Paid vs. Free Social Media Marketing Tools for Online Visuals

By Michael Baker , Apr 23 2020

Social media used to be a tool for virtual socializing. Find new friends, connect with the old ones, and share what’s up. Over the years, however, it has become much more than that. Not only do we use social media to check daily news and latest information, but we also use our favorite social media platforms to share the news we’ve heard, have conversations about it, discover new products and activities, market our content and business, and do so much more.

As social media is probably the most populous space on the Internet – 90.4% millennials, 77.5% Gen X and 48.2% of Baby Boomers use social media daily – it has become the best place to share what matters to you. For businesses, that means a fertile ground to launch marketing campaigns, introduce new brands, and advertise their content.

But not every kind of content is treated equally by social media users. There, the audience is more visual than anywhere else on the planet. Images, videos, animations, all are more favored by social media users than plain blog posts. Using social media’s focus on visuals, you can drive home your branding there. Make sure everything you post follows a consistent color scheme, for example. Place your logo on every image, video, and infographic you post on social media. And let people know your name.

The visual nature of social media is the reason that Facebook has now dedicated a whole section to its videos, all your friends are posting Instagram Stories, and there are more image-based tweets now than ever before. And not to forget TikTok, the newest kid on the block that has swiftly made its place among the big boys. If you’re seeking tools to create visuals for your social media strategy, using easy-to-use design templates from a reputable service might be exactly what you need. These innovative templates can simplify the process of generating attractive posts while maintaining a consistent visual identity.

According to statistics, it is now the top 7th social media platform across the globe; far ahead of Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat with Ariana Grande, few of the Kardashian clan and even Will Smith present on the platform.

The visual nature of TikTok and all the other social media platforms tells you what you need to know to master the SMM game: you need to become more visual in your content strategy. Even if you’re a novice and don’t know how to ace the video making, there are tons of free as well as paid tools such as invideo that can equip you with the knowledge and practice.

Should you go with the free tools or invest in the paid ones, that’s our topic of discussion today. Below you will find visual content divided into categories and we’ll share our views on one paid and one free tool in each category. Our choice of the tools has been based on the features provided by each tool, its ease of use, and the value it adds to your content.

So, let’s start.

1. Video

Videos are probably the most popular type of visual content you’ll find on social media. According to market studies, 90% of internet users say they watch videos online at least once a month. It’s a HUGE number, in case you haven’t noticed. In addition to regular videos, live videos are also popular among the masses.

While going live is simple enough – you just have to click a button – creating a video from scratch can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t very techy. Exploring video editing software for beginners can significantly ease this process. The following tools help make the process easier to get a hang of and creating videos and slideshows no longer seem foreign ideas reserved only for the experts.

– Paid: Biteable

Image Source: Biteable

While making videos on Biteable is free, it comes with another kind of price tag attached – a very visible and undeletable watermark. You can only remove it with one of Biteable’s paid versions which start at $15 a month and go as far as $49 a month. The app offers you monthly or yearly payment options.

The reason you should invest in a Biteable subscription is the unimaginable variety it provides when it comes to video creation. You can create animated videos, explainer videos, video ads for social media, presentations, promos, and oh-my’s-God so much more. The process is insanely easy, the UI is like butter, and the stock templates are professionally designed by experts.

– Paid: AVS Video Editor

Image Source: Avs4you

It is a powerful video editing program that allows you to record original videos, processes them in HD quality, and edit and mix them using ‘innovative video effects and transitions’. The intuitive programming of the software makes it quite easy to use even for the beginners – all thanks to its straightforward user interface.

The video editing software now has a new feature of Slide Shows which can come pretty handy when you have presentations to make and none of the free programs can cut it.

– Free: Flexclip

Image Source: FlexClip

Flexclip is the free video making tool that does not have stubborn watermarks that you can’t get rid of.

The service itself is pretty easy to use, has great visuals, the process to create and produce the video is easy and you can also download your creations for further use. With cool video templates, options to create videos for business, fun, personal use, and other industries the app provides great value as a free service. You can also convert your videos into different formats, trim the clips, and record your voiceovers.

– Free: OpenShot

Image Source: OpenShot

OpenShot is a cool video editing program that is quick to learn and easy to use. The best thing about it is that it’s free – as the Internet was supposed to be. The developers do, however, request that you donate to their cause so they can continue creating free and open-source software.

Using OpenShot, you can not only simply edit and trim but can also add video effects, animation, choose from an unlimited number of tracks to include in your videos and even have cool slow-mo effects. OpenShot is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows.

2. Images

Image-based content is so popular on social media that there aren’t even any more discussions about it. Everyone who uses social media – whether for fun or business – knows that images, be they graphics, screenshots, pictures, anything, gets more engagement and traction than plain text. Facebook’s algorithm also favors posts that have pictures in them and displays them on priority in your newsfeed.

And creating image-based content isn’t that difficult. You can simply accompany your text with a great picture – original or stock – or you can become more creative. To keep your viewers engaged and interested, though, you need to make an effort. Learn some neat graphic design tips to help you create attractive visuals for your social media accounts. Use high-quality graphics, make sure they are relevant, adopt an uncluttered approach (don’t fill your graphics with long strands of text), and must always follow a consistent design theme. You can use social media scheduling tools like Plannthat to connect with your audience consistently.

– Paid: ImageQuote

Image Source: Apple App Store

A piece of content that is always popular on social media is quote posters. Beautiful backgrounds decorated with inspiring, motivating, and sometimes hilarious one-liners. People share them enthusiastically, comment on them, and these pieces are always considered an engagement-magnet.

With ImageQuote, an iOS app, you can create such posters without compromising your image quality or aesthetics. Pick from hundreds of premade image templates, choose between a variety of fonts, and you can also add your own images to further customize your content.

While the basic version of the app is free, to use its premium features and make the most of it, the paid version is ten times better.

– Paid: Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark
Image Source: Adobe Spark

If you want a content creation software that gives the best value for money, Adobe Spark fits the bill. You can create image-based content for several kinds of social media posts such as Facebook covers, Instagram posts, and stories, photo collages, and branded content too.

Using its branded content feature, you can add your brand’s logo on every post you create. This way, no matter which platform you share your content on and what kind of post you’ve made, you can ensure it carries your brand forward. You can also make your content more centrally designed by following a consistent color theme and font choices. Since Adobe Spark is a cloud-based service, you can share your content directly from the app to your social media accounts.

– Free: BeFunky

Image Source: Befunky

What AdobeSpark will do for a fee, BeFunky can do for free – with few limitations, of course. However, if you are a new start-up and do not have a budget for buying a subscription-based service, BeFunky is more than up to the task. It has thousands of captivating images, templates, and designs that you can use in your social media visuals. You can also manipulate your own images with it, make on-the-go memes, create inspiration quote posters, and so much more.

It has a pretty smooth interface and works fast.

– Free: Pablo

Image Source: Pablo

In addition to its free image library and extensive editing features, what I like most about Pablo by Buffer is that it gives you the option to add your brand logo to each image – in the free tool. For marketers, it’s an amazing feature to be able to easily brand your visual assets.

With Pablo, you can upload your own images to work on, choose between cool filters, add quotes in a variety of alignments, and even have your image downloaded in default sizes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others.

Explore: Should Social Media Marketers Know Graphic Design?

Explore: 10 Revolutionary Ways To Capitalize Live Streaming Videos

3. Infographics

Infographics are another source of visual content that is growing extremely popular. With Infographics, you can compress a lot of information in a very concise and appealing way that makes its absorbance and retention pretty effective.

While creating infographics is the work of graphic designers, with the help of online technology, anyone can create clever IGs now.

– Paid: Infogram

Image Source: Infogram

It is an ‘intuitive visualization’ tool that you can employ to condense information and present it in an appealing and engaging way. The software offers ready collaboration and the ability to share online instantly. It also has branding capabilities which means you can give your infographics a consistent design theme, add your logos and taglines on your content, and make it all look infinitely polished.

The infographics you create with Infogram are not static pieces of graphic images; with enhanced features, you can add clickable links, tabs, and toolbars on your IGs. Not to mention the animations you can create with them.

– Paid: Venngage

Image Source: Venngage

Venngage is a to-the-point and straightforward infographics creation tool. Simply select your template, add your data, and you’re done. With the premium features, you can brand your infographics with your business logo and enjoy hundreds of professionally designed templates of charts, reports, and media images that you can easily download and share on your social media.

– Free: Piktochart

Image Source: Piktochart

Piktochart offers you the ability to compete with the big names in your market by creating infographics that let your data shine. You seriously do not have to compromise on your business goals or your content strategy because of your budget. With Piktochart’s easy application, creating worthwhile infographics is a matter of minutes.

With simple drag-and-drop options, 1000s of free icons, attractive color schemes, and so much more, you can create infographics that tell your stories effectively.

– Free: PowerPoint Templates

Image Source: HubSpot

Hubspot has created these powerful infographic templates to be used in PowerPoint to create customizable and share-worthy data presentations. These templates not only work on PowerPoint but you can also use them on Illustrator with equal effectiveness.

4. Memes

If you’re thinking you’re too sophisticated for memes, think again. For Millennials and Gen-X especially, memes are a great way to get their attention. The simplicity of meme humor is that you can pick up any image and it can have aspects, stories, and nuances that go on forever.

If you’re running a youth-centered business, occasionally posting a relevant meme can drive your engagements exponentially.

– Paid: Meme Generator by ZomboDroid

Image Source: GooglePlay

While meme-making is pretty easy and you don’t have to pay a lot to create a good one, paying for Meme Generator by ZomboDroid can make meme production easy for you. It contains absolutely no ads, which means no delays, no interruptions, and swift meme creation.

Plus, it not only lets you create memes using your own images but has 1000+ meme templates that you can readily use for your needs. The app keeps updating with newer memes, better features, and more categories to keep you interested.

– Paid: Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop
Image Source: Adobe

You may not think making a meme would require you to purchase Photoshop but the thing is, the Internet is riddled with low-resolution and low-quality memes that may look funny but they also make your look lazy and unprofessional.

To match your zesty humor, it’s important to pair it with images that are sharp and high-quality. And that’s where Photoshop comes in. To create a meme in Photoshop, simply open your image, add a layer of text to the top or the bottom (or both). Then edit your image further as you see fit and your HD quality meme is ready to be downloaded and shared.

– Free: MakeAMeme

Make a Meme
Image Source: MakeaMeme

As I said, the meme generation doesn’t have to cost a thing. With MakeAMeme, the process is as easy as 1-2-3. Simply upload a picture, add the text, and click on Make The Meme. There are no terrible watermarks to tarnish your beautiful content and the download is swift.

– Free: MemeGen by Imgur

Image Source: Imgur

Imgur is primarily an image-storing service but it has an easy to use meme generator tool, too, that you can use to create some funny content. With MemeGen by Imgur, you can choose to either use an original photo or select from their default meme collection to edit it according to your joke.

Creating a meme is pretty straightforward then. Just add your text and your image is ready to be downloaded and shared.

5. GIFs

The concept behind GIFs is the same as the one behind memes. Easy humor with lots of layers and one clip that can address so many other topics too. While you can use memes and GIFs occasionally for your social media posts, they really find their place among brands with a high concentration of the younger audience.

So if you are a serious business like a law firm or a business school, perhaps use these content ideas only sparingly.

– Paid: Imgflip

Image Source: Imgflip

Here’s another program that’s free with a tiny watermark attached. Since you really cannot use content that contains another company’s branding for your own promotion, you have to buy the Pro plan. But worry not, it isn’t expensive – only $9.95 a month.

The paid service allows you to create GIFs from videos as well as by combining images. There won’t be ads which means your page will load faster, there won’t be any watermark to disrupt your content, the animation will be smoother, plus everything you create will be high-definition (and beyond).

– Paid: Filmora

Image Source: Filmora

Filmora’s GIF creation tool is the work of masters. Since it’s originally a video editing program, you wouldn’t think it’ll have an easy GIF-making process – but it does. You simply have to capture the portion of the video that you want to turn into a GIF and from then it’s a simple matter of adding captions, resizing if you want, adding some textures for the added effect and you’re done.

The reason paying for Filmora is worth it because of the quality of the production you’ll get. You’ll even be able to brand your GIF and not have to worry about another company’s watermark tainting your creation.

– Free: GIPHY

Image Source: Giphy

It is a remarkable free tool to create your GIFs. As with Imgflip, you can create GIFs by both stringing along images together or by using a video clip. The process then-on is efficiently simple. Add captions, choose fonts, pick animation styles if you like to add any and when you’re done decorating your GIF, upload it to GIPHY. From there, you can embed it to your blog post, share it directly on your social media, or copy the link to paste wherever you want.

– Free:

GifMaker Me
Image Source: GifMakerMe

In the list of free tools, this one is definitely among the top contenders because of its ease to use and straightforward process. You can create GIFs by either combining images (up to 300 of them!) or using videos.

You can also add music to your GIFs, create or add animated icons, and resize the GIF according to your needs. Social media sharing is quite easy and the service is easy enough to be mastered by anyone, whether a professional or an amateur.

6. Presentations

Presentations help you combine different sorts of visual content into a single slide show for purposes when you want to present information more interactively. To showcase your vision for the new product, or to present findings from a report that your viewers had been waiting, presentations serve many purposes.

– Paid: Prezi

Image Source: Prezi

Prezi is a cloud-based service, highly popular in the market, and hailed as the best by many who use it – IBM is one of them.

It gives you access to a huge library of design and presentation templates that you can use in your content, icons and images that help you make your point, and with intuitive tools like zooming in on a particular image or point in the presentation, helps you tell the story more effectively. Plus it has the drag-and-drop production features which make life easy.

– Paid: Emaze

Image Source: Emaze

It’s an online presentation making tool with professionally designed templates in a variety of categories like business, education, advertisement, resumes, and so many others. Making the use of this extensive library, you can create beautiful and impactful presentations for your work as well as school. The tool allows you to add audio, video, and images to your presentations, to make them more engaging and interesting.

With Emaze, you can either show your presentations live from the program or choose to download them to share on your social media. With the tool’s built-in analytics, you can also get important data information that can help you further in your goals.

– Free: Google Slides

Google Slides
Image Source: Google/Slides

Google Slides is your tested and trusted partner in presentation making. It’s simple, gets the job done, and doesn’t cost a thing. It has fonts, themes, images, and collaboration tools which make presentations interesting. Since it has the download option as well, you can use Google Slides to make presentations which you can then easily upload to your social media.

– Free: PowerPoint Online

Powerpoint Online
Image Source: PowerPoint Online

Microsoft’s PowerPoint was the one that launched the new face of presentations. It’s still one of the best presentation tools to use when you do not have a lot of budget. It’s easy, familiar for many people, and gets the job done effectively. Using its new template feature you can now not only browse form the existing ones but create a completely new one yourself if you want.

With slide designs, accompanying charts, and an easy interface, PowerPoint offers you the best value as a free tool.

To Wrap Up…

Hope you like our concise selection of productive tools that take your visual content game to another level. The only thing that you can do wrong when it comes to posting visual content is to not post any. To that end, try the tools we have shared here and make your social media visual content alive and strong.

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Market research nerd with a penchant for graphic design and branding. A digital marketer by profession; a creature of the web by compulsion.


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