Smart marketers have known the way to a fan's heart is through their eyes for some time, but significant changes to Facebook's News Feed underscored the importance of visuals even further.
Facebook wants stories shared through their platform to be more vibrant, colorful, and ultimately more engaging. It seems they're just following users' lead; last year the social network shared their own research, which showed that posts including a photo album, picture, or video generate about 180 percent, 120 percent, and 100 percent more engagement, respectively.
Use this guide to help you improve the quality of images you upload and display on Facebook, by using the right dimensions, resolution, and features for the job.
Facebook Cover Photo
We'll start with cover photos, the large banner image at the top of your company page. The minimum size accepted is 720 pixels wide but you may experience loss of quality.
The optimal image size for cover photos is 851 x 315 pixels. Start with a canvas of double that size – 1702 x 630 – for sharp, crisp images; Facebook will resize it and you'll have the right dimensions.
Follow these dos and don'ts of cover images, directly from Facebook:
- Do use a unique image to represent your page.
- Do experiment with different images to see which gets the best response.
- Do change up your image to highlight special events, seasonal trends, or other types of campaigns.
- Don't include any content that may be deceptive, misleading, infringe on anyone else's copyright, or violate Facebook's Pages Terms.
- Don't encourage people to upload your cover image to their personal Timeline.
- Don't make more than 20 percent of your cover image text.
Facebook relaxed their cover images guidelines as of March 6, 2013, adding the 20 percent text rule but easing up on their restriction on a call to action or contact information on the image.
Facebook also offers this helpful advice: To get the fastest load times for your Page, upload an sRGB JPG file that's less than 100 kilobytes. For images with your logo or text content, you may get a higher quality result by using a PNG file.
Facebook Profile Image
Next up, your Company Page needs a profile picture, which will display at 160 x 160 pixels but must be at least 180 x 180 pixels to upload. Rectangular images will be cropped to fit the square display area.
On your Company Page, the profile image partially overlays the Cover Image and appears beside your company name. It would be redundant to have your entire company name in the profile image. However, on the rest of the site and in Newsfeeds, your profile image should be recognizable to fans. Standing alone, it must make sense to your fans.
Your profile image appears around the site, where you've Liked or Commented and in the newsfeeds of others, at 90 x 90 pixels. Keep in mind that your profile image must be legible at this resolution, as well.
Facebook Apps Icons
Facebook Apps icons on a company page display at 111 x 74 pixels. These appear at the top of the page, below the cover image and to the right of your About information. If your image is larger, it will be resized and cropped to fit.
Facebook seems to work from the top of the image down when cropping apps icons to fit. In the example above, the "Optimize" event icon was square, for the profile image on the event page. It had the same amount of black space over and under the title.
In the apps icon, the top portion of the image shows, while the bottom is cut away. Keep this in mind when creating apps images or designating images for events. If you have a custom app for fans, the favicon on the side of their Newsfeed will display at just 16 x 16 pixels.
If you're using iFrames to pull in content from elsewhere for custom tabs (apps), you can set your Canvas Width to the default setting, "Fixed (760px)." This gives your app a fixed width of 760 pixels.
Or, you can set your width to "Fluid," which means Facebook sets the iframe width to 100 percent. Content is then be left-aligned and resized to fill the page as the user changes the width of their browser. See Facebook's Canvas Tutorial for more on apps.
Facebook Photo Albums
Photo Albums can contain up to 1,000 photos. The maximum image size for uploading to your company albums or timeline is 2048 x 2048 pixels. The maximum display size within a photo album is 960 x 720 pixels (landscape orientation).
However, Facebook now allows users to choose to view images full-screen, if they choose. Depending on this preference and the size of the screen on which they're viewing your content, they may see the image at up to the max upload size, 2048 x 2048.
Check the "high quality" box while you're uploading to ensure you get the highest resolution possible. Facebook recently demonstrated how their new photo viewer works:
Facebook Timeline Photos
Timeline Photos, those you post in status updates straight to your page, are displayed in a container allowing an image size of 403 x 403 pixels square. Larger images will display from the center of the image, meaning some of the edges may not appear until the user clicks through.
Highlighted Facebook Images
If you choose to Highlight an image on the company page, it will span the width of the page and display at 843 x 403 pixels.
For Facebook Ads, you should use images that are at least 1,200 pixels wide; images for News Feed ads should be at least 600 pixels wide. Larger or smaller images will be resized.
Always try to upload an image of the proper dimensions to avoid warping or cropping you didn't anticipate. The max file size for images for Facebook Ads is 25MB.
Facebook Ads images also have their own set of rules:
- Must be relevant and appropriate to the advertised product.
- May not exploit political, sexual or other sensitive issues.
- May not be overly sexual, imply nudity, show excessive amounts of skin or cleavage, or focus unnecessarily on body parts.
- May not portray nonexistent functionality, including but not limited to play buttons that suggest video capability and close buttons that do not close.
- May not contain QR codes.
- May not use Facebook brand images without permission, including but not limited to logos, icons and alert notification graphics.
- Images targeted to users under 18 must be appropriate for that age group.
- May not include images made up of more than 20% text, including logos and slogans. Note: this does not apply to pictures of products that include text on the actual product. Photos of products in real situations or photos of products with a background are acceptable. Images that are zoomed in on logos or images with text overlay are not allowed.
Did I miss any? Leave your questions or tips about any other Facebook image specs in the comments!
Editor's note: This column originally was published on April 17, 2013, and was the most read column of the year on Search Engine Watch in 2013. This post also has been updated to reflect changes since it's original publication date. This concludes the Best of 2013, where we have revisited SEW’s most popular columns, as determined by our readers. We hope you have enjoyed this look back!