Social Media Discovery
Blanket statements are BAD
I often do my best research and networking late at night. I get my ‘before bed’ cup of coffee, turn on the fan sitting next to my bed and grab my phone. While sipping that delicious nectar of the Gods I start infinite scrolling various social media feeds.
Just the other night I came across the Twitter profile of Jon-Stephen Stansel and was immediately intrigued. I noticed there was a pinned tweet sharing a few things for new followers to know and at the bottom of it was the line “Sometimes I hate on Canva”. This can’t be! I LOVE Canva!
My curiosity got the better of me. I replied to that pinned tweet, honestly not expecting any reply. I needed to know why he would hate on Canva. To my surprise he responded pretty quickly with a link to a blog post and to a podcast.
I immediately clicked the link to read the blog post to find out what I may have been missing all this time I’ve been in love with Canva. I should mention that after reading the blog post I did not listen to the podcast. I don’t know why but, pod casts are not really my thing. I just can’t get into them, try as I might.
Let me be very clear here. I have never met Mr. Stansel. Other than a tweet and reply we’ve never had any interaction. From my brief research reading his Twitter profile and tweets along with browsing his website I am of the opinion that he is a well educated, intelligent and succesful social media manager. His expertise seems to be in the higher education field of social media marketing, something I am NOT familiar with.
This rebuttal is also in no way meaning to bash, harm or discredit his thoughts and ideas.
Who Should NOT Use Canva
In his blog post, the overall theme seems targeted towards the use of Canva for higher eduction institutions. To that point, I do agree. If a college or university is using Canva they should stop. I have always thought that they would have some sort of marketing department that would include graphic designers or, at a minimum, they may even teach graphic design and can have the students provide image assets, no?
At the beginning of his blog post he includes an anecdote about adding a slide to a presentation he was giving and it said:
“CANVA ISN’T A REPLACEMENT FOR A GRAPHIC DESIGNER.”
This was met with a divisive reaction. Some cheered, some booed.
He goes on to say:
“Canva makes you a graphic designer the same way a microwave makes you a chef. Sure you can make a decent meal in minutes, but like a TV Dinner, it’s flavorless and bland. It homogenizes design. Everything designed on Canva looks like it was designed on Canva. Have you ever seen something that was created on Canva that made you sit up and say “wow?” The content is merely passable and mediocre at best. It’s hotel art, meant to look nice in the room and not offend anyone’s sensibilities…but not really stand out either.”
[The microwave analogy is entertaining but, owning a set of Chef’s knives doesn’t make you any more of a Chef either. Having a tool doesn’t make you a craftsmen. It’s the knowledge of using the tool that is the power. Canva is a tool. Used correctly, it can create beautiful designs, quickly and affordably.]
I have to disagree with this blanket statement; if the argument is that everyone using Canva simply takes a template, swaps out a photo and text and then publishes it.
I’m sure in some, maybe even many, cases that is what happens. In many more though, Canva is being used to create new, fresh designs as well.
Click To Enlarge
Now, it is clear his target is eductional institutions but, saying that Canva is only slightly better than Microsoft Publisher or that it is only useful for 6th grade presentations is quite a stretch even if it was said to be provacative.
He also mentions a pitfall of using Canva is that by using the provided templates your content could be lost in a sea of content that all looks the same. This is true.
Who SHOULD Use Canva?
A lot of people actually
So, we’ve dug in to some of the pitfalls and reasons why you should not consider using Canva for your graphic designs but, is there anyone that should or could be using Canva? Yes.
Canva is much more than just a graphic design tool. Mr. Stansel doesn’t go into any detail about Canva integrations, Brand Kits, Smart Resizing, Content Folders or Content Planners. These are just some of the things I can think of off the top of my head that Canva can do. I’m certain there is more. We’ll dig into some of these later on.
Small social media agencies cater to small businesses. Small businesses in the United States make up 99.9% of all businesses. That’s a pretty big chunk of the market. I know from my own experience running my small digital marketing agency, HD Marketing, that small business owners have ZERO graphic design knowledge and even less of an idea of how or what to post on social media.
They also tend to have small or non-exsistent budgets.
Small social media agencies often charge minimal fees for their service. Using a tool like Canva where the cost can be spread across many accounts makes it an ideal tool to use.
If you own a business that lends itself to creativity, like a photographer or artist then Canva may be for you. These types of people just think differently and can see the power and flexibility in the templates and layouts Canva provides as a starting base for great design.
Why Should You Use Canva?
It’s More Than A Graphic Design Tool
Canva has a lot of features that go well beyond graphic design. It not only let’s you create designs of all types but, it also integrates with a lot of other tools to help you get your designs noticed. Let’s take a look at some of those integrations, at least the ones I’ve used and use on almost a daily basis.
Canva can integrate with your Mailchimp account. This let’s you design email headers and images and import them directly into the newsletter you are working on.
There is no need to design in Canva then download the image (hoping it’s sized right) and re-uploading into your Mailchimp account. You can just share it directly into Mailchimp and the guesswork is gone.
There are many social media mangement tools out there but, I love Sendible. It too, has an integration with Canva that let’s you use Canva right inside their tool. You can actually create custom graphic designs right in Sendible, then schedule them to go out.
The integration also let’s you resize the image for the social media site it is going to be posted on without the need to re-create the design. Super time saving stuff here!
Easily manage multiple brands
Brand kits are a really easy but, powerful feature of Canva. It allows you to save different logos, brand colors and font styles to each brand. These brand kits are then available while you are designing a graphic and you can easily pick between the brand kits.
Keeping your designs ‘on brand’ has never been easier. Especially if you are managing many different brands as so many social media mangement agencies do.
The right size, every time
Canva has a smart resizing tool that can resize your design for any other social media platform. This means you can create a graphic for a Facebook post sized to the optimal size of 940×788 pixels and then resize it, perfectly for Twitter and Instagram.
This is done with presets. You don’t even have to know what size you need. You just click smart resize then something like “Twitter Post” or “Instagram Story” and Canva does the rest.
Schedule & Send Social Media Posts
The content planner is a basic implementation of scheduling social media posts but, it works. For an individual, or single small business Canva may be all you need to maintain the content on your social media profiles.
For agencies or larger businesses, I would strongly recommend a dedicated social media management tool like Sendible, Hootsuite or Buffer.
Let’s Wrap This Up
I intend to continue to follow Mr. Stansel on Twitter and follow his blog. I love seeing different points of view and learning from others as much as possible. While I agree, to a point, with his hating on Canva for higher education institutions, I see a much larger need and use case for Canva in a lot of other situations.
As if the integrations I mentioned were not enough, they offer a FREE plan and the first paid plan is only $10 bucks a month. That’s less than most people pay per month for streaming services. At that price, it’s a bargain that any small social media agency or business should be happy to pay for what you get in return.
(By the way, the blog cover and most of the other images in this post were made with Canva, could you tell?)
What are your thoughts or experiences with using Canva or any other online graphic design tool?
Read the lessons I’ve learned in digital marketing during COVID-19