Your Quick and Easy Cheat Sheet for Facebook Link Previews

Alright, guys – you asked for it, and I’m answering!

Ever since I wrote this post about the types of social updates Facebook is cracking down on, I’ve been getting AWESOME feedback and questions from all of you out there in Internet Land. On the blog, on social, in emails – I’m still getting tons of questions on the reg about how to make sense of Facebook’s link previews and photo posts and whatnot.

I figured it was high time to deliver a mini refresher course on how/why Facebook displays images the way that it does, so you know exactly what your updates are gonna look like BEFORE you hit the “Post” button. So let’s get down to it!

Link Previews

You probably remember that in this post, I talked about how Facebook algorithms are favoring updates with link previews in them over photo updates with URLs in the captions.

To recap, a link preview is that little box that automatically generates when you copy/paste a link into a status update. It looks like this after you publish it:

Facebook Link Preview

It’s a lot more dynamic than a plain ol’ update with a URL in it – it’s got a big, bold picture, it shows the headline/title from the page, and it even includes the first sentence or two as a little teaser. So far, so good!

Only the thing is, they don’t always look like this – and there’s a reason for that.

Sometimes when you share a link, you get a preview that looks like THIS:

Facebook Link Preview Thumbnail

Still cool and all, and even has all the same information, but you’ve gotta admit that the smaller image isn’t QUITE as eye-catching, right?

So what gives?

It’s all comes down to the original size of the image you choose – so here’s what you need to know.

To get a link preview with the big, awesome-looking image, you need an image that is at least 600×315 pixels. Any smaller than that, and it’s going to be the itty bitty thumbnail version.

According to Facebook, for the best results, your image should be at least 1200×630 pixels. Either way, Facebook’s going to shrink it down a little – it ends up displaying at about 484×252.

And do NOT forget your aspect ratios! (You know, the difference between the width and the height.) Keep it as close as possible to 1.91:1, or else it doesn’t fit the horizontal orientation Facebook uses. (Basically, a picture that’s 600×315 works, but one that’s 315×600 does NOT.)

Facebook Link Preview Aspect Ratio

Even though Facebook has come out and said that they prefer showing link previews with images over images with URL captions (seriously, they did), there are still gonna be plenty of times when you want to share images anyway – and the rules for THOSE are different from the rules for link previews. (I know, I know. They like to make things complicated.)

So, what’s different, exactly?

Image Updates

Hey, nobody is saying you should stop posting image updates altogether. That would be CRAZY TALK. I still post images on Facebook allllll the time! Like this one:

Facebook Photo Update

(I’m so jealous of the me in that picture right now, btw.)

When it comes to sharing photos, there are three numbers you need to know.

First of all, to get the best results on high res screens and such (hellooooo, retina display), you should try to upload pics at 1200 pixels wide or so.

Second, when that image is on your Facebook page, it’s gonna display at around 504 pixels wide or so. (The height varies.)

Third, when that image is in someone’s news feed, it’s gonna display a teensy bit smaller – somewhere in the neighborhood of 470 pixels.

And that all means what, exactly?

Basically, just remember that while the images you share on Facebook should be nice and big when you upload them, Facebook shrinks ‘em down for the feed, so you’re gonna lose some detail. If your image is chock full of teeny tiny text, for example, it might look great at full size, and become illegible once it’s actually displayed in someone’s feed. (My advice? After you finish rendering your image, try shrinking it down yourself as a test to see what it will look like on Facebook.)

Bonus Round: Don’t Forget Your Profile

While we’re on the subject of images on Facebook, we may as well brush up on the ones associated with your profile. No time like the present, right?

First, the header image:

Facebook Header Image Dimensions

Those are the dimensions you’re working with! It can be smaller – as small as 399×150, to be specific – but Facebook’s gonna streeeeetch it out to fit, so it might not look so nice. And do NOT forget the Like, Follow, and Share boxes in there, or the profile pic that obscures the left side! You don’t want any vital information in your header image to get covered up!

Speaking of your profile pic:

Facebook Profile Picture Dimensions

Two important things to remember here. First, your profile pic displays at 160×160 at the largest, but should be uploaded at about 180×180 for the best, most prettyful high res results.

Second, the only place where it displays that large is actually on your Facebook page! It’s considerably smaller in the newsfeed – the profile pic that displays next to your comments on a status update, for example, is only 32×32 pixels. That’s as small as it gets, but still, that’s pretty darn small – so make sure whatever is in that picture is still legible at a teeny tiny size! I’ve seen lots of profile pics that look great at 160×160, but at 32×32, look like a smudge.

And Boom! Now You Know!

This is the part where the star that says “The More You Know” goes flying by. It’s a quick lesson, sure, and YES, I know that the number-heavy ones aren’t a lot of fun. Buuuuut, now that you know exactly how to make your images on Facebook look super gorgeous, you can make sure that you’re posting the kinds of updates and links that capture your followers’ attention for all the right reasons (with NO guesswork)!