How to Format Photos for Social Media

Dec 2015
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photo: @pokercuts

You’ve found the perfect photo to share on social media. But you upload it, and suddenly your masterpiece becomes a botched close-up of someone’s forehead. Or conversely, your Ansel Adams-esque landscape shot looks grainier than a sack of rice. So what’s the deal?

Your image is probably the wrong size, shape or file type for the social media channel you are using! Every social media site has different standards for image optimization. Here are some tips to help your social media channels look their best:

Instagram photos are usually square. Instagram currently supports JPG and PNG file types for images, and now supports video uploaded from your phone’s camera roll. For best results, upload images at a minimum of 640 x 640 pixels. The maximum size you should upload is 1080 x 1080 pixels. Your profile picture will be cropped to a circle, which will crop out the corners of whatever image you are using, so make sure the focal point of your image is centered or use a graphic design app such as Canva to scale your image into a circular template.

 Facebook profile photos should be a square JPG or PNG, and be a minimum of 180 x 180 pixels. However, it’s best to go larger so people can see more detail when they expand your image. Cover photos should be 851 x 315 pixels. Anything smaller will be stretched and won’t look right. If your cover photo has a lot of text, upload a PNG file.  Otherwise a JPG is sufficient. Posts that show up in feed should be uploaded at 1200 x 630 as a JPG or PNG, and timeline posts that you intend to highlight look optimal at 1200 x 717 pixels. Use a PNG for highlight photos; you’ll retain more detail and image quality.

Twitter profile images will appear as a square and should be uploaded at a minimum of 400 x 400 pixels. Images that show up in the feed should be uploaded at a minimum of 440 x 220 pixels, and at a max of 1024 x 512 pixels. Twitter supports JPG, PNG, and GIF files.

YouTube channel cover images appear differently depending on the type of device a user is viewing it from. The safest bet is to upload a large image that will appear correctly on a desktop; 2560 x 423 is optimal. Mobile and tablet users will see a smaller version of your banner with the 25% of the bottom and top cropped off, so it’s a good strategy to keep the interesting portion of your image’s content towards the center of your banner. Use a PNG if possible since you are uploading a large image. Videos should be uploaded at 1280 x 760 pixels.

Pinterest pins should ideally be long and tall, but you can also pin squares effectively. Your pins will display at 236 pixels wide and Pinterest will automatically scale the height, but upload at a minimum width of 600 pixels so viewers can expand your pin and get a better look. Board cover photos will show up at 220 x 150 pixels. JPG and PNG file types are supported.

These guidelines should help you get your social media channels in tip-top shape!








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