Best Practices for Resizing Photos for Your Social Media Platforms

Written by CivicPlus
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74 percent of social media marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing. Why? They know the impact that images have on informing and engaging visitors. They know that when people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10 percent of it three days later, but when a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retain 65 percent of the information three days later. Incorporating beautiful, unique, local imagery into your social media posts should be an impactful aspect of your social media strategy.


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It’s essential to understand, however, that if you choose engaging photos for your social media pages, but they are not sized to display ideally within the selected social media platform, they will not be nearly as effective as they should be. To help you get the most out of your photo assets, we’ve provided tips for the ideal photo sizes to use within the most common social platforms used by local governments: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. We have also provided suggested tools to help you quickly and effectively re-size your images, regardless of your technical or graphic design experience.

Civic Tip: Click here for tips on choosing the most impactful photos for your local government website.


Ideal Image Sizes for Facebook

As of the time of this post’s publishing, Facebook supports the following dimensions for its photo placements:

  • Profile Photo: Photos are displayed as 160 px X 160 px. However, all photos are compressed by Facebook. To minimize the risk of your picture losing clarify and becoming fuzzy or pixelated, Facebook recommends that you upload profile photos at a larger size, specifically 720 px X 720 px or 960 px X 960 px.
  • Cover Photos: 851 px X 315 px. Know that cover photos render differently when viewed on a desktop computer than on a mobile device. On a desktop, the viewable dimension width is 829 px. On a mobile device, the viewable dimension width is 560 px. Keep these areas in mind when considering the composition of your cover photo.
  • Event Photos: 1920 px X 1080 px.
  • Posts: Facebook recommends when adding images to posts to use photos that are at least 1200 px X 630 px for best results. At a minimum, use pictures that are 600 px X 315 px. At a maximum, images should not exceed 8MB in overall file size.

Save any edited images as an image file, such as a JPEG, GIF or PNG.


Ideal Image Sizes for Twitter

Unfortunately, Twitter and Facebook’s recommended photo sizes are not the same, which means you’ll need to size images differently to use them on both platforms. While Twitter does accept the uploading of images with tweets, the primarily text-based nature of Twitter requires images be sized to accommodate its condensed viewing area for best results. The following dimensions are recommended for Twitter images.

  • Profile Picture: Displays at 200 px X 200 px, but Twitter recommends uploading an image that is 400 x 400. Photos cannot exceed 2 MB.
  • Header Photo: 1,500 px X 500 px. Photos cannot exceed 5 MB.
  • In-Stream Tweet Photos: Use a 2:1 ratio, ideally 440 px X 220 px. The maximum dimensions are 1024 px X 512 px, but your photo will appear collapsed in your followers’ streams at a maximum of 506 px X 253 px. You can upload up to four images at a time, but the maximum file size is 5 MB for photos, 5 MB for animated GIFs on mobile, and 15 MB for animated gifs on a desktop.

Save any edited images as an image file, such as a JPEG, GIF or PNG.


Ideal Image Sizes for Instagram

Instagram is primarily a visual platform, which means the use of beautiful, engaging, and appropriately sized images are crucial for gaining followers. From a planning and platform management perspective, keep in mind that Instagram has been designed for mobile photo uploads only. Unless you are using a social media management solution, you will need to size and upload any images from a mobile device. Use the following image sizes and dimensions for upload to Instagram.

  • Posts: At least 320 px and no more than 1080 px wide. For images at the maximum 1080 px wide size, Instagram will display the full image in followers’ streams as long as the image’s height is between 566 px and 1350 px.

Save any edited images as an image file, such as a JPEG, GIF or PNG.


Ideal Image Sizes for Pinterest

The visual nature of Pinterest makes it an ideal tool for communities looking to promote tourism, commerce, and other local interests. Like Instagram, for the greatest possible engagement, make sure your images are appropriately sized for ideal viewing. The following sizes are recommended:

  • Pins: Use an aspect ratio of 2:3 to 1:3:5. Also:
    • Maximum pin width: 736 px
    • For long, vertical pins, do not exceed 2061 px
  • Profile Image: Photos will be displayed at 165 px X 165 px, but Pinterest recommends uploading a 600 x 600 image.
  • Cover Images: Photos will be displayed at 217 px X 147 px in full size. The small thumbnails that appear below the cover image will display at 51 px X 51 px.

Save any edited images as an image file, such as a JPEG, GIF or PNG.

Available Tools for Resizing Images

You do not need to have a graphic designer on staff to be a social media photo resizing maverick. There are a variety of tools available that can help you quickly and accurately re-size photos, regardless of your technical skill set. Consider using the following solutions:

  • Landscape by Sprout Social – This free tool uses convenient drag-and-drop functionality to help non-technical users resize images for multiple social media platforms and positions in a streamlined, multi-step process.
  • Pic Resize – A free and simple online tool for cropping, resizing and adding special effects to images.
  • BlogStomp – This cloud-based solution allows users to resize, collage, crop, and watermark images for use in blogs, Facebook, galleries, and other social media applications.
  • Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom – These paid software solutions provide full image resizing, retouching, and editing capabilities. Lightroom is designed for use with photos, while Photoshop allows for more significant graphic design work. If you have experience using graphic design software, these tools will allow for detailed editing and resizing.
  • Microsoft Paint ­­– If you utilize a PC, your software stack may include Microsoft Paint, a simple raster graphics editor typically included with all versions of Microsoft Windows. The app opens and saves files in Windows bitmap, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and single-page TIFF formats.

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