Facebook is a wily beast, hard to pin down but vast in its appeal. According to the Pew Research Center, a full 71% of online adults use this social media behemoth. So it’s about time you learned how to tailor your images for Facebook sharing, right?
Follow these tips and guidelines to wrangle your Facebook images like ornery steers, win their respect, and ride into the sunset (also known as “engage your audience with fan-frooping-tabulous images”).
Here’s what we’re gonna cover:
- Facebook cover photos (See what we did there?)
- Shared images, whether on their own or as featured images on shared links
- Facebook’s 20% text rule
- Image compression
Facebook cover photos
Taking up what those in the social media biz call “a lot of real estate,” your Facebook cover photo is a primo opportunity to engage audiences. (Though if it were actual real estate, at 851 x 315 pixels it’s not exactly a luxury condo. What is this, a center for ants?!)
“What if I come up with a cover photo that’s all wrong for my brand?” we pretend you asked us.
Not to worry: a Facebook cover photo does not represent a lifetime commitment. In fact, no matter how spectacular your cover photo is, you should still update it every so often to avoid giving the impression that your business has nothing going on. Update your cover photo seasonally, or to promote new products.
To easily design a Facebook cover photo that incorporates multiple images, we have two options: one, head to our Collage tutorial and build your cover there. Two, go off the grid and design your Facebook cover in a freer-floating format: our Design tool has a handy 851 x 315 preset to get you started.
Pro tip: 851 x 315 is the size Facebook recommends. However, we’ve found that Facebook cover images look amaaaazing if you double that dimension. (Before you whip out your calculator, that’s 1702 x 630.) Facebook will scale your 1702 x 630 cover down to the right size, plus bonus image quality.
Facebook image posts
Shared images on Facebook should be sized to 1200 x 1200. There are two main formats for posting images to your Facebook timeline: as the featured image for a link, or as an image by itself. But which should you choose?
The conventional wisdom is that images outperform every other type of post on Facebook. In general, we on the good ship PicMonkey have found that to be true, with one distinction: images don’t have to stand alone. You can pair images with a link to anywhere you like—your blog, your online storefront, wherever.
“But wait a minute,” an imaginary voice interjects, causing us to turn quickly—only to find that we’re alone. “How is that different from just sharing a link?”
Aside from the difference in engagement levels (with images outperforming links), the obvious difference is one of image size. Image posts to your timeline are 1200 x 1200, but images that accompany link posts are 1200 x 627. Whaaat? That’s almost a 50% reduction in height! Put your shoes on, Doris, we’re leaving.
… Or so we might, if we didn’t remember that we can upload a beauteous 1200 x 1200 image and share a link with our followers in the post body. If the link we add is too cumbersome, we can shorten it for easy reading.
Facebook’s “20% text” rule for images
Facebook has a unique set of guidelines that applies to ads; ignoring the guidelines could result in a post you paid cold hard cash to promote getting suspended. Among Facebook’s ad guidelines is the requirement that any text in your image must take up less than 20% of its total area.
We thought we knew 20% when we saw it, but this rule is surprisingly easy to break. Take the image below:
With its coupon code, this image is one that a business owner might reasonably want to promote. However, Facebook’s grid analysis tool informed us that this image is a whopping 32% text. 32? How is that even possible?
To comply with Facebook’s ad requirements but still promote the coupon code, a business owner could post this image using only the business name and “Find the dress,” adding discount details in the body of the post.
When you upload images to Facebook, those images suffer reduction in quality because of Facebook’s lossy compression. Lossy compression, as you may recall from our photo jargon article, is a means of reducing file size by eliminating some of the information it contains. When it comes to images, this information is pixels.
“So what’s the result of lossy compression?” we could have sworn we heard someone whisper from immediately behind us. Reader, was that you?
Lossy compression results in aliasing, or, in more fun parlance, “jaggies”: incongruous stair-step edges that make images look craggy. To retain as much quality as possible, save images at an ultra-high resolution before sharing to Facebook. (A good example of such high resolution is PicMonkey’s Sean setting.)
PicMonkey provides an up-to-date list of image sizes for social media giants like Facebook and Pinterest. Not only that, but we’ve got a number of common social media sizes built into our Editor. Head to Crop and peruse our dropdown menu for options.
Turn inspiration into action. Treat yourself to the creative tool kit that we call PicMonkey Premium.