How SumoMe uses Canva to seriously boost public engagement with their content [and how you can too]


You must have noticed by now. There’s a fascinating marketing trend that’s happening.

Top brands like Buzzfeed, Nike, and BBC are all starting to focus on creating minute-long time lapse videos (i.e. short form videos) that are promoted across several social media platforms.

Just look at the fastest growing Facebook pages and you’ll see a bunch of short form videos consisting of: cooking recipes, lifehacks, or some sort of “how-to” guide.

That’s because short form videos are a great way to:

  • Boost your website’s traffic and sales: 64% of consumers are more inclined to buy your product after watching a video. It’s how Specialized racked up 350,000 customers by promoting short videos on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
  • Drive engagement on multiple social platforms: It’s how Buzzfeed’s Tasty achieved 55 Million followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  • Effectively communicate to your audience: It’s how NowThisNews gets over 820 million monthly views by delivering news in a bite-sized format to a generation with short attention spans.

I’m willing to bet you’ve thought about trying online video marketing for your business. But maybe you haven’t tried it because you think it requires a huge marketing budget. And you’re probably unsure of how to apply short form videos into your content/social marketing strategy.

It’s not obvious, but with just Canva and iMovie, you can create your own videos in less than 10 minutes. It won’t have the same production value as the big brands, but it’ll be good enough to run marketing experiments to learn if short form videos are effective for your business.

Only if the marketing experiments are successful, should you begin to invest more resources to scale and improve the quality of the videos.


That’s why in this guide, I’ll be going over how you can use Canva to test one of the most effective and underutilized marketing channels — short form videos.


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01. An 80/20 Approach To Create Short Videos In 10 Minutes

At SumoMe, I used short form videos to promote our content articles on social media platforms to drive engagement and traffic. Since we publish content on a regular basis, I had to create a framework that would allow me to create short videos quickly.

The best way to do this is to create 4-6 slides that summarize the main points of the article, and then combine them into a video or GIF. To give you an idea of how it looks, here’s an example of one of the videos (there would also be music in the background):

To create it, I would first design a template which I can then copy/paste for each article. Here’s how I structured the template:

  • Frame #1: This will be the title of the article. I personally like to keep it simple with a relevant background image, and then overlay a transparent colour ontop of it. I would then use one of Canva’s text templates as the title.
  • Frame #2: This slide should address the problem or main benefits outlined in the article. It should be compelling enough to grab the attention by adding an image that would support your benefit claims (e.g. google analytics, before/after results)
  • Frames #3-6: Since there are 6 types of content, you want to summarize the main points into a few slides. If it’s a list post, include a few of the points with supporting images. If it’s an instructional point, summarize the main steps.
  • Frame #7: This is the last slide and you should end it with a call-to-action. If you’re including it into the introductory paragraph of your article, ask readers to continue reading. If you’re sharing it on Instagram, ask readers to click on the url in your profile. If you’re using Twitter or Facebook, ask them to click the link.

Once you have the framework complete, it’s just a matter of clicking “copy” and changing the content of each slide to fit the different articles. By doing so, I was able to efficiently design short form videos for different content articles.


Once you have a framework in place to design the slides in less than 10 minutes, it’s time to turn them into a video or GIF.

We’ve created three templates with ready-made frames for you to add your text and images in. Click on any of them to get started with the designs in Canva.


02. Bringing Life Into The Slides By Turning It Into A Video

Now there’s two ways to make your content stand out from your competitors. You can either use a GIF or a video.

If you’re creating a GIF, I recommend using GIFMaker. All you have to do is upload the images and it’ll automatically convert your images into a GIF you can use.

If you’re creating a video, I like to use iMovie, but any other video editing software will work. After you have the frames designed in Canva, you can download them all into a zip file. All you have to do is then import the individual images into your video editing software.


Few things to note if you’re using iMovie:

  • If you’re uploading to Instagram, use the speed editor to reduce the video to less than 15 seconds.
  • Double click on each frame to change the style from “Ken Burns” to “Fit”
  • Add upbeat/happy background music. You can find free royalty free music at BenSound

And that’s it! It’s that easy to convert the individual Canva frames into a GIF or video. Now that you know how to make short form videos, it’s just a matter of applying it to your specific business.

03. Boost Your Audience Engagement With Videos On Social Media

Short form videos are a great way to boost engagement on your social media platforms. You can use it for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or even Vine. By increasing the engagement on these promotion channels, you can drive more traffic to your website. Traffic you can then leverage to grow your email list, and eventually turn into paying customers.

For Instagram:

Here’s an example where we promoted an article with the same description, hashtags, and time. The only difference? One was just a photo and the other was a short form video.

The one with the image got 1 comment, and the one with the video received 12. Many of the comments asked us how we created the videos!


On Instagram, you’ll want the last frame to be a call-to-action to an article on your website. To do this, you’ll want to use a URL-shortener and also include the link into the description where viewers can just copy/paste the URL to visit your website.

For Twitter/Facebook/Google+/LinkedIn/Vine

The benefit with creating short form videos is that with just one video, you can re-publish it to multiple social media platforms.

Here’s a tweet we initially promoted on Twitter, and then also sent it out to all our other social media accounts on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and even Vine.


Unlike Instagram, you can include a link directly to your tweet or Facebook post to make it much easier for viewers to visit your website. You can then use the last frame of the video to entice your viewers to visit your website to receive a free content upgrade.

Here’s an example:


You can simulate this tactic with the social media templates we’ve prepared below.

Edit this design in Canva
Edit this design in Canva
Template 8
Edit this design in Canva

Once the viewers are on your website, you’ll want to begin building your email list so you can eventually convert them into paying customers.

The best way to do this is to create a page-specific popup that shows up immediately. For example, after our viewers clicked on the Tweet/post with our short video, it directed them to an article where they’ll see a Welcome Mat popup that looks like this:


Just by doing this, we managed to achieve email conversion rates around 15%!


But what if your viewers don’t convert immediately?

You’ll need to implement tactics to get those viewers reading more of your article so you’ll have another chance to convert them. Fortunately, you already did most of the work by creating the designs in Canva. All you have to do is convert it into a GIF instead of a video.

04. Get Your Readers To Finish Your Articles With GIFs

When we did an audit of our read rates on the SumoMe blog, we learned that on average, only 20% of readers finished our articles. This was a problem because it meant less visitors reaching our call-to-action buttons, and lower customer engagement.

Using the SumoMe Content Analytics tool, we realized that the majority of the reader drop-offs would happen between the introduction paragraph and the beginning of the body.

To fix this problem, we experimented with including GIFs in the introduction to summarize the key points of the article. This would quickly give the readers a 5-second teaser of what the article would be about.

The results? By including the GIF at the beginning, we improved our read-rate from 20 to 30%!

Here’s a screen-capture of what it looks like:


With the Content Analytics tool, you can see that the “color” remains constant yellow until the main body of the article. This means that most visitors are staying on the article and reading it. Compared to our other articles, this was a huge improvement!

But why is this important?

Because the longer a visitor stays on your website, the more engaged they become and the more likely they are to convert into a subscriber. Once you’ve communicated your message and gained your customer’s interest, all you have to do is create a strategically placed popup.

Click and edit the templates below to create your own article GIF.


For example, on my personal blog, the Content Analytics tool would tell me that half my viewers would leave my website after reading 32% of my article.


To collect their emails, I strategically placed a popup to show up before the visitors would leave (around 25-30% of the article).


Just by doing this, I had a email conversion rate of 6%!

These are emails that I wouldn’t have collected otherwise! I would now have another chance to communicate with them to turn them into engaged customers.

Ready to try out this promotion strategy? We’ve created two more sets of templates applying the principles of item number one, three, and four. Start implementing your own short video content and strategy with these:


Template 11


Template 14


Your Turn

Your competitors are constantly getting better at leveraging social media, and you don’t want to fall behind on the latest marketing trends that may have a huge impact on your business. That’s why short form videos could be an opportunity for your business to differentiate yourself from all your competitors.

Getting involved with online video marketing is no longer something that only big brands can afford. You just need to test it before you spend too much time and resources into creating short form videos. You first want to validate if it’s right for your specific business and marketing strategy.

That’s why you should use free and simple tools like Canva so you can easily create your own short form videos. Using just one video, you could share it on multiple social platforms and improve read rates by including GIFs into your blogs.