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How to Use Canva to Create Beautiful Graphics for Social Media

Recently, I found myself needing a custom graphic for a blog post. Under a tight deadline, I headed straight to the suite of Canva design toolsCanva makes graphic design amazingly simple for everyone – non-designers as well as professionals. You can find quite a few images sprinkled throughout our blog and social media posts made by us using Canva.

Typically, we don’t dedicate an entire post to one tool or app, but Canva is worth it. For the record, I’m not affiliated in any way with Canva. Although I had the pleasure of meeting Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist of Canva and Trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation this past March at the 2016 SXSWEdu Conference Launch Competition Lightning Round. He was the emcee – smart and entertaining and sure knew how to make the presenting entrepreneurs feel relaxed!

Back to why we like Canva.

Canva is a start-to-finish design program perfect for non-designers. With Canva’s FREE graphic design tools, you can create content quickly and easily, even if you have little to no graphic design skills.

Why We Like Canva

Let me recap:

Little to no design skills needed

Easily create stunning graphics for social media

Everything you need for an amazing design at your fingertips

It’s FREE

How to Use Canva Design Tools for Business

It turns out you don’t need a graphic designer to make striking, memorable social media images. You can use Canva’s social media design templates for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube Channel Art and many more places. You can also access 100’s of layouts with over a million images, allowing you to create stunning graphics in just minutes!

Here’s an example of the 5-minute process:

Looking for proof that you can create a stunning graphic in five minutes or less? Here are nine examples using Canva design tools for all your social media needs:

1 – Social Media Posts (Quotes and Inspiration)

Make a striking image for a memorable quote. This tip comes from the Local Marketing Institute: Find a quote or quote yourself. Maybe it’s a memorable quote from your last blog entry. Or maybe…

Make a memorable social media post by designing the quote on a background or a photo. It’s easy and fun, and it shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes.

Quotes are a great way for people to get to know you on social media.

2 – Facebook Cover Photos

People have a better experience viewing your Facebook timeline when they see a Facebook cover photo that is as unique, creative and individualized as you are.

For a quick tutorial, follow these easy steps on How to Create a Facebook Cover Using Canva from wikiHow.

***Remember that you want your Facebook cover photo to look good on both desktop AND mobile.

Follow this cheat sheet for the optimal Facebook cover photo size:

Pro Tip: If you know the exact dimensions of the image you want, create a custom size before clicking into any of the Canva templates.

For more inspiration, check out these 50 Creative Facebook Covers to Inspire You

3 – Facebook Posts

Using Canva design tools, a quick Facebook post is super simple.

Step 1: Choose the Facebook Post template. The default template size is 940 x 788 which according to the chart above, is perfect.

Step 2: Choose a ‘Layout’ that suits your Facebook status update.

This image below took me all of 5 minutes to create – seriously! And, it’s a photo that will stand out in my Facebook news feed.

Step 3: Click ‘Publish” in Canva and download as a JPEG. In Facebook, ‘Update Status’, upload your photo, and add a comment.

The best part is, this type of update drives engagement quick! Thanks to my husband, here’s a response I got in the first few minutes of posting 🙂

4 – Facebook Apps and Ads

For the perfect Facebook App, choose a layout that works best for you, or design your own.

To find the Facebook Ad template, scroll down to the very last section – Ads and select Facebook Ad. The default size is 1200 x 628.

Note that if you’re advertising on social media, you need a great image to capture your target audience’s attention. You can choose from several Canva ad templates for social media and standard display banner ads – all IAB standard sizes: Wide Skyscraper, Medium Rectangle, Leaderboard and Large Rectangle.

For a detailed tutorial on Facebook Ads using Canva: Follow AdEspresso’s post How to Create Stunning Facebook Ad Images.

For inspiration: Took a look at AdEspresso’s Facebook Ads Gallery.

5 – Twitter Headers

Show off your brand. Create a custom branded Twitter header image. Creating the perfect custom header image is a bit more complex than it appears – it’s still easy to do, but you need to keep a few things in mind. To master this, read 9 Easy Strategies Guaranteed to Grow Twitter Followers and How to Design the Perfect Twitter Header Image.

Tip: The recommended dimensions for header image is 1500×500 pixels.

For Inspiration: To give you a better sense of what Twitter headers look like when done right, HubSpot put together a list of some of the best examples from companies around the world: 20 Brilliant Twitter Cover Photo Examples From Real Brands.

6 – Instagram Posts

You can use Canva to create stylized text photos and text overlays for Instagram. At first, it may seem daunting, but once you click the “Design an Instagram Post” option and choose your layout, it’s smooth sailing. The recommended size for an Instagram post is square: 1080 x 1080.

Here’s an example I did in just two minutes playing around with a photo of my husband promoting his next art exhibition on Instagram (first shown in our post on 7 FREE Instagram Tools That Will Make Social Media Easy).

7 – Pinterest Graphics and Infographics

What is the value of a good infographic?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s an infographic worth? When done well, they can be incredibly effective in conveying complex information in an easily digestible format.

As part of your overall social media marketing strategy, using infographics permits you to reach people unaccustomed to the technical lingo or common knowledge associated with your particular industry

An infographic makes complex information eye-catching, shareable and easily digestible. Most importantly, they play a crucial role in the increasingly visual world of marketing.

For Inspiration: Check out these infographics designed with Canva on the Pinterest page Ways to Use Canva.

For tips on using Canva’s infographic templates read: How To Create Your Own Infograph

8 – Google+ Cover

The design of your cover image is entirely up to you, but with the flexibility comes a huge amount of choice, which can become quite overwhelming.

Canva helps you make an amazing first impression when important people in your industry check out your profile on Google Plus. Use our incredibly simple design tool to create a professional Google Plus cover that will make your profile stand out among the best!

Pro Tip: The ideal Google+ cover photo image size is: 1240 x 700

For more pro tips read: Design The Perfect Google+ Banner Image With Tips And Examples From A Designer

9 – YouTube Channel Art

If your YouTube fans are engaging with your awesome video content on a regular basis, it’s important to keep your YouTube Channel art looking fresh.

For a full 9-minute tutorial on using Canva design tools for your YouTube Channel Art, listen to Andy Slye’s How to Make YouTube Channel Art – 2016 Tutorial. The image in the example below is Sly’s actual YouTube page made using Canva design tools.

Bonus Tips Using Canva

Bonus #1: Create Consistent Cover Photos From One Template

Now that you know how to create great designs using predesigned templates using Canva, your business needs to make a good first impression with consistent cover photos, header images, and channel art for your top social networks.

From Social Media Examiner, ask yourself:

According to size, a YouTube channel art image created the right way could effectively be cropped to fit all of your other properties. Or, for that matter, any Canva template that is larger than 2560 x 1440 would do.

This mega post on How to Easily Create Quality Social Media Images offers great advice on using Canva. Scroll to #3 to read more on creating consistent cover photos from one template – ultimately saving you lots of time.

Bonus #2: Promote Your content With Short Form Videos Using Canva

Follow Wilson Hung’s post on “How SumoMe uses Canva to seriously boost public engagement with their content [and how you can too].”

With just Canva and iMovie, you can create your own videos in less than 10 minutes. It won’t have the same production value as the big brands, but it’ll be good enough to run marketing experiments to learn if short form videos are effective for your business.

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What do you think?

What other ways do you use Canva for your social media marketing?

Please share your favorite tips, tricks, and uses in the comments below!