By now, everyone should be aware of how effective graphics and images are at encouraging engagement with customers and followers. Since they are assimilated much more easily than reading text, images have great appeal to Internet users in general, and social media users in particular. But what if the great image you’ve selected loses much of its effectiveness, because it isn’t being presented in quite the right way to readers?
This is very possible, and it’s a classic case of losing a lot in translation when a really good image is simply not presented to the best advantage on a social media platform. The elements that have the most influence on how an image is seen online are its width, height, and orientation, and if you can manage these effectively, you can ensure that all your great images look just as great when they’re seen by social media users. For each of the six major social media platforms, here’s how you can do that.
General info on image sizes
The ideal image size for any given image will vary depending on which platform it’s targeted for and where it will be placed on that platform’s site, for instance a cover photo, an ad-style image, or profile picture. Recognizing the need for advantageous image representation, most of the major social media platforms now provide you with some kind of tool that allows you to scale or re-size your images until they’re just the way you want them.
The discussion below will focus on sizing those social media images that are shared as part of an update, either via a link or by an image attachment. Marketing and advertising managers tend to focus on the level of engagement associated with their social media activity, often quantifying likes, clicks, re-tweets, and re-pins.
However, there’s another very powerful metric which should be included along with these engagement components, because studies have shown that tweets with images get at least 150% more re-tweets than those which lack images. From this it can be seen that it’s not only important to include images with your social media postings, but that those images are presented in the absolute best way possible.
The first thing to know about Facebook post images is that the dimensions which Facebook uses in the presentation of your image will depend on whether it’s oriented vertically, horizontally, or in a perfect square. If you do upload a square image, you can count on it being displayed in a 476-pixel square, regardless of its original size.
This probably won’t have much impact on a picture that begins larger than 476 pixels, but if you upload one that is smaller, it is likely to appear blurry on your page. A horizontal image (landscape orientation) will be presented as a 476-pixel image in width, while the height will be adjusted according to Facebook’s algorithm for the process. A vertically-oriented image (portrait orientation), will be scaled to a width of 476 pixels, with the height being scaled according to the Facebook algorithm, although it will not exceed 714 pixels.
There are two different places you have to be concerned about where images can be displayed in Pinterest. Pinterest images in the feed will all be displayed at 236 pixels wide, with height being scaled accordingly, up to a ceiling of 800 pixels. When a user clicks on a pinned image and goes to that image’s page, it will be displayed at a width of 564 pixels, with height being scaled. According to the Pinterest platform itself, the ideal image ratio should be 2:3, with 600 pixels being the minimum width size.
Whenever you upload an image directly to Google, that image will be displayed at a maximum width of 431 pixels, regardless of its original size, and the image height will be scaled accordingly. When a user clicks on the image to expand it, it will be shown at a maximum of 530 pixels wide, with the height being scaled according to Google’s display algorithm.
Twitter has a single approach to presenting images uploaded with your posts, so regardless of whether it’s oriented horizontally, vertically, or square, your image will always be scaled to 506 pixels in width, with height adjustment that does not exceed 506 pixels. This means that any image you upload that is smaller than 253 pixels tall and 506 pixels wide will be displayed with some degree of whitespace at the right-hand side of the image. This presentation mode pertains exclusively to desktop presentation, as there is a separate strategy for mobile displays.
On any mobile display, Twitter will crop the image into a horizontal rectangle, so Twitter recommends that for the purpose of mobile display, any images uploaded should ideally start out at 1200 pixels wide and 675 pixels tall, which represents an aspect ratio of 16:9.
Although Instagram used to prefer all square images, you can now upload portrait-oriented images and horizontal images just as well. This means your options are greatly opened as far as your product photos are concerned, just keep in mind that all images will display in square format on your profile page until the viewer clicks to expand your image. To avoid an oddly placed image subject, it’s best to keep your subject in the center of your photo so that it still displays in full when cropped to square in your profile feed.
The ideal image sizes for uploading to Instagram are as follows:
- a horizontal image should be 1080 pixels wide and 566 pixels in height
- a square image should be 1080 pixels wide and 1080 pixels in height
- a vertical image should be 1080 pixels wide, and 1350 pixels in height
LinkedIn image posts
For all LinkedIn image posts, the ideal size is going to be 552 pixels wide and 368 pixels in height, and any larger image will be cropped to fit within this display size. If you load a horizontally-oriented image, it will retain the 368 pixels in height, but will have both sides cropped. If a square image is uploaded or a portrait oriented image, in both cases, LinkedIn will adjust it to a with the 552 pixels, and will crop whatever is necessary on the bottom of the image to fit within the 368-pixel scheme.
However, it should be noted that the strategy only pertains to the image preview, and that users can see the full image by clicking on it. The drawback to that is that if the image doesn’t appear appealing in the preview, there won’t be much reason for a user to click on it to see the ideal representation.
The most important takeaway here is that image size varies, but it’s importance is immense. Uploading an image smaller than each platform’s display size will result in a grainy or pixelated photo that does not sit well with your audience. We recommend resizing images to fit each platform before uploading or, at the very least, choosing an image size that satisfies and/or exceeds each network’s requirements to avoid photos that are too small.