Tuesday, October 3, 2017

19 Tools for Creating Engaging Social Media Videos, Images and GIFs in Minutes

19 Tools for Creating Engaging Social Media Videos, Images and GIFs in Minutes

Creating social media content takes time. And creating great social media content takes even more time.
This story originally appeared on Buffer
19 Tools for Creating Engaging Social Media Videos, Images and GIFs in Minutes
Image credit: Unsplash via Buffer
Creating social media content takes time. And creating great social media content takes even more time.
You don’t just need to think about what types of content you’re going to create, but also how you can customize your social media posts for each platform.
For example, you might create:
How do you find the time to create so many pieces of social media content?
Well, here’s some good news… with the right tools, you can save a bunch of time and create epic pieces of content in minutes.
We’d love to help you get the most out of every minute you spend creating social media content. Here are 19 social media content tools you can use to quickly create images, infographics, stories, videos and more.
Here are 19 social media content tools that can speed up your content creation:
  1. Lumen5
  2. BIGVU Teleprompter
  3. Animoto
  4. Rocketium
  5. Animaker
  6. Anchor
  7. Canva
  8. Crello
  9. Adobe Spark
  10. Stencil
  11. Piktochart
  12. Infogram
  13. Google Sheets
  14. GIPHY Capture
  15. CloudApp
  16. gifs.com
  17. Studio
  18. Typorama
  19. Placeit
Feel free to click on any of the tools to skip to the respective section.

1. Lumen5

Turn blog posts into engaging videos

Price: Free or $49 per month
Description: By analyzing the content of your blog post, Lumen5 can automatically create a video storyboard for you. It even recommends relevant images and videos, which you can easily use by dragging and dropping onto the respective frames.
Great for creating: Videos

How to create videos quickly with Lumen5:

A fast way of creating a useful video is to highlight only the key points of your blog post in your video.
After you enter your blog post URL into Lumen5, Lumen5 will display your blog post text on the left side of the app. Select the subheadings of your blog post (which are likely the key points) to add them to your storyboard. Lumen5 will then generate a video according to those subheadings.

2. BIGVU Teleprompter

A pocket TV-studio

Price: Free, $8.99 per month or $49.99 per year
Description: If you often retake your videos because you can’t remember what to say, you’ll love BIGVU Teleprompter. It displays your script as you record your video so that you can easily refer to your script. With its web video editor, you can also spice up your video by changing the background and adding captions.
Great for creating: Videos

How to create videos quickly with BIGVU Teleprompter:

In the teleprompter app, you first have to create your script. An easy way might be to draft your script on a desktop and transfer it to your smartphone via Google Drive or Dropbox.
If you want to record your video horizontally, hold your smartphone horizontally before tapping the camera icon.
There will be a five-second countdown once you tap the “REC” button. And the recording will automatically stop once the script ends.

3. Animoto

Make great videos. Easily.

Price: $16 per month, $42 per month or $64 per month (Annual subscriptions are up to 50 percent cheaper.)
Description: Animoto helps you turn your photos and video clips into video slideshows with minimal effort. It’s one of the few video tools that let you easily create square videos, too. We have been using Animoto to create many of our social videos (you can check out some of them here).
Great for creating: Short social videos

How to create videos quickly with Animoto:

Use one of the many storyboards provided by Animoto to speed up your video creation process.
Each storyboard is pre-made with a structure, a style, and a song. Once you have picked a storyboard, simply replace the template content with your photos and video clips and edit the text.
After you create your video, you can download it at various video quality and upload it directly to Facebook or Twitter to get more engagement and shares.

4. Rocketium

Quick video creation for social media

Price: Free, $19 per month, $49 per month, $149 per month or enterprise pricing (Annual subscriptions are at the price of 10 months.)
Description: With Rocketium, you can create videos for social media or advertising in minutes. You can easily switch between different video orientations -- landscape, portrait or square -- and Rocketium will automatically resize your media files and captions accordingly.
Great for creating: Videos and stories

How to create videos quickly with Rocketium:

Rocketium offers a library of pre-set templates and themes, which you can use to quickly style your videos.
After you have selected your photos and video clips and entered your caption for each scene, just hit any of the templates or themes and Rocketium will automatically style your video’s transition, caption and music for you.

5. Animaker

Make an awesome explainer video in minutes

Price: Free, $12 per month, $25 per month or $49 per month (Annual subscriptions are slightly cheaper.)
Description: Animaker makes it possible (and easy) to create animated videos with impressive effects without needing any technical skills in creating animations.
Great for creating: Animated videos and stories

How to create videos quickly with Animaker:

Animaker has over 40 templates you can use to create your animated video.
Each of these templates is essentially a ready-made video with the proper effects, transitions and music. To create your video or story quickly, you can just change the content and keep the rest as it is.

6. Anchor

Make cool audio, right from your phone

Price: Free
Description: Anchor is a social media platform for audio. With its app, you can easily create audio recordings and videos that are great for sharing on social media.
Great for creating: Audio recordings and videos

How to create videos quickly with Anchor:

With Anchor, you can create cool audio videos like this:
Here’s how to create such videos using the Anchor mobile app:
  1. Once you have recorded your audio, tap on the video icon
  2. Choose the theme of your Anchor video
  3. Check and edit the transcript of your recording
  4. Download it as a square, landscape or portrait video

7. Canva

Amazingly simple graphic design software

Price: Free, $12.95 per user per month or enterprise pricing
Description: Canva is one of our favorite design tools for creating social media graphics. You can create high-quality graphics quickly using the templates, layouts and design elements -- even on the free plan.
Great for creating: Images, quotes, stories and infographics

How to create graphics quickly with Canva:

Instead of creating your social media graphics from scratch, use Canva’s amazing library of templates, which you can use and customize -- for free!
There’s a section in the library purely for social media graphics.
You can access the library via the “Explore templates” option in your Canva dashboard or this direct link: https://www.canva.com/templates/.

8. Crello

Graphic design made easy

Price: Free (with some design elements at $0.99)
Description: Crello is a new graphic design tool that is very similar to Canva. Its advantage is that it offers more than 10,000 free design templates, 11,000 design elements and 65 million stock images.
Great for creating: Images, quotes and stories

How to create graphics quickly with Crello:

Just like Canva, Crello has an “Inspiration” tab where it showcases its free design templates.
Simply click on a design template and you can customize it using the Crello editor.

9. Adobe Spark

Make images, videos and web stories for free in minutes

Description: Adobe Spark is a design tool we’re starting to love a lot more, and it complements Canva nicely. It offers several unique features such as resizing, color palettes and style suggestions.
Great for creating: Images, quotes, videos and stories

How to create graphics quickly with Adobe Spark:

Apart from templates that you can remix, Adobe Spark has a feature that suggests design styles to you.
Instead of spending time thinking how you should design your graphics, all you have to do is turn a dial.
If you create Instagram stories often, we recently teamed up with Adobe Spark to create 10 free pre-made Instagram Stories templates.

10. Stencil

The fastest way to double your social engagement

Price: Free, $9 per month or $18 per month
Description: Stencil is built specifically to help you create social media graphics faster. Apart from its web app, it also has browser extensions, which you can use to create images from any website that you’re on.
Great for creating: Images, quotes, and stories

How to create graphics quickly with Stencil:

With Stencil’s browser extension, you can easily grab an image or text and convert it into a beautiful graphic to share on social media.
Here’s a quick example of creating a quote post in just a few seconds:
With such great power comes great responsibility.
Be sure to grab only images that are free-to-use (for personal or commercial use) and give appropriate credit on your graphics. A good way of using this extension is to share quotes from your blog posts.

11. Piktochart

Create easy infographics, reports, presentations

Price: Free, $15 per month or $29 per month (Annual subscriptions are 17 percent cheaper.)
Description: Piktochart is one of the most popular design tools for creating infographics. With the free plan, you can create an unlimited number of graphics and choose from over 4,000 icons and images.
Great for creating: Infographics, charts, graphs and presentations

How to create infographics quickly with Piktochart:

If you often create infographics, charts or graphs to share, a handy trick to know is that you can easily re-use your designs by copying a group of elements from one infographic and pasting them in another. Then you can change the data, color or font to make the design look new.
Here’s a GIF showing how it looks like:
Here are 18 more Piktochart hacks to help you save time and create nicer infographics.

12. Infogram

Create infographics, charts and maps

Price: Free, $25 per month, $79 per month, $149 per month or enterprise pricing (Annual subscriptions are up to 24 percent cheaper.)
Description: Infogram offers over 35 types of charts, 500 types of maps and a million images and icons to help you visualize your data beautifully.
Great for creating: Infographics, charts and maps

How to create charts quickly with Infogram:

A fast way to create charts with Infogram is to upload your own data.
Once you upload your data, your chart will update accordingly and you can then edit it as you wish.

13. Google Sheets

Create graphs and charts with your data

Price: Free
Description: I personally like using Googe Sheets to create simple graphs and charts quickly. I find it most suitable when I just want a simple graph or chart.
Great for creating: Graphs and charts

How to create charts quickly with Google Sheets:

Select the data in your Google Sheet and then click “Insert” > “Chart…”.
The chart editor will appear on the right-hand side. In there, you can change the chart type to the one that’s most appropriate for your data.

14. GIPHY Capture

The GIF maker on Mac

Price: Free
Description: With GIPHY Capture, you can capture anything on your screen -- video, demo, etc. -- with just a few clicks.
Great for creating: GIFs

How to create GIFs quickly with GIPHY Capture:

To record a GIF, simply change the size of the recording area according to your preference and hit the red record button.

15. CloudApp

Communicate Faster. Visually.

Price: $9 per month, $10 per user per month, $19 per user per month or enterprise pricing
Description: CloudApp is my go-to tool for grabbing a screenshot (and adding annotations), recording a video of my screen or myself or creating GIFs.
Great for creating: Screenshots, videos and GIFs

How to create screenshots, videos and GIFs quickly with CloudApp:

CloudApp has several keyboard shortcuts for quick access to its features. Here are a few handy ones to know for creating social media content:
  • Cmd + Shift + 5 (Alt + Shift + 5 on Windows) to take a screenshot
  • Cmd + Shift + 6 (Alt + Shift + 6 on Windows) to take a screen recording (in either GIF or HD)
  • Cmd + Shift + 8 (Alt + Shift + 8 on Windows) to record from your camera

16. gifs.com

Gif anything in seconds

Price: Free or $7.99/month to remove the watermark
Description: gifs.com not only allows you to create GIFs quickly but also allows you to add many effects, such as captions, stickers, padding and more, to your GIFs.
Great for creating: GIFs

How to create GIFs quickly with gifs.com:

gifs.com has an auto-gif feature that can save you some time while creating GIFs.
Once you have found the video you want to use (either by searching in the library or pasting a YouTube URL), select “auto-gif." gifs.com will then find the best moments in the video and suggests six GIFs to you.
Select your favorite GIF and click “Continue." gifs.com will instantaneously create that GIF for you.

17. Studio

Create with the power of remixing

Price: Free
Description: With Studio, you can tap into the design skills of its community. Apart from creating original designs, you can remix existing designs from the community (i.e. use the design layers with your own photo).
Great for creating: Images and quotes

How to create images quickly with Studio:

It takes only three steps to remix a design:
  1. Select a design that you want to remix
  2. Tap the “Remix” button
  3. Select the photo you want to use with the design layers
  4. (Optional) Edit or add more layers

18. Typorama

Typography designer and easy graphics app

Price: Free, $4.99 to remove the watermark or $5.99 to unlock everything
Description: Typorama makes it very easy to create amazing-looking graphics on-the-go. You can create graphics of various sizes such as for Instagram story, Facebook cover photo, Twitter post and more. (WordSwag is a great alternative to Typorama on Android.)
Great for creating: Images, quotes and stories

How to create graphics quickly with Typorama:

You can create a graphic with Typorama in just four steps.
  1. Choose a background or upload an image from your camera roll
  2. Select your graphic size
  3. Add and edit the text
  4. Save or share it on social media

19. Placeit

Beautiful product mockups and videos in seconds

Price: Free, one-time purchase, $29 per month, $99 per month or $199 per month
Description: Placeit allows you to showcase your digital product and designs in realistic environments. You can save the time and money that would have been spent on a photo shoot just to get such images.
Great for creating: Images and videos

How to create mockups quickly with Placeit:

First, search for your desired environment. A trick is to include your preferred device (e.g. iPhone or Mac) and background (e.g. office or cafe).
Then, upload your image or enter a URL to grab a screenshot from the URL. Placeit will automatically place your image in your selected environment.
This story originally appeared on Buffer


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
by Susan Gunelius 
Susan Gunelius - VIP CONTRIBUTOR

Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.

It's vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and -- perhaps most importantly -- your bottom line.

1. The Law of Listening
Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.

2. The Law of Focus
It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.

3. The Law of Quality

Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.

4. The Law of Patience
Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.

5. The Law of Compounding
If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.

This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.

6. The Law of Influence
Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.

If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.

7. The Law of Value
If you spend all your time on the social Web directly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

8. The Law of Acknowledgment

You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you.

9. The Law of Accessibility

Don’t publish your content and then disappear. Be available to your audience. That means you need to consistently publish content and participate in conversations. Followers online can be fickle and they won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.

10. The Law of Reciprocity
You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on social media should be focused on sharing and talking about content published by others. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

7 of the Coolest YouTube Banners We've Ever Seen

Written by Amanda Zantal-Wiener

What Makes a Good YouTube Banner?


A YouTube channel banner will take on different dimensions, depending on what platform is being used to view it. For example, a banner might have different dimensions when viewed on a TV, desktop, or mobile device.
For the sake of display consistency, then, Google suggests going with an image that's 2560 x 1440 px. It also sets the following guidelines:
  • Minimum dimension for upload: 2048 x 1152 px
  • Minimum "safe area" where text and logos are ensured not to be cut off : 1546 x 423 px
  • Maximum width: 2560 x 423 px
  • File size: 4MB or smaller
Here's a helpful visual representation of those dimensions:
Source: Google


Let's start with a note about where dimensions and design intersect. You might think that 2560 x 1440 px -- Google's suggested dimensions we mentioned earlier -- seems like an exorbitantly large file size. But think about how your image would appear on a 30" smart TV or higher. With a growing number of options to view YouTube videos in this way, you'll want to make sure your channel art is large enough to display with quality on larger screens.
Also, take note of the "safe area" we alluded to in the first section. Your banner is essentially the biggest branding opportunity for when people land on your channel, so you'll want to make sure that it's well-represented in the channel art. That's why it might be best to make sure your company name and logo are placed in that space -- to make sure they don't get cut off and cause the viewer confusion as to who's behind the video content on the page.
If you're not sure how to take up the entirety of a 2560 x 1440 frame, video production company MiniMatters suggests "build[ing] the image from the middle out," putting the most important assets in the center, and going from there.
Finally, as to what to put in your banner, we like to follow a few basic rules:
  • Use a high-resolution image. A pixelated or blurry banner doesn't exactly signal that there's high-quality video to follow.
  • Keep it on-brand. While your channel art doesn't have to be a carbon copy of your logo or tagline, it should incorporate visual elements that you want associated with your brand, like certain colors, fonts, or keywords.
  • Your banner should represent what your company does in a timely fashion. For example, if you run a bakery and you're gearing up for summer, an eye-catching banner might be a high-res photo of a brightly-colored work surface covered with flour and a rolling pin, along with accompanying text like, "April showers bring May flours."

How to Make a YouTube Banner

"That's just great, Amanda," you might be thinking about these tips. "But where the heck am I supposed to get these beautiful design assets?"
Well, you're in luck -- it turns out that there are dozens of free resources for creating a great YouTube banner. Here are a few of our favorites:
  • Google: Why not start with the hosting platform itself? Google has its very own channel art templates to help you get started with your banner design. (Note: Clicking this link will prompt an automatic download of the zip file containing these templates.)
  • Canva: One of our go-to destinations for DIY design, Canva offers several free YouTube channel art templates that allow you to use your own art, or its library of stock photography.
  • Fotor: Similar to Canva, Fotor also offers a selection of free templates that allow you to use both your own visual assets or its own library of images.

8 Cool YouTube Channel Art Examples

1) Death Wish Coffee Company

Death Wish Coffee Company.png
In 2016, Death Wish Coffee was named the winner of a small business marketing competition held by software company Intuit. The reward? A free 30-second commercial during Super Bowl 50. Since then, the self-proclaimed maker of “the world’s strongest coffee” has capitalized on that momentum by making sure its branding stays just as robust.
Its YouTube banner is no exception. It’s straightforward, but also, bold. The company’s logo is displayed as the channel icon, as well as a tiled watermark that doesn’t interfere with the text display. And that message doesn’t leave any doubt about what the brand does. “World’s strongest coffee?” Okay, I’m watching.

2) Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud.png
Seeing as turquoise is my all-time favorite color, there might be a touch of aesthetic bias in our selection of Adobe Creative Cloud’s YouTubebanner. But color can have quite an impact in marketing -- shades of blue, for example, have been found to invoke feelings of trust.
This banner doesn’t just make great use of color, though. In a single photo, it connotes creativity and visual quality -- two things that the Adobe Creative Cloud promises with its suite products. The person depicted seems to be creating something remarkable -- an ocean inside of a balloon -- with accompanying text to confirm it: “Make wow.” Plus, to learn more, social buttons are right there within the image.

3) Bon Appétit

Bon Appétit.png
Is anyone else hungry? It only seems right that the channel art for a food magazine like Bon Appétit should be, well, appetizing. And with a phrase that’s used as frequently as “bon appétit” -- before a meal or as the title of a pop song -- it’s important that folks who land on this YouTube channel know what they’re getting into.
That’s one thing that makes this banner so great. The branding is clear, from the logo icon to the iconic title text in the center of the image. Plus, the photo itself sends a signal of the type of content visitors can expect to consume -- no pun intended -- when they start watching the channel’s videos: All things food.

4) TauliaInc

One great thing about YouTube banners is that they can be swapped out or modified whenever you want, time permitting. That makes them especially conducive to temporary promotions or campaigns. That’s what tech company Taulia did for “P2P Superheroes”: a campaign that shows how its software can eliminate difficult, time-consuming tasks, helping everyday professionals focus more on the work that matters and turn them into superheroes.
The banner communicates two things: 1) That Taulia is in the business of P2P (“procure to pay”), and 2) the brand really celebrates procurement specialists. And by using original, cartoon-like art, Taulia is turning what could be a dry topic into something fun and engaging.

5) Refinery29

We’re big fans of showcasing the people that make your brand great. That’s one thing that Refinery29 does well, by frequently featuring its writers, editors, and content producers in its videos. As it turns out, they’ve all become quite popular personalities -- which is why the brand put them front-and-center in its channel art.
Creating a banner of this nature is two-fold. First, you have to find a way to incorporate your company’s talent into video content in a way that’s engaging and appealing to your target audience. Here at HubSpot, we have our blog writers, for example, recount important information from blog posts in video and audio summaries. Then, once you’ve produced enough of that media consistently -- and if it’s gaining the right kind of attention -- you can use those personalities to promote your channels.

6) TripAdvisor B2B

TripAdvisor B2B.png
TripAdvisor is a resource used by millions of travelers to discover and rate lodgings, restaurants, and much more information about endless destinations. But did you know it also offers B2B services for hotel and other property owners to make the most of their presence on the site?
We like to think of it as a B2B hybrid of review site Yelp and vacation rental site Airbnb. On the one hand, TripAdvisor B2B helps business owners create a profile with photos, descriptions, and other information that’s going to be helpful to travelers. But, like Yelp, it also allows them to monitor and respond to the reviews their businesses receive.
That’s represented in the YouTube banner by portraying what the site is all about -- travel -- but also depicts the act of visitors giving feedback on their experiences by way of rating symbols.

7) Nuvolari Lenard

nuvolari lenard-1.png
The thing that stands out to us the most about this banner is its simplicity. It represents a Italian yacht design company Nuvolari Lenard, which is known for work that emulates a luxury and chic lifestyle. And while the channel art itself doesn’t portray anything specifically nautical, the use of capital letters and tiered monochrome does connote a brand that’s high-end.
Those kinds of digital aesthetics create what’s often known as aspirational marketing -- the kind that symbolizes something that’s unattainable by most, but still has a vast following of people “who covet the look and feel of the brand,” as Mediaboom puts it. Can I afford a yacht? Of course not. But seeing something like this makes me want one anyway, and makes me want to consume the video content pertaining to it.

Channel Your Creativity

It’s important to note that really cool YouTube channel art is just one part of a comprehensive video content strategy. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your banner is, for example, if your channel lacks in quality video, or hasn’t added anything new in several weeks.
So, along with great design must come consistency. And as you begin to create both, you can turn to these examples for inspiration.
What are some of your favorite YouTube banners? Let us know in the comments.

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