As a marketer, you know that quality visuals are a crucial element of any successful social media strategy. But with the abundance of platforms and content types, formatting the visuals to make them look their best might become tricky.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting social media image sizes just right:
At first sight, it might seem that it’s text that makes the social media marketing world go round.
That’s because it’s words that mostly help you achieve your marketing objectives.
Just think about it: every time you want your followers to complete one of your goals, be it liking your content or visiting your web, you tell them to do so through words.
The CTAs companies use on social media are all mostly text.
So if that’s the case, why should marketers even focus on social media images?
We identified top five reasons:
People will remember your message 65% better if you pair your content with images on blogs and social media. This is a striking difference to just 10% of information people retain after reading or hearing it. This explains why 80% of marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing!
People find it easier to follow a set of instructions that are presented to them in the form of illustrations. In fact, they do it 323% better than those who are reading a text-only message or guide.
Social media platforms are becoming increasingly visually-oriented. Twitter, for example, was made popular by its short-form text messages and the popular hashtags. However, things have changed significantly in the past few years. Now, Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those who are text only.
Articles that display images every 75-100 words receive double the social media shares compared to their text-only counterparts. So, if you want to increase your reach and chances of going viral, make sure to include visuals in your written content!
Facebook content containing images gets more interactions. According to HubSpot, posts with images achieve a 37% higher engagement rate than text, which means you should definitely center your Facebook strategy around visuals.
We’ve discussed the importance of images and why should you use visuals in your social media marketing campaigns.
Before we delve into the specific types and sizes of visuals on social media, take a look at our handy cheat sheet for the standard photo, profile, and cover image on the most popular social media sites:
Updated July 2019: As pointed out by one of our readers, senior strategist Kristian Hlousek, the Twitter photo size is often recommended to be 1024×512, but that’s no longer the correct size.
Now, let’s delve into the social media image sizes and types available at different platforms.
It is important to point out that all the major social media platforms are similar in the types of visual content they offer.
In fact, there are three types of visuals you can share on social media: vertical, rectangular, and square.
Let’s take a closer look at each of them:
Pinterest was the first social media platform to popularize vertical content – a format that grew popular once smartphones became widespread.
Because people naturally keep their smartphones in a vertical position, the need for vertical content has been increasing, which caused other platforms to eventually introduce it.
Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook decided to introduce the format, first through Stories and later through vertical videos.
The Stories format was first launched by Snapchat in 2013. Three years later, in August 2016, Instagram introduced Stories, and that’s when the format took off, claiming its spot across numerous platforms and apps.
As much as 60% of all the Instagram users use the feature and post Stories on a regular basis. Out of these users, 50% are businesses and professional marketers – and if you’re one of them, it’s essential that you know what image size is perfect for your Stories.
Based on the official recommendations from Instagram, the Stories format dimensions are 1080 by 1920 pixels. In other words, it is a traditional vertical HD size with an aspect ratio of 9:16.
Applying these dimensions will enable you to create professional-looking Stories, using your own and curated visuals you can upload from mobile.
If you want to upload a Story off-hand, use your mobile camera in portrait mode – the images will fit the recommended image ratio just right.
Don’t forget you can invest in creating ads in Stories!
These types of ads are a great choice for marketers since they appear in full screen – in fact, they’re the first ad format that’s displayed in such mode.
Additionally, the ads appear in between other Stories people shared on Instagram, so they don’t feel as intrusive, which is a huge benefit.
Here’s a quick rundown of the recommended social media image sizes for vertical content across platforms:
The horizontal format is the most traditional format for visuals.
In the past, people would shoot photos and videos in a horizontal position with the aspect ratios of 4:3 and 16:9. These ratios were later popularized by television and, eventually, by video sharing platforms such as YouTube.
Due to the increasing number of people browsing the Internet on vertical-friendly mobile devices, the horizontal format lost on popularity. Still, there’s quite a lot of places across social media where horizontal content is a must – and that’s why you need to know how to use it.
Horizontal content is essential when setting up your social media pages and profiles, and especially header images on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.
But because the headers on Facebook and Twitter are not standardized, you need to pay attention to their distinct sizes.
Here’s a little cheat sheet:
Twitter header sizes:
The new Twitter profile header format is a standardized 1500 pixels by 500 pixels banner.
This is the maximum size that Twitter will later resize for proper display on their web platform.
You don’t necessarily have to stick to the 1500px x 500px format – you can get along just fine with 1263 pixels by 421 pixels banners. However, it’s best if you choose the maximum width for proper display on big screens.
Twitter profiles are responsive. In practice, this means your profile banner will be scaled and cropped to fit all screens, especially on mobile phones and tablets.
Facebook header sizes:
The most popular social media channel, Facebook, comes with slightly different recommendations when it comes to header image sizes.
They also outline how to crop post images:
Recommended Facebook cover photo size: 828 x 315 pixels for business profiles, 851×315 pixels for personal profiles.
Recommended News Feed link image size: 1200 x 900 pixels, with a news feed image ratio of 4:3.
The desktop news feed will be displayed at a ratio and size that goes up to 470 x 470 pixels while on mobile devices, the same images will go up to 626 x 840 pixels.
In summary, these are the recommended sizes for vertical content:
Square images are popular with marketers because they are properly displayed and easy-to-read both on desktop and mobile. In addition, all social media profile images are square.
Why choose square?
Square visuals are compatible with all sorts of devices, whether they’re used in a vertical or horizontal position.
What’s more, leveraging square visuals is essential if you want to build your presence on Instagram, where square is a default image format.
Here’s a list of the recommended square profile image sizes across platforms:
Profile image sizes:
TIP: If you are in a hurry and you are not accustomed to all these size recommendations for different social media channels, you can use a professional third party design tool to do the job for you.
Bannersnack, for instance, is a web-based app for designers, that comes with an already defined preset of image sizes that are suitable for all major social media platforms. You only need to create one and then apply your design to the full set.
If you are trying to market your business on social media, you need to understand how to use social media images in the right way. The first step to achieving this goal is knowing all the different social media image sizes – something we hope this article has helped you with.
If you want to take your visual content strategy a step further, check out this article and see how media brands are optimizing their Instagram images to drive more engagement!
Robert Katai is a visual marketer, blogger, and content marketing strategist at Bannersnack.