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A recent report by Social Media Examiner discovered that 74% of marketers use visual assets in social media marketing, 68% use them for blogging purposes and 60% for video marketing. Time-strapped marketers are consistently being asked to find and edit compelling imagery that is relevant to their brand’s consumers, whilst fitting their brand’s image.

image editingPhotography now plays a vital role in a brand’s messaging, so it comes as no surprise that 71% of marketers plan to increase their use of visuals throughout this year. For these marketers, a simple, intuitive photo editing tool is a must. But, according to Social Media Examiner’s report, a surprising 86% of marketers don’t know which tools are best suited for their needs.

Complex image editing tools are often an unwanted expense and too advanced for the average marketer’s needs, while most in-built image editors are relatively limited in functionality and not always compatible with images downloaded from the web.

Some effective alternatives that are better suited to meet the needs of today’s social media and content marketers include Shutterstock Editor, Pixlr and GIMP. All of which are free and make creating engaging content simple by offering functionality like crop presets, filters and text.

With Shutterstock Editor you can crop high-quality licensed photos from its collection of over 90 million images using preset sizes for social media, email, and presentations, or customize your own. To make images feel more seasonal (and more relevant), you can use filters such as “Carbon” to achieve a colder black-and-white look for winter, or “Copper” to get a warmer, summery hue. Adding shapes also helps to highlight particular areas of an image and make text stand out.

Another alternative worth trying is Pixlr, which is a popular online image editor that allows you to modify your own photos and also includes pre-set filters as well as more than 600 effects, overlays, cropping and re-sizing functionalities. Pixlr also has the ability to remove red-eye and whiten teeth.

There are no additional subscription fees or necessary training for Shutterstock Editor and Pixlr. Whilst Pixlr is useful for editing images you have found online, using Shutterstock Editor affords you the advantage of not having to leave your Shutterstock workspace as the workflow takes you fluidly from choosing your image to editing to posting it online without the need for additional software or conversion tools.

GIMP is another image editing tool that is similar to Photoshop in many ways. GIMP is much more technical and offers additional features above and beyond the capabilities of the other two options. For those that require a more advanced level of image editing for their visual marketing efforts, and don’t want to splash out on a Photoshop subscription, GIMP might be worth a shot.

The influx of visual marketing and the fact that marketers are now used to editing images on their smartphones has led to a high demand for free online image editing tools. The tools we have suggested are examples that allow marketers to quickly edit images to support their campaigns by better engaging and impacting their brand’s audiences. It is worth playing around with each of them so that you find one that works for you – your images will thank you for it.

By Catherine Ulrich, CPO at Shutterstock