I do a lot of graphic design for one of the magazines I work for—and I love my Adobe software—but with time speeding by like Dominic Toretto in a scene from The Fast and the Furious, I don’t always have time to create graphics from scratch, especially for social media. With that in mind, I've found not much beats Canva for quick designs that look slick too.
What is Canva and How Can it Help Me with My Social Posts?
Canva is an online design platform that lets you create appealing designs with about as much effort as it takes to schedule a Facebook post. And with nearly 7,000 professionally designed social templates and a slew of free and paid images ($1 each) to choose from, you won’t be getting bored anytime soon. Just search for a template that fits your theme or genre and take it from there. Canva even has pre-made quote templates you can use just as they are if it tickles your fancy. You can design much more than social media graphics, of course, but this post is all about Canva's social prowess!
How I Use Canva
When I want to promote a blog post, I choose a social platform on Canva and start browsing the templates for it. Once I find something that catches my eye, I upload a photo from my post and replace the template photo with mine. Then I add the title of my post (and any additional information if needed) and adjust the font size, font, colors, and positioning of each element to suit my tastes.
For things like quotes, I search for a picture that fits the theme of the quote (or whatever the social post is about) and follow the same steps above. Like I mentioned earlier, you can use Canva templates verbatim, but with a few tweaks, you can make the design your own, which will help your post stand out. As a bonus, you can also make social page headers.
Share, Share, Share
Another great reason to use Canva for Social Media is that you can link your Twitter, Instagram (mobile version only), Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts—including managed pages—and share your designs directly from Canva. I've found this to be a very useful feature. All you need to do is link your social accounts, give Canva permission to post on your behalf, and you're good to go. You also have the option of adding a comment about what you're posting before you share.
Mobile App for on the Go
Most of my Canva work is done on my desktop, but, Canva does offer an app that I like to use when I'm on the go. It works pretty well, but it isn't as nice as working with the browser-based version.
Tip: I like to create several Canva images at once, so I can have them done and ready to rock for social posts. This way, I can stay active on my social media pages without having to create something every day.
Do You Believe in Magic?
Another convenient feature of Canva is magic resize. With magic resize, Canva will adjust your layout to fit a new document size automatically. This is super cool and saves time. However, if you're resizing a Twitter post to an Instagram or Pinterest post, you'll have to make a few adjustments because the sizes are so different. From Facebook to Instagram, though, minimal, if any changes will be needed.
Unfortunately, this feature is not available for free users. If you want a little magic in your life, you'll have to upgrade to Canva for Work. They do offer a free trial that allows you to test-drive all the paid features, which is worth doing to see if Canva for Work is right for you.
The Glitchy Side of Canva
As great as Canva is, it’s not perfect. Occasionally, the program does something weird to your designs when you're sharing directly to social media sites from the Canva mobile app. In my experience, only the text seems to be affected. Luckily, this doesn't happen all the time, but I'd be remiss not to mention it. Why or how this happens is beyond me; hopefully this bug will be fixed in a future update.
Below is an example of a Twitter post gone wrong so you can see what I mean. I would have deleted and re-posted it, but it had already been retweeted and liked as soon as I shared it, so I just left it alone. Not the end of the world, but as you see, the shared design was not the same as how I had designed it in Canva.
File Saving Limitations
Canva allows you to download files as jpg, png, pdf, and gif (an experimental animated feature). I haven't tried the gif feature yet, but I can't wait! While Canva allows and even recommends png downloads, if you aren't a paid subscriber, you can't export your png file with a transparent background.
Luckily, for most social media posts, a transparent design isn't necessary. But if you wanted to make a logo that needs a transparent background for your blog or website, for instance, you're out of luck unless you "cough it up."
How Much is Canva?
Canva offers three pricing models, but only two really matter for most people: Free Forever and Canva for Work. The Free Forever feature offers users up to two folders to categorize their designs and provides 1GB of storage.
Canva for Work, priced at $12.95 per month, offers unlimited folders, unlimited storage, magic resize, the ability to upload custom fonts and color palettes, and the option to save your own templates. Paid members also get to use premium Canva images for free, which makes the paid version an even better value.
Whether you're a beginner at design or a seasoned professional, you'll find that Canva rocks for making social media designs. With all the templates and images to choose from, the sharing features, and magic resize (if you choose to pay for premium), you'll be cranking out rockin' designs left and right—and without much effort at all!