What Picture Format Is Good for Instagram?

By John Arkontaky

Photographs are powerful allies for businesses, especially when shared on social networks.
i Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Instagram welcomes businesses to use its photo-sharing social network as a marketing tool. Sharing photos of your company’s products, staff and even clients can help build your brand. Through smart, engaging Instagram activity you can show off your company’s personality and illustrate its impact on the world through a montage of still images and Instagram’s trademark filters. Before sharing every photo in your company’s gallery you’ll need to understand the basic rule set for Instagram-approved images.

Supported File Types

While there are many image file types, only two files types pass through Instagram’s filters. The first is the JPEG file type, which can support high resolutions while remaining a relatively small file size. The downside to a JPEG is that you can’t increase its size without degrading quality. The second file type, PNG, also supports high-res photos. They're typically a larger file size than JPEG, however. This file type is often used for website images because it supports transparency, but it also makes solid Instagram photos.

Image Sizes

When posting photos, make sure they fall between Instagram’s supported resolution range so the images don’t look fuzzy or cut off. The maximum image resolution of 2,048 by 2,048 pixels gives you a pretty high ceiling for images. On the other end of the spectrum, 510 by 510 pixels is the standard resolution for Instagram’s Photo Feed, so you don't dip too far below that.

Image Limitations

With Facebook integration and a desktop client, you would think that you could post to your Instagram profile from a computer. But, Instagram remains a mobile-focused social network. All photos come through the mobile app for iOS, Android and BlackBerry. You can post images to your Instagram profile from either Instagram’s built-in camera or by uploading shots from your smartphone’s camera app. Photos from the native camera on your phone won’t only deprive you of Instagram filters, they'll convert images to a 612-by-612 resolution if the picture was a higher resolution.

Add Effects and Hashtags

Beyond taking a great photo, Instagram offers features that can augment shots for your profile. Instagram’s filters, for example, are a staple that you’ll see all over the social network. Among other effects, filters can saturate or mute colors and instantly convert images into classic black-and-white stills. Hashtags can be a useful tool for your marketing campaigns and increasing brand exposure, as you can prescribe a hashtag in a photo’s caption, making that image searchable from Instagram’s search engine.