Let’s face it — as photographers, we have to spend a ton of time on social media sharing our images. But depending on the platform, it’s not as easy as just clicking the “Upload” button. Different social networks recommend different image sizes, in order to make your photos look as best as possible.
While every social network compresses uploaded images somewhat, the amount your image is effected is often based on the size you upload at, as well as some additional factors, like compression and converting to different color spaces.
For Facebook, I have a very simple method of uploading. In Lightroom, all the images I take are exported as a JPEG at 2400 pixels on the long side at 90% quality. I’ve found this offers the least amount of compression in your image, and helps to make your images look their finest on the world’s most popular social network.
Facebook recommends an image exported at 1200 pixels wide, but by doubling to 2048 pixels, you’re ensuring the image looks great on higher-resolution monitors.
I also make sure to export in the sRGB color space, so my colors aren’t altered once uploaded. Regardless of the size you go with, also be sure that your image is under 100 KB in order to avoid compression by Facebook.
If you need to add text to an image, you’ll want to add it in Photoshop, and then use the “Save for Web” function and export as a PNG-24 image. This will ensure your image still looks good, but that your text is as sharp as possible. With JPEG, text tends to be a little fuzzy when uploaded.
For cover photos, size your image to 1630×916 pixels. You might see a slightly different number elsewhere, but this number ensures that your image looks good on your phone and tablet as well as your computer.
With Twitter, it’s a little easier. The maximum width an image will ever appear on Twitter (even expanded) is 1024 pixels. Thus, I follow the same guidelines as I do Facebook — I export a JPEG and double the size up to 2048 pixels, with 90% quality.
For Twitter header images, it’s recommended these are sized to 1500×500 pixels.
Thankfully, the quality on Instagram is much better than was once allowed. Images are sized up to 1024 pixels. Following the doubling method, I export at a size of 2048 pixels on the long side, with 90% quality again. But I’ve had good luck with pretty much anything over 2048 pixels.
Instagram seems much more forgiving and doesn’t compress images nearly as much as its sister company Facebook does.
Why 90% Quality?
I export all my web-based images at 90% quality. Why? You can’t tell a difference. In my tests, anything over 60% quality you’ll rarely see a change in how an image appears. By lessening the quality level slightly, you shrink the file size of the image slightly, which means less compression by the social networks.
Social media sizes are constantly evolving, and it’s important to stay on top of them in order to deliver high-quality images to your audiences. With every new design change Facebook implements, they often change their image sizes, so be sure to stay on top of that as things change over time.
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