers Will Investigate You Online
Before initiating contact, consumers and potential prospects will check you out on the internet. Here’s Why
To connect with those buyers, you need to produce and maintain original and engaging social media content. If your small business’ social media is lacking or absent, you are missing out on a crucial opportunity to capture these leads.
So strive to establish a consistent online presence with simple content that authentically shares your brand’s story and offers helpful insights. And yes – you can accomplish this yourself easily and affordably. Read on to find out how.
Social Media Doesn’t Have To Be Intimidating or Expensive
Today, any business requires a solid and active social media identity. This means:
- planning a social media content calendar in advance
- creating relevant graphics and text
- scheduling and publishing consistently
However, if you are managing this process internally, you may be unsure where to start, what to post on social media, how to produce it, and how to manage the entire process.
You may see colleagues sporting professional-looking social media graphics and videos, engaging captions, hashtags, and copy.
It can be intimidating if you’re new to social media or striving to understand or improve, especially if you are a small business without in-house social media, copywriting, graphic design, or video production staff.
Rest assured: creating social media content and designing social media graphics doesn’t have to be intimidating or even expensive to produce. Simple content that authentically shares your brand’s story and offers helpful insights can be affordable as you reach and engage followers.
Due to the fast pace of social media, the style is often more candid and informal than traditional mass media. This means that a small team or even an individual can use free or low-cost content creation tools to make simple yet effective social media content.
Whether you need to strengthen your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Youtube presence, these tools may help.
Fortunately, there are powerful and easy-to-use apps that have free or reasonably priced subscription plans. Freemium apps are common in the social media and online marketing fields.
Free and Low-Cost (Freemium) Social Media Tools
Stock Photos, Images, and Media
Attractive yet engaging images are essential for success on most social media platforms. The ideal, of course, is original photographs, illustrations, or infographics created by you, members of your team, or customers. However, that isn’t always possible.
Stock media images can stand in and work well to convey a message, concept, mood, or feeling. Many online services and websites offer free, freemium, and premium plans that small businesses and creatives can use to create social media graphics, illustrations, and other marketing materials. Here are a few to get you started:
- Pexels – Their search and mobile app make it easy to find appropriate images.
- Unsplash – A social stock photography platform that allows you to curate themed sets.
- Kaboom Pics – Includes a feature that suggests a complementary color palette.
- Pixabay – Over 1.8 million images contributed by users.
- Gratisography– Quirky stock photography.
- Creative Market – A marketplace of free and reasonably priced professional elements – fonts, templates, images, and other graphics. It is well worth a look if you want something a cut above the free stock sites mentioned earlier.
Be sure to read the license terms as they vary. As you browse these and other sites, you may notice that you have seen some of the photos on other websites, social media, television, or even in films.
Social Media Graphics and Layouts
Each social platform has its preferred file size and aspect ratio. By creating variations suited to each outlet, you better control your business brand and identity. Fortunately, there are powerful yet easy-to-use apps and tools for creating social media graphics and layouts that have either free or reasonably priced subscription plans. Quite a few free plans will likely suit your need for social media and online marketing, but if you require more options or flexibility, upgrading to low-cost/freemium monthly or annual plans are available with “cancel anytime” policies.
Here are a few free and freemium online social media tools to explore:
- Canva – Canva offers both free and subscription plans. Canva’s free plan has everything you need to start designing social media graphics for every popular platform. The premium version provides the ability to create a brand kit for consistent use of colors, fonts, logos, and other elements, as well as resize an existing design “on the fly” and repurpose it for various other social media platforms.
- Canva is also useful for video creation.
- Design Cuts – Create on-trend social media graphics using templates, brand kits, and scene creators sold at this marketplace.
- Bonus: Subscribe to Design Cuts and receive free graphics, fonts, layouts, and resources of all varieties every Friday.
- PicMonkey – This freemium photo editing app has more options than Canva if you need to retouch or edit a photograph. Downloading and saving images requires a subscription plan.
- Pablo – A simple web app that allows for quick creation of social media graphics, and integrates nicely with Buffer, a social media planning and publishing tool.
- Creative Market – Creative Market is a great resource for professional fonts, templates, and other graphic elements at reasonable prices.
- Bonus: Subscribe to Creative Market and receive freebies via email.
Social Media Videos, GIFs, Animations
- FlexClip – With a vast array of templates, stock images, stock videos, and stock audio, FlexClip is a feature-rich video creation app suitable for an abundance of use cases and industries. While some minor features are lacking, the editor and interface are relatively easy to navigate after reviewing a few brief tutorials. Best used in Chrome.
- Bonus: FlexClip includes an AI-powered caption and subtitle feature. Captions and subtitles make your video more accessible to the hearing-impaired who rely on captions and transcripts. Captions are also useful for social media users who browse with audio muted.
- Wave – Wave is similar to FlexClip in terms of features and functionality. Wave integrates a few additional features that are lacking in FlexClip. However, some Wave users find the editor and interface confusing and less user-friendly than the FlexClip. Best used in Chrome.
- Bonus: Wave offers a free social media “idea calendar,” replete with hashtags, suggested captions, and sample videos. The calendar can easily be integrated into a native calendar app, so you always have ideas and content at your virtual fingertips.
- Canva – Similar to Canva’s graphics and layout design tools, the Canva video and slideshow creator is a simple yet powerful app. Non-designers can easily create social media videos, animations, and slideshows, using a wide variety of templates and the ability to add custom text, images, music, timing, transitions, and more. While Canva lacks some features and functionality, the developers and team behind Canva are constantly rolling out improvements and upgrades.
- Bonus: Canva comes with a mobile app, allowing for on-the-fly video, image, and content creation.
- Adobe Spark – While the free version has subtle branding, Spark integrates many useful features.
- Bonus: Spark has a free app for mobile devices.
- Lumen5 – The free plan lets you create three videos per month from your blog posts or written content.
- Giphy – A popular GIF-sharing network. You can publish GIFs that others have shared, or upload and publish your own GIFs.
Social Media Planning and Publishing Tools
Finally, part of maintaining a professional social media presence is planning content and publishing consistently.
Free and low-cost social media scheduling and publishing apps allow you to brainstorm, strategize, plan, and execute your social media calendar content weeks or even months in advance. This simplifies your scheduling and workflow efforts, and ensures your content is published at optimum times.
Using a content planner allows you to publish relevant and consistent content, rather than scrambling at the last minute just to get content out there.
The most sophisticated tools offer scheduling, analytics, image creation, and even topic research tools on a subscription basis. Some offer trials of their pro plans as a teaser to give brands a chance to try the platform – a worthy exercise – while completely free plans tend to be limited to just a few profiles.
A few include:
- Buffer – An easy-to-use, comprehensive app that integrates with Feedly, a handy add-on to supplement your native social media posts.
- Facebook’s Creator Studio
- Tip: Many other social media platforms, such as Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube also have built-in scheduling options.
- CoSchedule – Powerful content scheduling app with many features.
Experiment with free plans or generous free trials to see which one is right for you, your workflow, and your business goals.
One of the most challenging steps to creating and publishing successful social media graphics is crafting visuals that are cohesive with your brand and message. Easy social media content creation is possible using these free and inexpensive tools.