Sizing for Engagement: A Social Media Image Guide

It seems that much of our decision-making is driven by a social network’s algorithm, especially on Facebook. In order to (organically) reach the most people, we have to play by the network’s rules, and to look our best, our images have to follow their guidelines.

A good image is important to a successful social media post. But, if that image is sized correctly, it becomes even more powerful. It can contribute to your followers’ positive experience and perhaps even encourage them to engage. Correct image sizing also helps your social media sites look professional and stand out in the sea of content.

Below you’ll find a list of image optimization for several social media sites.


Let’s start with Facebook. Its algorithm is by far the pickiest and the most complicated.

When posting a link on Facebook, the image that populates isn’t always the best. Sometimes it cuts off important information. Sometimes it populates a small image on the side. Sometimes it can’t even find an image (and if that’s happening, try this tool). Thankfully, Facebook gives us the option to upload our own images instead, so that you’re not bound by the one Facebook’s crawler found. Use your own customized content instead!

Upload images to Facebook that are at least 1,200 x 630 pixels for the best display quality (minimum of 470 x 246).

This will create a perfectly sized image above the link rather than next to it.

Uploading link photo facebook

Timeline Photo
Timeline photos are a little tricky because they appear differently (in terms of pixel size) in a person’s newsfeed than they do on your brand’s page. Photos on your brand’s page display at a max width of 504 pixels. Photos in a newsfeed display at a max width of 470 pixels. Facebook automatically scales down photos, so the key is to upload something that’s at least as wide as 504 pixels.

At the College of Health and Human Sciences, we’ve had good results reaching our followers when uploading pictures at 800 x 600 or 1,200 x 630.

correct size facebook timeline photo

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Portraits (pictures that are longer than they are wide) will upload with a blank space along the right side of the image.
  • Photos cannot contain more than 20 percent text. Facebook thinks these images are purely promotional and will not put them in front of your audience.
  • If you do upload a 2048 pixel photo, make sure you selected the “high quality” option in order to avoid compression.

Profile Picture
Design your profile picture to at least 180 x 180 pixels. As with every other photo, Facebook will automatically scale it down. Facebook will also crop your profile picture to a square if it isn’t already.

Cover Photo
Cover photos are 851 x 315 pixels. According to Facebook, cover photos load fastest as an sRBG JPG file that’s 851 x 315 and less than 100 kilobytes.

FB sizing cover art
Photo courtesy of Facebook


Twitter is much simpler. Thank goodness.

Header images: 1,500 x 500 pixels
These images are gigantic, so try to find the highest quality photo possible.

Profile photo: 400 x 400 pixels (displays at 200 x 200)

Shared photo: Maximum expanded size 1024 x 512
Twitter may scale your photo so that it fits seamlessly into a user’s stream. To make sure all your photos are looking their best, make sure your images fit the minimum width requirements (440 pixels). The in-stream photo preview size is 440 x 220. When a user clicks on the photo, it will expand to its full height.

Twitter shared photo  vs.  Twitter shared photo-expanded



Instagram is one of the best platforms for sharing images, and has relatively simple guidelines. The site even did away with its square image requirement. Instagram also supports images up to 1080 pixels now.

Profile picture: 110 x 110 pixels
Keep in mind that the app displays your profile image as a circle, so make sure that nothing important will be cut off.



Portrait style photos are best for Pinterest. The site recommends pins that are at least 600 pixels wide with an aspect ratio of 2:3 to 1:3.5. This is because super long pins get cut off in feeds if the ratio is greater than 1:3.5. Those infinitely long pins only show up in full on the board it’s pinned to. They will be cut off with an “expand” button in a user’s feed.

pinterest full pin  vs.  pinterest expand



Profile picture: Upload an image that is at minimum 250 x 250 pixels (Google recommends larger photos). Like Instagram, the Google+ profile picture is displayed as a circle. Again, make sure no important information will get cut off.

Cover Image: 1,080 x 608 pixels

Shared Image: Minimum width of 497 pixels.
Google+ will resize images to fit this minimum, so if you upload something smaller than 497 pixels wide, your image may appear distorted or blurry. Portraits look best on Google+ and the height will scale automatically for you.

Taking a few minutes to correctly size images for your social media sites can have a big impact. Try it out and see how your followers engage!