If you want to succeed in social media content today, you’d better have multimedia game. That means being able to generate audio, video, and image content above and beyond simple re-sharing of images. I thought I’d share some of my favorite tools for boosting your game. In full disclosure, where and when I can get an affiliate link in, I will.

Before we dig in, read this piece I wrote over on the SHIFT blog about copyright infringement and what you can and can’t legally use of other peoples’ work. It will help prevent you being sued.

Photos and Images

Visual graphics require visual editing software. Once upon a time, Adobe Photoshop was a massive, expensive purchase. Today it’s a relatively cheap rental at $10/month, paired with Adobe Lightroom. I’d strongly suggest having this software handy. We’ll use this cup of coffee I took a picture of with my iPhone as the starting point for our multimedia tour:

IMG_3151

For the simple production of images with styled text over them, there are two pieces of software I’d recommend. The first is Over, a mobile app that lets you take a photo that you’ve taken and superimpose text on it. Available on iTunes and Google Play.

IMG_3152

If you’d prefer software with similar functionality on the desktop, look to Canva. Canva allows you to use your own images or properly licensed stock photo images and apply decorations of all kinds to them:

Canva

Want to do some screenshots? No better package exists for this than Evernote Skitch. You can take screenshots, annotate them, blur out text, highlight things, and then upload them, or copy and paste any imagery and do the same:

IMG_3151___Flickr_-_Photo_Sharing_

Feeling artistic? Got a boring, boring photo? Mobile apps like Waterlogue for iOS or Photo Painter for Android can turn boring photos into slightly less boring photos:

Painted in Waterlogue

Video

One of the easiest places to start with video is making screencasts, videos of a particular window on your desktop computer (or your entire screen), accompanied by narration. Many meeting software packages like GoToMeeting allow you to dial into a meeting and record your screen as the presenter, so if you work at a company that has GoToMeeting or equivalent, you’re probably already set up. You can also use dedicated screen casting software. One of the more interesting packages out there is the free, open-source Open Broadcaster Software, which lets you record and/or livestream to YouTube:

If you want to do collaborative screensharing, look no further than Google Hangouts on Air, part of Google+. This allows you to record video with one or more participants, share screens, and even do miniature talk shows:

One of my favorites for creating a slideshow video that’s very polished is the free Adobe Voice, part of Creative Cloud. Here’s the photos we just took, turned into a nice show:

Audio

If you want to share audio, hands-down the best platform is Soundcloud for hosting and sharing it. However, for making it, chances are you’ll want to use some audio editing software. My favorite is the old, reliable standby, Audacity. You record your audio, music, etc. into Audacity, then export and save to Soundcloud:

Wrapping Up

These content creation tools are the building blocks for creating great content. Try them out; many are free or very inexpensive, and you’ll immediately be appealing to your audience in new and different ways.


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