From images to GIFs, polls to video it's never been more important to create great content which engages and tells your story well.
Creating stand-out for your communications and campaigns in a hugely busy online world can be difficult but it needs to be the aim. One of the ways in which this can be done is by creating engaging and original content and mastering some of the many free tools.
Images with text and ‘memes' can be really good ways of increasing your engagement rates on a number of social media platforms. There are a huge range of tools at our disposal now. Canva, Pablo and Phonto are just three worth looking at, all free and simple to use via a smartphone.
Prisma is another worth trying if you're struggling for interesting images to support your posts (it will take your original images and apply a range of artistic styles to your choice to the image within seconds and give you the chance to be very creative with what you share)
The lowdown on GIFs
GIF stands for graphics interchange format and they can be a really simple way of creating a moving image within going to the extent of creating a video. Essentially, there are two types of GIF available to use on social media – those from a GIF library (e.g. using Twitter's own library of GIFs) and self-generated GIFs using your own stills or video clips.
There are several sites and apps where you can create a GIF for free – Google ‘make a gif' and you'll see what's on offer. Three sites to look at to get you started are:
Infographics can be very effective for communicating detailed information and numbers in easy-to-access, bite-sized chunks. They can be ideal for social media.
Piktochart is a popular tool for creating infographics and offers a free version, which is easy to use. Worth looking at to help you generate interesting content.
For further reading on some of the great tools and platforms out there which can help you create great compelling content, simply and for free, take a look at this post by Kelly Quigley-Hicks which reviews many of the best apps and tools currently available.
Using social media to tell your stories
Both Instagram and Snapchat offer their own ‘Stories' functionality giving organisations the opportunity to tell their own stories in a very natural way and which lends a very authentic feel. Instagram is probably the easier to get to grips with if you're a new user. Snapchat is initially perhaps a little less intuitive but that's deliberate because it's aimed primarily at a younger demographic audience who seem to adopt it quite simply.
A word about video
Video has become an important chuck of the internet and again offers communicators with an additional method of engaging and supporting campaigns and plans.
Many councils now use video effectively to support their key priorities. Bath and North East Somerset are as active as anyone and here's a useful post on their top tips, what they have learned and half a dozen examples of the short films they have created to support their communications objectives.
This video by Oldham Council explaining how the council budget is spent is another good example of how video can make the often detailed message more accessible.
Top tip – innovate, but be focused
Those running social media accounts are blessed with an enormous range of tools and apps to help keep our content interesting. And new tools are launched every week to add to this rich offer, Twitter Moment being one of the latest new options to look at. It can feel a bit daunting trying to keep abreast of every new development and app launch. The trick is not to try and be a master of them all – work out which ones you get the best results from and concentrate on these in the short term. When you've carved out your five per cent innovation time you'll have the opportunity to check out what else is on the market.