A picture may be worth a thousand words, but embedding one in a tweet only costs you 23 of your 140 characters. So with limited space to work with on social networks, it’s no wonder that many digital marketers have found success using images to accompany their tweets and status updates.
A lot has changed since this post came out—read Garrett’s updated One Image to Rule Them All here!
Indeed, Twitter’s data scientist Douglas Mason concluded that tweets containing photos from verified accounts result in a 35 percent increase in the number of retweets. A similar boost is seen across the social landscape — photos make a huge difference.
But it’s important to make sure the images are sized appropriately for social networks. Consider this image:
Because of how Twitter automatically crops the image, it shows up in people’s feeds like this:
Worse, each social network seems to have its own suggested image size — creating difficulties for the hobbyist blogger as well as for the large corporation. For example, here are the different size requirements for the properties I most often post on behalf of Rackspace:
- Twitter has a 2:1 ratio and suggests a 1024 x 512 pixel image (although the 2:1 ratio is not quite accurate on Twitter’s iOS mobile app; images are cropped more significantly on the left and right borders and are displayed at a 1.75:1 ratio)
- Facebook suggests a 1200 x 630 pixel image
- Google+ seems to post images at 345 x 195 pixels
- LinkedIn posts a thumbnail sized image at 180 x 110 pixels
Creating unique images for each platform causes a strain on resources.
After transitioning from a content role to the social marketing team, I was determined to simplify the image creation process. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were one guideline, one image to rule them all? An image that could be created once but would look sharp on all of the social networks we post to?
I dusted off my HP-32SII and ninth-grade knowledge of ratios (the whole cross-multiply and divide thing) as I set forth to determine this standard image size. One thing that worked in my favor is that each of these social networks prefers a landscape image — and since Rackspace is not currently active on Instagram (square) or Pinterest (portrait), my job was considerably easier.
After crunching the numbers, I discovered the following universal image size: 1600 pixels wide by 800 pixels high with a 160-pixel “padding” on the left and right margins. Below is a blueprint for that image:
You’ll notice that the width to height ratio is 2:1, but what’s key is the “padding” on the left and right. When I say padding, I don’t mean you should create a white border — that would make your image look silly. Instead, the padding is made up of nonessential elements of your graphic or image.
For example, in the above illustration, the important elements are the text, King Kong, Tower of Sauron, Enterprise and the Death Star. We want these elements to be inside that 160-pixel padding line on the outside edges. The nonessential elements — like the helicopters and the continuation of the skyline — are able to occupy this space because it won’t impact the message if these elements are cropped on different social sites.
Check out how this particular image looks across the four social platforms where we typically post.
So if you find yourself producing digital content that needs the support of strong images, don’t let the different image sizes for each platform drive you crazy. If you focus on posting to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, be sure to use this sizing strategy for creating one image to rule them all.
Learn more about expanding your digital reach with Rackspace Digital — the digital marketing hosting specialists.