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How social image sizes can affect your engagement

By now almost everyone has some sort of social media presence. Whether its following accounts on Facebook or posting images from your own business on Instagram, their global number of users for all social media platforms is in the millions. Hundreds of millions in some cases.

With user count so high, the slightest things can be the difference between your post being seen, or falling into the social media abyss of no likes or shares. Adding an attractive image to your post can heighten your chances of being seen, but beware, an incorrectly formatted picture can have the opposite effect, causing users to scroll past your post.

Why do social media images need to be formatted correctly?

If you are taking the time to add posts to your social channel, no doubt it is because you want to present your company or its products to an audience, to raise awareness or get likes, shares and followers on your content.

Social accounts lile Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest and Twitter all include a visual element and allow their users to add pictures, sometimes multiple pictures to their posts. Stunning visuals that attract attention can be an instant attention grabber for people scrolling through social feeds, so for this reason, any images you use will need to be perfect.

One of the biggest errors that social media posters can make is to use a photo or image that is formatted incorrectly, or is the wrong dimensions. Depending on the platform, images may need to be in a landscape or portrait format in a square or rectangular shape. Using the wrong one can mean that the image is automatically cropped to fit the platform’s feed.

This can lead to a loss of resolution, make image text hard to read, or reduce and cut off parts of your image, leading to an incomplete picture.

What size photos should be used on each platform?

Some platforms ‘speak’ nicely to each other, in the case of Instagram and Facebook, image formats, while not exactly the same, can be cross posted between the accounts and keep their aspect ratio meaning that images are not cropped down.

However, for other platforms this simply does not work.

Trying to share a post from Instagram to Twitter for example will lead to images being cut down to fit, losing information in the process.

This quick reference chart from Hootsuite provides a quick overview of some of the main social channels and the required image sizes.

One of the biggest errors that social media posters can make is to use a photo or image that is formatted incorrectly, or is the wrong dimensions. Depending on the platform, images may need to be in a landscape or portrait format in a square or rectangular shape. Using the wrong one can mean that the image is automatically cropped to fit the platform’s feed.

This can lead to a loss of resolution, make image text hard to read, or reduce and cut off parts of your image, leading to an incomplete picture.

What happens if images are poor?

Anyone that has regularly used social media will know that a poor looking photo looks bad. Simply put, having awkwardly cropped images that are hard to view is an engagement killer. Learning which size photo is needed for which platform is complicated as each one is different, but if you hope to use your accounts to engage with your audience and promote your business, properly sized images are essential.

Eye catching photos that display well on social feeds, whether on desktop or mobile devices, will encourage users to stop and click rather than scroll by. Whatever you post on your feed is also reflective of your brand, so a poor quality, badly cropped image will make you appear unprofessional.

Some platforms like Twitter, try to give its users a helping hand. By using machine learning tools Twitter crops photos while trying to retain the most interesting part, so even if images are not quite formatted correctly, Twitter will attempt to display them as well as possible. Even with this capability, there is no guarantee that your picture will display well. It is still best to use images that are of the correct dimensions to maintain the correct visual impression in your feed and avoid excess pixelation.

Multiple image formats, one platform

If you are posting a variety of content to your social media accounts like live videos, reels, stories and posts, don’t fall into the trap of one size fits all. The required dimensions for posts can fluctuate even with the same platform.

A square Instagram post will not look quite so effective if shared to Instagram stories. These interactive post types are formatted to display as a rectangular, portrait style image, meaning square posts don’t look so great if shared in this way.

On top of multiple post types there are also profile photos to consider. Depending on the platform you are using this will need to be a certain size and pixel height and width to display property.

It’s a lot to remember.

If you are attempting to manage a number of social accounts it can be worth engaging the services of a social media management company who have the graphical tools and expertise to keep up with changing image size requirements. Professional graphics can be created on your behalf and posted to your account without risking image loss due to incorrect formatting.

Impact of good images

Along with looking great, photos and graphics added to your post can help with other important things. They can generate interest in your brand and business, and drive recognition. Images can help your audience remember your posts, and build your identity, especially if you are using consistent colours and imagery across all of your social platforms.

A picture can be worth a thousand words, or in the world of social media, a thousand likes, so it is crucial for your business that your post images are on point. A social media post that contains a good photo is ten times more likely to get engagement, and tailoring pictures to your target audience can drive even more interaction.

Final words

We can deduce from all this that images are a strategic component of your marketing efforts. So next time you are designing social posts, make sure that your images are consistent, on-brand, and correctly formatted for the best chance of engagement.

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