When you’ve got your branding worked out and your website is done (or even before your website is done, I suppose), you’ll want to start updating your social media profiles. Each one is slightly different, and it can be a pain to keep all your social media profile images straight.In an effort to help you get those done quickly and stylishly, I’ve put together this cheat sheet of the major social media sites and what the requirements are for their photos. Click the platform below to jump to that section, or scroll through if you need them all!
If I’m missing your favorite one, please leave a comment and let me know!
How to make great social media profile images
When you’re using a photograph of yourself, it’s not too difficult to get one that works well. All of the platforms allow you to zoom and crop images, so unless you have an oddly-framed photo, you can usually find a profile image that looks good.
That’s not necessarily the case when you’re trying to create a profile image with your brand.
It’s pretty easy to find out what the right sizes are for profile images (especially now, since I’ve put them in this post for you), but what about when it isn’t a square or rectangle? You’ll run the risk of cropping out some text or parts of your logo if you’re not careful.
Take Instagram for example. The sweet spot is at about 110 pixels square for one that doesn’t scale down, but it’s a circle. So if you have text at the bottom of your image, you’ll be chopping off corners of it from the bottom left and right. It can be a pain to get it right.
This cheat sheet will help. Not only do I have the sizes for you (at least as of 2017), but I’m also including templates you can use to create your own for the trickier ones. At the end of the post, I’ll show you how to use the templates to get your images working really quickly.
Before I get to the platforms, I want to say a brief word about file formats.
Generally, if you’re using a photograph, a JPG will be the best option. If you’re using logos or text, you might want to try using a PNG format. They typically scale better and don’t distort as much as JPGs do.
Ok, let’s get started!
Ideal: 170×170 px
Minimum: 128×128 px
Facebook tells us that on the image scales all the way from 170 down to 38px, but very few of your mobile users will be on the smallest end, so it’s safe to plan for something that will scale well at 128px. It’s a square with no odd cropping, so just start your graphic at 170×170 and make it all fit. The instructions at the bottom of this post will help you create one, and since it’s a basic square you don’t need to start with a template, just a new image.
Ideal: 820×312 px
Minimum: 399×150 px
The cover photo changes its scale depending on the screen. On a computer monitor it’ll be 820x312px, and on a phone it’ll be 640×360. You don’t even need to do math to realize that the scale is different.
So make sure the focus of the image you use is in the middle of the photo. You can see that it keeps the full wide content of the photograph on a phone, but it’s showing more above and below what it shows on a computer.
With G+, you can have personal pages and brand pages. I just want to point out that these guidelines appear to be the same in each.
Ideal: 120×120 px
Minimum: 70×70 px
The thing about Google Plus profile photos is that they crop into a circle when they display, so you can’t just throw up a square image and expect it to look the same.
You can see that you can’t rely on your square version to display well, and you can’t just shrink the square down to a smaller scale and have it work (that could actually make it worse).
The key is the circle, and you want to optimize that real estate.
The other thing to consider is that in the current version of Google Plus, most of the time when people see your profile, the image will be very small. Consider not using more than a couple letters of text in your Google Plus profile. If you can get away with just a logo, that’d probably be best.
Ideal: 1080×608 px
Minimum: 480×270 px
The cover photo is the wide banner at the top of your profile, and what shows up changes a whole lot depending on the size of your screen and whether or not you’re scrolling. The important thing to remember about your cover photo is that the subject should be in the middle third of the image.
Ideal size: 180×180 px
Minimum size: 110×110 px
Much like Google Plus, Instagram also crops your image to a circle. It is, however, much larger than the Google Plus image and as a result can support some text. You still have to watch out for the cropping, though.
Download the Instagram template
To help figure out the best positioning for your logo and any text, I’ve created an Instagram template to use in image editing software. See the bottom of this post for the tutorial.
There effectively doesn’t seem to be a minimum for either images, so it depends on how crisp you want your photo to be. The minimum sizes are what I’d recommend.
Ideal: 400×400 px
Minimum: 70×70 px
Linked In has some strict guidelines when it comes to profile images. For example, you can’t use a logo as your profile image. Basically, you just need to stick to using a headshot-type photo.
You don’t need a template here – just find a nice photo with your face mostly in the middle, and the tool will help you find the right crop. It doesn’t even have to be square, even though it’ll crop it to a squared circle for you.
Just for fun, I uploaded a tiny image as my profile pic, and it took it. So I don’t think it looks for a minimum.
Ideal: 1536×768 px
Minimum: 407×220 px
On page load, the background photo isn’t very large. It’s definitely not the ideal size that Linked In says it should be. But they do let you drag your image up and down until you get a good fit for the view.
Ideal: 170×170 px
Minimum: 75×75 px
Pinterest also crops to a circle, so you’ll follow the same principals that we looked at for Google Plus and Instagram. In fact, you can use the same image you create for your Instagram photo. Or if you don’t want Instagram but want Pinterest, you can use the same template to create it.
Download the Pinterest template
Ideal: 400×400 px
Minimum: 75×75 px
Twitter doesn’t have a minimum image size that I could find, but at a certain point it’s too small to be useful. I’d say that since they’re smallest display of the image is 75×75, that’s what you should use as minimum.
They slightly round their corners, but it shouldn’t mess up any of your text. The tool will also let you crop the image you upload if it’s not square.
Ideal: 1500×500 px
Minimum: 948×316 px
The minimum listed here is just the smallest the header image displays on a computer. The Twitter app probably shows it smaller, but it’ll likely scale it down. Be mindful not to use super small text in your Twitter header otherwise it’ll be hard to read on a phone.
How to use the templates
Ok, so now that you have your templates and logos, you’re ready to get started. You can do this with any image editing software that allows you to work with layers. If you don’t have something like Photoshop already, I highly recommend using Pixlr. It’s free, web-based, and totally rad. You don’t even need an account. I use it almost every day.
This tutorial will use Pixlr, and if you already have Photoshop, you probably know enough about how to use it to translate the steps. Just let me know if you need help with any of it.
The first thing you want to do is open the Pixlr Editor, not Express. It’ll ask you to open the file or create a new one. Since you downloaded the template, just select the option to open from your computer, and then navigate to the template to open it.
Now you should see a blank template: a white background with gray circle. The circle represents the visible portion of the profile image, so that’s the area we’re going to work with.
Next you’ll want to open your logo file in Pixlr so you can copy it into the template version. Choose File->Open Image, navigate to your logo file, and open it. You should see both images on the screen now.
If your logo is super huge, get it down to about 200 pixels wide. If you’ve got more than just the logo itself in the image (maybe banner text or something), use the crop tool to get down to just the logo. After that, if it’s still too big, select Image->Image size, and then resize it down so that the longest side is 200 pixels.
Once it’s a good size, you can use the selection tool to select an area around your logo. Then use the copy shortcut. Click over into the template and paste it in. If it’s too big, you can use the Free Transform option under Edit to scale it down into the size you need it. When you select Free Transform, you’ll see some dots around the corners and sides of the layer, so you hold down the shift key, click one of the corners and drag it to the right size (the shift key makes sure you scale it rather than skew it).
Ok, so now you should see the logo on top of the circle, and you will be able to move the layer with your image on it to where you’d like it to be over the circle. But how do you make sure it’s all inside the circle? I’ve found that changing the opacity of the logo layer lets me move things around pretty well.
To do that, you make sure you’ve selected the logo layer in the layers window, and then you click the slider icon. It’ll pull up some settings, and you will be able to move the opacity down so it becomes more or less transparent. Get it to a level that allows you to see both the logo you’re working with and the grey circle behind it.
Now you can make sure everything is positioned so that it will show up inside the circle, even if you have to add more text.
Once your stuff is there, you can change the opacity back to 100%. If you need to, like if your logo has a background color, you can select the original layer (double click the lock icon if it appears locked) and just paint the whole thing with the background color. Now, even though your image is a square, once you upload it to your social media account, it should crop perfectly inside the display circle.
Don’t have the time or desire to do this yourself?
No worries! I’m happy to do it for you. Just send me an email and we’ll chat!
If you found this post useful, would you mind sharing it with your internet entrepreneur friends? I’d love to be able to help them out too!
Am I missing your favorite social media channel? Please let me know in the comments!
If we want to post the same images on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (ideally at the same time), do you recommend making them all square? Do you think the square sizing is going to last?