According to numerous analyses, images do better on social networks. They’re more likely to be clicked, more likely to be shared, and sometimes, they’re even more likely to be seen. Social networks such as Facebook and Google+ generate nice thumbnails for you when sharing links, but these are not as impressive as actual images. Other networks, such as Twitter, don’t make your life this easy, and don’t show an image at all unless you add one specifically.
And yet, most of us can’t (or won’t) conjure images out of thin air every time we want to share a link. It’s either too hard, or just goes beyond what we’re willing to do for a simple update. But what if this were easy? Like, really easy?
Introducing: Share As Image
When adding an image to your update, you’re faced with two main issues: you need the image to be relevant, and you want to create it quickly. Share As Image solves both of these with its free version, and does an even better job with its paid one ($8/month), if you’re willing to go the distance.
Share As Image is not a new service. In fact, you may have heard of it back when it was still called Pin A Quote. I previously mentioned Pin A Quote in an article about Pinterest tools, and indeed, back then that’s all it was. But with the change of name came a big change in its usage as well.
Share As Image lets you easily turn text to image, or add text to images you already own, thus making them relevant to your update. It also provides some free filters, patterns, and photos you can use, but the selection is pretty limited.
Things are not as limited when it comes to the text itself, though. Once you have your text, Share As Image lets you choose from 30 different fonts, with good control over text size and color. Each photo can have several text fields, and you can control these separately — meaning, each one has its own font, size, color, etc.
The text is the main event here, and whether you choose to have a plain background, a patterned background, or a photo, it’s the text you’re actually sharing. If you do choose to go with a photo, and don’t like the measly selection offered by the free version, it’s easy to upload your own from your computer, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, or from a link. You can also search for images from this same dialogue, but unfortunately, there’s no way to view only Creative Commons images.
But how do you go about getting text for images?
Highlight Your Text, Get An Image
The most obvious way to get text is to type it in, of course. When using the Share As Image web app, you can simply type in the text you want to share on the left, and watch it appear in the image on the right. It’s then a matter of dragging it around the image and finishing your design. But there’s an even easier way to do this.
Share As Image offers a bookmarklet that works from any website you visit. Say you’re reading an interesting article, and want to share a quote. Or you’ve just published a new post to your blog and want to share it with the world in an original way. This is where the bookmarklet comes in.
On any website, highlight the text you want to share, and click the Share As Image bookmarklet. This will open the Share As Image web app with your highlighted text already inside. Now all you have to do is finish the design.
It’s not all perfect in Share As Image’s land. While I have no complaints about the creation process, I did hit some snags when I actually tried to share my image.
The whole point of Share As Image is to have beautiful images to share on social networks. These updates should preferably be image updates, which are the most popular and eye-catching ones. Unfortunately, when you share through the share buttons on Share As Image, you’re actually sharing a link to a page, not the image itself. So the update will appear as a link with a thumbnail (or just a link, if you’re sharing on Twitter), and not as an image.
You can bypass this by downloading the image, but if you’re on the free version, all the “Download image” button is going to do is pop the upgrade prompt at you. You can, however, go to the image page, right-click the image and download it from there. Which brings us to the second disappointment: the image size.
This is it. All images created using Share As Image are resized to 465×360 max (mine was resized to 465×310, perhaps due to its original aspect ratio), no matter how big your original was. While the team is working on adding more sizes, this is all you’re going to get for now. With Facebook’s recommended image size being 1200×630 and with most computer screens supporting impressive resolutions, 465×360 is just way too small. Yes, these are still preferable to plain text or links, but it could have been so much better.
Free vs. Pro
So we’ve established that the free version is almost awesome, but what about the paid one? If you’re an avid image sharer or manage social networks for a business, it could be worth your while. So what do you get for $8/month?
To start, the measly selection of free filters, photos and patterns gets a little less measly. It’s still not huge, but the team does seem to be adding more of these every week, so the collection is growing. Next, you get to use the official download button to download your image, as well as set a custom URL for it which will point wherever you want it to point. The images you create will still be only 465×360 in size.
You can also remove the Share As Image watermark, and even add one of your own instead. The Pro version also lets you save and manage your images online, while the free version makes them disappear after closing the editor.
All in all, the Pro version does seem really promising, providing you want and can spend $8/month on it (or $6/month if you go for an entire year).
You do have to give it to Share As Image. The service is so good, and the free version is limited just so, that you almost can’t help trying the paid one if you often need to share images. A full-featured trial version would have been great, to make sure you can actually make use of the offered features, but you can always try it for one month and cancel if you don’t like it.
Do you think sharing images is important? Any other services you would like to recommend? Tell us the comments.
Image Credit: Sergio Alvarez