How to use Canva for social media graphics

Unless you’re a professional designer using tools like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, you need an easy, cost-effective way to create eye-catching graphics for your social media posts. Enter Canva.

What is Canva?

Canva is a free online graphic design tool for non-designers. It comes with pre-built and pre-populated templates for Facebook posts, Instagram squares, Twitter banners and much more. You can import your own icons and photos, or customise some from Canva’s library.

Let’s take a closer look at how to use Canva for social media graphics. 

Getting started

We’ll concentrate on the free version of Canva – although it’s worth noting that you can upgrade to a paid Canva Pro account if you need more functionality. (More on this later!)

Using either your computer (and accessing www.Canva.com in your web browser), or mobile phone or tablet (having downloaded the free Canva app), the first step is to create a free account and log in to Canva. You’ll arrive at the dashboard, which helpfully lays out all the social media templates you can use for your designs. You can choose to design from scratch, if you prefer, but by far the easiest route for non-designers is to browse Canva’s extensive template library, and choose a suitable design with the correct dimensions that you can customise.

Customising your Canva template

Once you’ve chosen your template, it’s time to make it your own. You can change just about every part of your graphic within Canva:

  1. Background: You can change the background of your design by selecting a new colour, pattern, or image. You can either upload your own images or select from Canva’s extensive library of stock photos and graphics. Many of these are free, but If you see a small crown symbol on the image, it means you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription.

  2. Text: Canva allows you to add text to your design and customise it with different fonts, sizes, colours, and styles. You can also add text effects like shadows, outlines, and gradients.

    If you’re not sure what to say, try using Magic Write, Canva’s ChatGPT competitor, available through Canva Docs. Feed it a prompt and see what it suggests!

  3. Images: You can insert images into your design by uploading your own or selecting from Canva’s library of stock photos and graphics. You can also edit these images within Canva by adjusting their size, shape, and opacity, or by applying filters and effects.  A great tip is to use one of Canva’s “Frames” (found within Elements), then drag your chosen image into the frame, to achieve some funky shapes!

    If you’re stuck for inspiration, try using Canva’s new AI-powered Text to Image app:  just write what you want to see and it will generate an image for you! 

  4. Elements: These are symbols such as icons, shapes, lines, and charts. Just like text, you can change their colour, size and position within the design. If you’re looking to create infographics, or visually represent survey data etc, some of these features are excellent.

Tip: For a consistent look across all of your social media graphics, make sure you apply your brand colours and/or logo to your designs. 

Once you have customised your design, you can preview it to see how it will look when posted on social media. You can then adjust as needed before downloading it, and publishing it to your social platform of choice.

Should I upgrade to Canva Pro?

If you subscribe to Canva Pro, you can access a larger selection of templates, and use Canva’s premium images and graphics.

Canva Pro comes with some other potentially handy features, including:

  • Brand Kit: specify your own palette of brand colours that you can easily apply to all of your designs
  • Magic Resizer: create one post and quickly automatically resize it for different channels
  • Social Media Scheduler: publish your content straight from Canva at a time to suit you with its built in scheduler

Subscribers to Canva Pro also enjoy greater access to Magic Write: they can issue 75 prompts per month instead of 25.

Canva is a fantastic tool for small businesses that need a straightforward, low-cost (free for many!) way to create professional-looking social media graphics. The interface is easy-to-use and there are literally millions of images and elements that you can use with the vast range of pre-built templates. Its two AI tools (Magic Write and Text to Image) are new and still evolving, but they demonstrate how innovative the platform continues to be.

Interested in learning more about designing your own graphics with Canva? The NSDesign team regularly run Canva training webinars through many of the local Business Gateway regions, or get in touch to discuss a bespoke Canva session tailored to your own needs.

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