Making the most of your Facebook page profile picture
By: Keith Heustis
Facebook hasn’t always made it easy to figure out what size is best to use for a profile picture or how to control what your Facebook thumbnail looks like in news feeds and other areas of the site.
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Some of that is changing and Facebook has made it easier to manage profile pictures, but for many Facebook users there is still some mystery involved in how to take full advantage of the options that Facebook offers. In this post I hope to dispel some of those mysteries.
Getting the right Size:
Let’s start off with some of the basic specs that Facebook provides. Facebook recommends that profile pics should be a maximum of 200px wide, while height can vary as needed with a maximum height of 600px allowed. Lets see what this looks like in practice. Below are three examples of different Facebook page profile pictures that utilize the full width of the Facebook specs, but have varying heights.
As you can see by utilizing the varying degrees of height there is a lot of room to creatively utilize the space of a Facebook profile picture. I am often surprised at the amount of businesses that fail to utilize this space.
Understanding How Facebook Crops Images:
Perhaps part of the reason that many pages don’t utilize the full depth is due to the extreme measure which Facebook will crop the profile image. This has forced many users to format their profile picture so that it is square and doesn’t get cropped in strange ways. Left unchanged Facebook will take a long image and crop it automatically smack dab in the middle of your profile picture to create a 50px by 50px thumbnail. The resulting image taken from our examples above would look like these below:
Default thumbnail cropping
As you can see these thumbnails are confusing to look at. I could never guess who or what these organizations are in a news feed or on someone’s wall. So how do we fix this? Let’s start by understanding exactly how Facebook works when it comes to cropping your profile picture. On an image that is 200px wide Facebook will utilize a 15px margin on either side before cropping, so when making a profile picture keep this in mind. An easy way to visualize how Facebook will crop your image is to simply use your image editing program of choice, in my case Photoshop, to create a 170px square semi-transparent box over your 200px wide image to see how much space you have to work with. Keep it centered on the profile image and you’ll see exactly how your thumbnail will look.
Cropping your picture in Facebook
Now for the part that most people don’t know about. Facebook actually allows you to change the position of the cropping area on your image. This was only just recently made much easier, so there’s no excuse to not take full advantage of this feature
Step 1. To see how this works simply go to your Facebook page and click the edit icon located in the upper right corner of your Facebook profile image. From the drop down menu that appears choose “Edit Thumbnail”.
Step 2. A dialog box will open allowing you to simply drag your image up and down and slightly side to side so that you can properly crop your profile image.
Hopefully this little tutorial has given you some new insight on how to better utilize your Facebook profile image. From now on it may be helpful to think of your profile image as a banner ad. Using it to promote events, special offers, etc. are all great ways to effectively use this valuable space. As you design your new profile picture keep Facebook’s cropping specs in mind from the get go and make sure part of your image - preferably your logo - can be fully represented in the cropping scheme. As you can see below all of the thumbnails from our examples are now fully recognizable and carry a strong brand presence. Applying these ideas to your profile picture will allow you to have an advantage visually on crowded news feeds, walls and other important areas of Facebook.
Custom thumbnail cropping
If you’d like some help getting your Facebook profile picture freshened up or would like some advice on other ways to improve you social media efforts feel free to contact us we’d love to help!
Facebook recently changed the maximum dimensions that are allowed for profile images. At the time of writing these dimensions where 200px wide by 600px high, however the new numbers are slightly smaller: 180px wide by 540px high. Please take these new dimensions into consideration when you design your profile image. Also keep in mind that from now on Facebook does not allow images that are more than three times as tall as they are wide. I hope that makes sense to everyone. Also a special thanks to Kathy Burckhardt for making these discoveries and sharing them in the comments below.
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