Instagram was one of the first photo sharing apps available, and now there are several more - from Snapchat to VSCO and even video specific like Vine. Instead of listing every single one of them, I'm going to share what I know about the big three: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The first thing to know is that these social media channels like your photos better when you upload them natively...meaning, you upload them to the sites directly through their app service. If you use a sharing function on Instagram, for example, it will post to Instagram natively, then repost to Facebook or Twitter for you (those do not end up being native posts). There are several other sites like Buffer, which helps you manage your social story by auto posting them for you at a time you pick, which helps you avoid the time crunch of posting to every channel one at a time!
And, to make it even more complicated, the size and dimensions of your photos matter! Yes, that's right, sharing a photo to one social media channel doesn't mean it will look the best or show up the same on another. For example: Instagram started out with the square crop. Only recently did they enable users to adjust to original dimensions. When you upload to Twitter and Facebook, certain dimensions show up better. And, even the pixel dimensions matter - you'll need to pay attention to the preset dimensions those sites use otherwise you'll be stuck with an auto crop situation and your photo may not look as good as it does on your phone or computer at home.
Here are the dimensions and recommendations as of June 2017 - note that these change, and may be outdated within 6 months:
Facebook: Cover photo - 828x315 pixels tall, Profile photo – Cropped square to fit 180x180 pixels.
Facebook: Photo posts - Landscape works well, recommended photo dimensions are 1200 pixels wide at a high resolution and you can decided how tall to crop it (suggested 1MB file size).
Twitter: Profile photo – 400x400 pixels, cropped as a square. The Banner/Cover photos are 1500x500 pixels.
Twitter: Photo Posts – 440x220 pixels, a landscape crop will show up best.
So, for both Facebook and Twitter, a landscape works the best. To avoid having to format the precise pixel dimensions, just keep the landscape orientation in mind when you're selecting photos to share - and make sure they're close to 2MB in size for best results.
Instagram: Profile photo – 110x110 pixels, cropped as a square.
Instagram: Photo Posts – 1080x1080 pixels, this is the largest size recommended. Instagram will let you crop it, and they will scale it smaller for phones and viewing on tablets, etc. Again, these specific dimensions can be followed precisely, or you can keep in mind that a photo as a square will work more easily. If you're photographing in portrait or landscape orientation, then just keep the idea in mind that you might want to crop it square later in the app.
Whew! I know that's a lot of technical information, but I hope it helps as you get social, and try to use the best photos for your business. If you still have questions, please do leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to find the answer.