Social Media Images with Canva

One of my favorite tools for social media images is Canva. Although I’m a regular user of the Adobe Creative Suite, Canva is my go-to for quick and easy social media images.

You can use Canva free of charge, although they do offer a Pro plan that offers some great features.

Content you post online will get more clicks when you include images — social media images result in 94 percent more views. If you want your posts to stand out online, create appealing and eye-catching branded graphics. According to Quick Sprout, 63 percent of social media is images.

We naturally take in and process visual content faster than text-based content; the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

That doesn’t mean you need to add social media images just for the sake of adding an image. Use images that complement and emphasize your content and text.

Social media images must be formatted and sized appropriately for the particular network so that they appear as designed in the feed. If there is text on the image, be sure it shows as it will be viewed on a mobile phone, tablet, and desktop computer.

Canva makes it easier than ever to create custom images to use online. You don’t have to be a graphic designer or have a large stock photo library. You don’t even have to know the right size in pixels — Canva provides the right sizes for each social network.

How to Choose the Right Social Media Images

As you create social media images, consider your existing branding. Use fonts that fit with your brand and consider your colors. Canva has a place to add your brand colors so you always have them close at hand.

Your images don’t have to be literal in their relation to the copy; they just have to give an impression or hint at a concept. Don’t get overly carried away with finding just the right image or you’ll waste time. Canva has both free stock photos you can use and paid images.

Think creatively when you build your social media images — how can you amplify and emphasize the point of your copy and draw eyes? The best social media images are:

  • Consistent with your brand in content and color
  • High quality
  • As unique as possible; the more you can customize, the better
  • Allow space to add text so that it is readable
  • Legal for your intended use (you don’t have to worry about this with Canva)

How to Use Canva to Create Custom Social Media Images

If you don’t already have an account, create one at Canva.com. Under your name and profile photo, you’ll see a button that says Create a Design. Click here and choose the type of image from the dropdown.

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I chose Instagram Post. This will give me an instagram-sized square image that I can add my graphics to. I can either upload my own photo and size and crop it appropriately or use one of Canva’s.

make social media images with canva

Let’s say I’m doing a Happy Birthday post on Instagram and I’m planning to tag a friend. This one is marked free, so I’ll choose it.

social media images

I can change the decorations to my brand colors.
I can edit the text.

create social media images

And change the background to another of my brand colors.

You can see how, starting with an existing design or creating your own from scratch, you can modify it for what you need. You can customize fonts, colors, text, images and graphic elements.

One thing I’ll do if I need to create multiple images is just add pages until I have as many as I need.

best social media graphics

For Page 2, I’ll use an image (another free one) as a background and add my text over it. I’ll choose a square shape for the text. Now I’ll align my white box so it’s perfectly centered and set the transparency of the box to 65 percent so the image shows through just a little.

how to create social media images

I can either add text via one of the fun text combinations, or add my own headings and subheadings in my chosen fonts.

make social media images

There is also a place to upload your own photos. I’ve uploaded my logo, which I can drop into any image for branding.

social media images

When I’m finished, all i have to do is click the Download button at the top right and select which pages I want to download. Select .png file format. Each page will download as a separate .png file you can then add to Instagram and it’s sized perfectly.


If there’s anything more engaging than static social media images, it’s video. Canva has some cool video features as well. After you click Create Design select Video. Then YouTube Video.

Choose your video footage just like you did the image — be sure you check to see if it’s a premium clip or you’ll end up paying unexpectedly. Then lay text over it as you did the image. Canva will show you a preview of your video, with a watermark if you’ve included a paid image. You’ll have to pay for that image before you can download it without the watermark.

Apps and Integrations

On the left menu, click More then select Apps and Integrations. Here you’ll find emojis, GIFs, QR codes, links to Pexels and Pixabay (free stock photo sites) and other integrations. Connect your Facebook account and Canva will pull in photos from your timeline. You can also connect your Instagram account and use it in much the same way.

use emoji with canva

Connect YouTube and you can do a search or drop in a video from your channel.

use video in Canva

You can use Canva to present your video or slide show much like you would PowerPoint, Keynote or other presentation software.

use Canva for presentation

Have Fun with Social Media Images

Making your own images can save you money, help you customize and personalize your social media presence, and it’s just fun. Your skills, abilities, and unique selling proposition set you apart from your competition and your images will either enhance or detract from the impression you make online.

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