Some of the most popular social media platforms are dedicated to photo and video content alone. But each place has a different purpose and requires you to format your photo and video content in a particular way.
I’m going to go over a bunch of popular platforms (Facebook, Instagram, IGTV, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, Reddit, YouTube) and tell you how to achieve the optimal photo and video dimensions for your content.
Get Started: Open the Kapwing Resize tool to format any picture, video, or GIF to the perfect dimensions in just a few clicks.
I’m going to be using Kapwing, which you can use on your computer, phone, or tablet without needing to download any programs. Here's the rundown:
Facebook provides so many ways to share content, so there are no easy rules for all posts. But there are a few important things to keep in mind! If you’re posting something to your page, for example, there are a few limits to work with. Facebook supports vertical photos, but if your photo is taller than 9:16, the bottom will be cropped. It’s safest to use photos between 16:9 and 9:16.
Videos, on the other hand, are supported in your main feed from 16:9 to 1:1. Anything taller will have automatic blur padding added to the sides, so your whole video will be visible. In Facebook Watch, though, all videos are padded to fit a 16:9 frame. The blur padding isn’t too distracting, but your videos will look much better if they’re between 16:9 and 1:1! And if you’d prefer solid-color padding, you can add your own and avoid the blurred bars that Facebook uses.
Instagram started supporting photos and videos between 1.91:1 (a bit wider than 16:9) and 9:16 in 2015, but there are still some things you should keep in mind. It can be a good idea to crop your wide content as much as possible, so it draws more attention. It might also help to add some top & bottom padding with a custom color or special design. If you can’t crop any of your content, this can be a good way to make your horizontal pictures and videos draw more attention.
Instagram Stories present completely new issues. Your stories should take up the entire screen, since they can only be viewed in full screen. But if you have any important information on the top or bottom of your story, you might want to crop it– Instagram stories are covered on the top and bottom by semi-transparent comment and timeline/account bars.
For IGTV, you’ll mostly need to keep the same things in mind that you did for IG stories. There are, however, some other things to consider. You might, for example, want the first section of your video to have a descriptive banner a bit under the top of the screen, since IGTV is often shown in a square form when it’s presented on the Explore page.
The main rule for posting videos on Twitter is that its dimensions should not be taller than a square. In the desktop website, twitter will add black bars to the sides of your video to make it a square, and in the mobile app, your video will be cropped to a square in the timeline.
For photos, your dimensions are even more important. Every image taller than 16:9 is cropped to that ratio. So if you want to post images that are 5:4, square, or vertical, you might want to crop them or add visual padding to the sides.
For Tweets with more than one photo, the displayed aspect ratios are different. For 2 photos, both images are 8:9; for 3 photos, the first photo is 8:9, while the second and third are 16:9; for 4 photos, all photos are 16:9 again.
Feeds in Pinterest are generally optimized for a 2:3 aspect ratio, and any pins taller than this may get cut off in people’s feeds. However, in the desktop website, images are only cut off if they’re taller than 1:2, so you can still optimize extra-tall content for desktop users.
Always keep in mind that the width of Pins is locked, regardless of app or platform, so it’s always best to use the tallest possible dimensions. The closer you are to 2:3 (or 1:2 on desktop), the more attention your pin can attract.
TikTok is the simplest of the major video sharing platforms, so the guidelines for optimizing your videos for TikTok couldn’t be easier. You should only use 9:16 videos (vertical phone recording size) to post on TikTok. Any other dimensions will waste space with added padding.
I would, however, recommend that you avoid keeping any important information or content on the very top or very bottom or right edge of your video, since captions and comment boxes are shown at the bottom and interaction options are placed on the right side. And video thumbnails are shown as 4:5 images, so if you want something to grab viewers’ attention, keep it away from both the top and bottom edges.
There are no dimension limits on Reddit, but there are some guidelines to keep in mind. In “Card” view, if your pictures are a bit taller than a square, Reddit will add side padding, up to a ratio of 16:9. If they’re taller than that, Reddit will add a “See Full Image” button and crop the bottom portion of your picture. So if you are using an extra tall picture, be sure to keep the most important and attention-grabbing parts near the top of your images.
For people using Reddit’s “classic” view, though, all images are cropped to 5:4. So it may be a good idea to make sure that all the most important parts of your picture are visible in a 5:4 frame.
YouTube makes things fairly easy for uploading videos of different dimensions, but there are still a few things you should keep in mind. The most important thing to remember is that all YouTube thumbnails are 16:9 images. Since you’re able to choose or upload any file you want for your thumbnail, make sure you’ve chosen a 16:9 picture, even if your video has completely different dimensions.
If you’re using an especially narrow or tall video, YouTube will generally add black padding to the sides. However, if you’re using a vertical 9:16 video, you should keep in mind that YouTube will crop it on the top and bottom to 4:5 when viewed regularly in the mobile app. So if your 9:16 video contains anything especially important or eye-catching on the very top or bottom, make sure you add some padding around your video.
How to Change Your Photo and Video Dimensions
Once you’ve found what you need to do to optimize your photo or video to share in social media, head over to Kapwing.com and click the Start Editing button to go to the Kapwing Studio. To upload your content, either paste a link to your photo or video, or click Upload and find it in your file browser.
With the image or video not selected, start by choosing the aspect ratio you want from the menu on the right side of the Studio. This will allow you to automatically crop your photo or video to the most common aspect ratios. If you want to resize your content to custom dimensions, use the “Expand Padding” tools just below the aspect ratios.
Or, with the image or video selected, you can click “crop” from the menu. This will allow you to choose among the most useful aspect ratios, just like the resizer. If you want more customization, you can click & drag in the cropping window until your content looks perfect.
You can always add or remove your background padding by deselecting all layers and using the tools in the menu on the right-hand side of your screen! You can also change the color of your background padding to anything you’d like. Black and white are the most common options, but a custom color can make your content stand out!
Once you’re done adjusting the dimensions of your content, click the Export button in the top right corner of the screen, and your content will be ready to download in just a few moments. When it’s finished processing, choose Download from the right side of the screen.
If you're not signed into a Kapwing account, sign in or sign up using your Google or Facebook account – once you've signed into a Kapwing account, the watermark in the lower right corner will be removed from your final image.
Remember to tag us @KapwingApp whenever you share your content on social media– we love to see what our creators are passionate about! And if you're interested in more tips and tutorials on creating social media content in 2021, check out the Kapwing YouTube channel, where we post multiple new videos every week.