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Creating ads in a fast-paced environment can be challenging, especially if your creative team is bogged down with other projects or if you simply don’t have an internal creative team. If you don’t happen to have Photoshop skills yourself, you might be stuck surfing stock photo sites for your imagery, seeing the same pictures over and over again.
This is probably especially true for B2B brands that offer services or intangible products – there’s no internal repository of product images for them to use. They’re stuck trying to convey ideas and value through photos that serve a symbolic purpose. Does your brand offer an enterprise technology solution? Have you used a stock image of people standing around a computer or in a server room? If it sounds familiar and you want to break out of your creative rut, there are some promising solutions.
There are a number of mobile app solutions today that you can use to create content that is visually appealing without being time-intensive. Today, I’m going to run through a few ways to use stock photos to help keep your content engine running. I will primarily be talking about using these tips in regards to social media ads and organic posts, but they can be applied to any marketing channel that requires creative.
Cropping and Coloring
Found a stock image you’d like to use, but you’re seeing other brands (and even competitors) using it as well? Try cropping them to get a different perspective and stick out of the crowd.
You can also mess with the coloring (you can do this through Preview on a Mac or through Microsoft Word or Powerpoint on a PC, no Photoshop needed!). Maybe change the entire tone of the image to one of your brand colors! Simple changes like this keep your ads from looking exactly like all the rest.
Working on a mobile device? There are a million apps for that – like Adobe Photoshop Express (yes, that Photoshop, but a limited, free version) – that allow you to create collage effects, add text, straighten or crop images, etc. Apple Store | Google Play Store
PicsArt Photo Editor & Collage (free, with in-app purchases) is another option; it offers not only color correction and touch-up but also a ton of additional effects like stickers and filters. Apple Store | Google Play Store
Adding movement to stock images to turn them into videos or gifs can really up your ad game. Motion catches the eye and will help you garner more attention when someone is scrolling through their feed. If you have a long brand video, you can also use tools to cut it down to different lengths to try out various versions in your ads.
Gifs can be made in Adobe Photoshop, but if you haven’t got that in your skill base, then try out some mobile app solutions:
ImgPlay (free, with in-app purchases) is a gif maker that allows you to make gifs from videos, photos, iOS live photos, and burst photos. You can also add filters and animated text. Apple Store | Google Play Store
GIF X (free, with in-app purchases) is a slightly different tool that allows you to add gif effects to your existing photos or videos, rather than converting your photos/videos themselves into a gif. Apple Store
Microsoft Word, Mac’s Preview tool, and others can help you add basic text to photos, but there are also several app solutions if you want to add text that is a bit more visually inviting. Note that some platforms have text-to-image ratio requirements (Facebook only allows 20% of an image to be text, for example) so be cognizant of the guidelines of the platforms you’re advertising on.
Wordswag is a mobile app ($4.99 on iOS, $3.99 on Android, with additional in-app purchase options) that allows you to do custom text layouts. According to Wordswag, it’s like having a graphic designer in your pocket. Apple Store | Google Play Store
Typorama (free, with in-app purchase options) is another solution that not only has 100+ different fonts and typefaces but also artistic ornaments like badges or ribbons to add some extra zing to your photos. You can also search for stock images to use directly within the app! Apple Store
There are a ton of additional apps in the market that do the same or similar things, so explore and find one that you’re comfortable with! Many apps are low-cost or free and allow for one-click transfer to your social media account. With free apps, be prepared for pop-up in-app ads, but if they don’t bother you, then you can create tons of inventive content at no cost, using stock photos and your own ingenuity. If you’d rather not use your phone to create your images (I get it, it’s a small screen!), then keep exploring the basic tools that come with your desktop. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish with screenshots and the Microsoft suite.