Canva 101 for the Social Media Account Manager

The Social Media Account Manager’s Arsenal: Canva (A Non-Designer’s 101 Guide)

by | Aug 29, 2016 | Social Media

As a social media account manager, I have a lot of tools at my disposal.

I organize all of my social media posts for Express Writers in Excel, which makes it easy to categorize and date all of my posts (not to mention, archive them. This is important to a packrat like me).

Google is my best friend (who can’t say that?) when it comes to research.

I even have a notebook that I take notes in for client work, whether it’s jotting down ideas for social media posts or thumbnails for graphics.


That brings me to my next point.

Social media isn’t simply words on a timeline, though it’s what I do best. The internet is a sensory, tactile place, and sometimes words just aren’t enough to grab your reader’s eye off the page of their quickly-scrolling dashboard.

social media account manager

Canva & a Non-Designer’s Perspective: Why It’s the Best Visual Tool for A Social Media Account Manager

If your business is having a special event, a sale, or perhaps there’s something new in stock, how do you grab your followers’ attention?

A quirky pun or a one-liner, definitely. But it’s still just words on a page.

First and foremost, I’ll come clean. I’ll admit it: I really suck at Photoshop. I majored in art in high school, did a year stunt at an art college, but only did fine art. At times I would use Photoshop to draw or do some very minor color correcting, but overall, I hated it. I sucked at it. It was never intuitive for me, and I’m impatient when it comes to ui/ux, especially when it comes to the creative process. I need to get it out of my head and onto paper/a computer ASAP or else it just feels… cluttered. You know what I mean, right? (…Right?)

So when it came to professional gigs where I HAD to produce some sort of graphic with my copy, Photoshop (don’t even get me started on Illustrator) had me scrambling to produce something eye-catching that didn’t take me 4 online tutorials and 5 hours of putzing around the application to complete.

That’s where Canva comes in.

How to Create Images (Pre-Sized for the Right Platforms) On Canva

Admittedly, I had never really heard of Canva until I started working for Express Writers. I’d heard some of my designer friends talking about it and figured it was something else that would be way over my head, but now I would have to use it. Canva was EW’s choice app for making images for their clients’ social media.

When I signed up for Canva (which involved my favorite 4-letter word: FREE), I knew right away that I was in a good place.


Check it out! There’s presets for sizing your different social media images. No more Googling “PLEASE GOOGLE WHAT SIZE IS PERFECT FOR INSTAGRAM?!” or keeping a list next to your computer.

Let’s say I want to make an Instagram post for my client. I just click INSTAGRAM POST (self-explanatory, right?) and…


BAM – there it is, in all its 1080px x 1080px glory.

Now you can see its defaulted to the LAYOUTS category, which kicks butt. Canva has a ton of free presets for eye-catching graphics that will draw the eye of your customers.

You can even tweak the presets to include your own personal touch, whether it’s adding your own stock imagery to the background or tweaking the font.

Canva has a ton of preloaded fonts at your disposal, from the stuffy kind to the rustic kind. Fonts can be rustic, right?


Want to really start from scratch? Head on down to the ELEMENTS tab. You can build your own image with grids and frames if you have an idea that the presets just won’t fulfill.

From there, add text, lines, images, and shapes. There’s even an option to append all of Canva’s free images that you simply drag and drop into your creation.

But not to worry – that UPLOAD tag is just for you to do just that with your images.

Can’t find an image that would work for your creation?

The search bar is great for looking through Canva’s entire catalogue, which includes some paid content. PAID is definitely not my favorite four letter word, but the images are only $1 each.

And the best part? Canva has filters for your images. Yes, you Instagram junkie – you can make your images more dynamic without the pressure of knowing how to use layers in Photoshop with Canva.

Drop saturation, up contrast, even use preset filters like “Retro” and “Epic” (I use this one often) to get the mood you want out of an image.


Here’s something quick that I put together for a client. The social media post itself was about their customer service reviews, with a link to the testimonials section of their site. Now, that text by itself might not get you to stop scrolling and click that link. But the image, with its warm colors and engaging text, as well as an active model in the stock photo, might draw your attention. It’s all about finding ways to attract attention to your client’s brand in a natural way.


Here’s my Canva homepage.

You can see some of the images I’ve created here and how diverse they are. I’ve managed to capture the mood of each client without spending a ton of time trying to create the perfect image.

I can do a Canva image in ten minutes and devote the rest of my time to doing more research for the client, or brainstorming more copy for their social media.


IF YOU REALLY NEED A STARTING POINT, I highly recommend these tutorials:

They’ll give you some great tips for using Canva (though it really is very user-friendly) and greatly touches upon one of the most important things to remember about creating images:


If you load your image with too much text, shapes, lines, and frames, it’s a turn-off for the customer’s brain. The simpler an image is the more professional it looks. It shows that you’ve put real thought into building your image instead of throwing elements onto the canvas willy-nilly.

Got any tips of your own? Please feel free to let me know in the comments!

Follow Krystal on Twitter.

For awesome social media management, including custom image creation & original social media posts, head on over to our social media services in the Content Shop! Want Krystal on your projects? Let us know in the input forms!

We're hiring writers and editors!Apply Now