Choosing your social media profile photos is an important task. They represent the physical you in the online world, while providing an all-important first impression to anyone viewing your profile.
In order to make the most of the available space, we took a look at how you can optimize your avatars and cover photos on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+.
Read our guidelines below, which include the optimum sizes for imagery across all sites, and some handy tips and tricks to bear in mind when choosing the right photographs.
Facebook profile photos are cropped square, so we advise you to use an image that is already in this ratio — that way, you can avoid hastily cropping it right after you upload it. Profile pics are displayed at 160 x 160 pixels, but the image you upload must have minimum measurements of 180 x 180 pixels.
Cover photos come in at 851 x 315 pixels. While the minimum size is 399 x 150 pixels, images that are smaller than the optimum dimensions will get stretched and look awful.
Your profile photo is the one that’s seen most around the site (next to posts, comments, etc.), so it’s important that your choice works well as a small, standalone image. However, if you want to get creative by making your profile pic and cover image work together, note that your profile image displays 23 pixels from the left side and 210 pixels from the top of your cover photo.
If you’re all about fast load times, it’s worth noting that Facebook recommends your cover photo be an sRGB JPG file that’s 851 pixels wide, 315 pixels tall and less than 100KB. If your image is logo- or text-based, then Facebook suggests using a PNG file to get higher quality results.
Twitter displays profile photos really small, so it’s important to choose an image that works in miniature. Twitter also uses square profile pics, so be sure to scale yours appropriately before you upload it.
While the maximum file size for a Twitter avatar is 2MB, it will show only as 73 x 73 pixels on your profile page and a teeny 48 x 48 pixels in tweets.
However, if people click through to your profile and then click on your avatar, it will show up larger (as it will in some Twitter clients), so it’s worth uploading an image that will display bigger than the small, default sizes.
Twitter header photos can be up to 5MB in size. The recommended dimensions for these images are 1252 x 626 pixels. Bear in mind your Twitter account name, handle, bio, location and URL will all appear over your header image, so you need to consider choosing a photo that will work behind text and will not obscure the text.
Photos are a bit different on Google+, where the network crops profile photos as circles. You’ll need to consider what kind of image will work in a round format.
Your avatar is displayed 120 x 120 pixels on your profile, but not all of that will show up due to the round crop. With images showing up as small as 48 x 48 pixels in posts and just 28 x 28 in comments and other activity, this is another example of needing to choose a pic that will work well on a small scale.
The Google+ cover, or feature photo, is a tricky one, as it dynamically resizes depending on screen area. As far as measurements go, the minimum size is 480 x 270 pixels, and the recommended size is 960 x 540 pixels, but if you want your image to look good on large or retina displays, you’ll want to upload a photo that’s 2120 x 1192 pixels.
However, keep in mind that unless anyone takes the time to scroll up on the default desktop view, there is only a small area of the cover photo that will be seen on your profile — the very bottom.
Since Google linked Google+ page identities with YouTube, your YouTube “channel icon,” or avatar, is linked to your Google+ profile photo.
YouTube offers detailed information on how to optimize your other channel imagery though, including downloadable templates to help.
Similar to Google+, your cover photo, or “channel art” as YouTube calls it, will auto-rescale to fit the size of screen on which you’re viewing a video. In order to get “optimal results on all devices,” YouTube recommends uploading a 2560 x 1440 pixel image (including a “safe area”).
The minimum display size for channel art is 1546 x 423 pixels, so you can be sure nothing within this area, such as text and logos, will be cut off.
As a professional social networking site, LinkedIn has some official guidelines as to what kind of photo you can use. The site states that “a photo can be removed by LinkedIn if your profile image is not your likeness or a headshot photo,” so it’s best to stick to the basics.
With a max file size of 4MB, you can upload a square JPG, GIF or PNG. The default size for a LinkedIn avatar on your profile page is 200 x 200 pixels, but users can click to enlarge the image up to 450 x 450 pixels.
Company pages are a little different. The standard company logo displayed on LinkedIn pages is 100 x 60 pixels, and the square logo is 50 by 50 pixels. You can also upload a homepage cover photo-style image to a company page. The minimum recommended size is 646 x 220 pixels.
Image: Flickr, baldiri