How To Quickly Make Shareable Startup Memes, Even If You Don’t Have Photoshop

Shareable social media is visual

Startup memes are among the most powerful tools entrepreneurs use to share practical wisdom. Startup memes are sticky, go viral easily, and have the potential establish thought leadership for the creators. “Nine women can’t make a baby in a month,” is my favorite adage about the virtues of patience. Startup Vitamins, Addicted2Success and others have grown profitable businesses by sharing startup memes that rocket through social media platforms like Tumblr, Facebook and Pinterest. David Fallarme from Growth Hero teaches us how you can easily create captivating startup memes — even without a lick of Photoshop knowledge — in today’s guest post. Put the power of images to work to grow your business!

Visual media is king. According to Hubspot, photo updates on Facebook get 53% more Likes than text updates. Buffer found that tweets with images received 150% more retweets.

The data speaks: if you’re just using text in your social media updates, you’re sorely missing out on a lot of traffic, engagement and viral reach.

In this hands-on tutorial, we’re going to learn how to quickly and easily create startup memes and shareable images that boost your social media efforts. The lesson for today — as with all startup marketing activities — is to focus on speed and efficiency. If you’ve got a graphics team that can make these images for you, awesome. If you’re the lone marketing person on your startup, remember that you don’t need to have something gorgeous to have an effect.

Perhaps my favorite example of simple images having a huge impact is Startup Quote. Lots of engagement for a tumblr blog that just slaps quotes on pictures of tech entrepreneurs!

Let’s dig in.

DIY: No Need for Photoshop

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Keynote or Powerpoint
  • A photo
  • A quote

The cool part of this is that it’s so easy to do: you can make a great-looking, shareable image that relates to your brand with just these three things.

With inspiration from Startup Quote, here’s our final product for today, featuring none other than Chikodi himself:


As you’ve seen from the success of Startup Quote, getting distribution isn’t dependent on super-snazzy, award-winning graphics. It just has to resonate with your audience.

Case in point, here’s the most-shared pic from Startup Quote:


If you have the resources to invest in making these look even better — awesome. If you’re on your own, focus instead on making these images a repeatable, ongoing, sustainable process. Once you see the results, you’ll be making a lot of them.

Hands on with Keynote and Powerpoint

Now, I’ll walk you through the steps I took to create the image above.

(If you’d like to copy my process step-by-step, that’s fine, the important thing to keep in mind is to create an image that is consistent with your brand.)

1. Find an image

If you’re doing PR at a startup, you should already have some pictures of the team and your product in your press kit. (If not, this is the perfect time to go do that)

Aside from stock photo sites, there are a multitude of free options out there as long as you are diligent about royalties and copyright issues. Stock.xchng and Flickr Creative Commons search are popular.

2. Place the image in a new presentation

Open your presentation software and create a blank presentation. Paste your image in a slide.

Double-click the image and you’ll get options that let you play around with the photo’s appearance.

Here’s what you can play with in Keynote. Note that there are more granular options in the “Images” tab:

Keynote image tweaks

Here’s what Powerpoint users will see:

Powerpoint image functions

If it’s your first time, you’ll want to play around with all the settings to see what kind of effects you can achieve. Like Instagram, you can make a picture look radically different simply by making it black and white or by playing with the hue sliders.

3. Add a shape

Adding a shape on top of the image allows us to create a high-contrast area on the picture where we’ll place text. This is important so that the text is easily readable.

Otherwise we end up with something like this:

Hard to read text

It’s fine, and you can probably play around with the shadows and borders enough to make it readable, but again, we want to make shareable images as quickly as possible. If you have the time to obsess over details like the perfect angle of the drop shadow, fine. The important part is that it’s a sustainable effort.

For now, the simplest shape to use is a rectangle. As you get more comfortable, start playing around with other shapes. Here’s the shapes menu in Keynote, where you’ll find the rectangle shape among many others:


And in Powerpoint:


Just as the photo filters and settings, you may want to play around to find the right color. The default colors may not suit the image you’ve chosen.

 Also note the very useful Opacity and Transparency sliders in Keynote and Powerpoint, respectively.

 4. Add your text

Now, onto font choice: has your startup already established allowed typefaces for usage with its brand? If so, stick to those as much as possible to make sure all your media is consistent.

Otherwise, use these tried-and-true professional-looking, yet not cliche fonts. These fonts are usually preinstalled on every computer, so you won’t need hunt down font files:

  • Franklin Gothic Book
  • Helvetica Neue
  • Avenir (and its variant Avenir Black)
  • Georgia
  • Garamond

Unless you doing PR for Dogecoin, please avoid Comic Sans :)

The best thing to do here is to keep the text layout simple. If you’d like to get a bit more creative, make sure you are sticking to text layout best practices.

5. Take a screenshot of your creation

Check for spelling errors and any glaring alignment issues. Once you’re done, take a screenshot to save your image.

(Don’t bother trying to export the image from Keynote or Powerpoint, it’s several clicks and a few menus to do what a screenshot can do in a few seconds.) And here’s the result!



Your turn: show us what you made

Remember, it doesn’t have to be a CEO or a VP in the picture – think of all the ways you can use this:

  • Sharing customer testimonials
  • Quoting a relevant historical figure
  • A snippet from your latest board slides

Get creative and think of how you can use this to reinforce into your startup’s narrative.

So review your social media calendar and think about where you can add images. Where you have a text update, consider turning into an image as we have above. It’s worth the 5-10 minutes to create it, as it will significantly boost your content’s shareability.

Now: we’d love to see what you made! Post your creations on Twitter, mention @chikodi and @davelocity and we’ll retweet the best ones!

Featured image photo credit

Learn how your story can change the world

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. How To Quickly Make Shareable Social Media Imag... - February 25, 2014

    […]   […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: