Images are important on Social Media, and especially on Twitter. Whether it is your profile photo, your header image, or a photo you are including within a tweet, you want to make sure that your photo is formatted and cropped properly, that you have the rights to use the photo, and that the photo represents your brand appropriately.

Any of these mistakes, though they may seem inconsequential, can have a much more negative effect than you’d think. If you’re sloppy with your images, people will assume, whether true or not, that your business is sloppy. The good news is that you don’t have to be a social media ninja to correct these mistakes.

Twitter Photo Formatting and Cropping Mistakes:
You can’t simply upload any photo you’d like and hope that it formats correctly. There are countless Twitter profiles with profile pictures in which only part of the logo or face is visible or a significant amount of the image is cropped out. It is also common to see header images that look distorted. These mistakes can be fixed by knowing the proper photo dimensions, and by using tools to help easily format and properly crop. Here are the photo dimensions you need to know.

Twitter Photo Dimensions:
*Note: these are the correct dimensions as of 2/7/16 and may vary if you’re reading this at a later date.

Twitter Profile Photo:
400 x 400 pixels.
Acceptable file formats are: JPG, PNG and non-animated GIFs. 400×400 pixels.
Twitter Header Image:
1500px x 500px.
Image within Tweet:
Photos can be up to 5MB; animated GIFs can be up to 3MB.
Acceptable file formats are: GIF, JPEG, and PNG files.
Photo will be automatically scaled for display in your expanded Tweet and in your user gallery.
I always recommend viewing your uploaded photo immediately after uploading it to ensure it looks how you’d like it to. If you are having issues formatting the photo correctly, or if you need to crop the image, the tool I suggest is Canva.com. It is free. It has templates for the correct sizes and you can easily resize and crop photos.

The Mistake of Using an Image You Don’t Have the Rights to Use:
Photo theft and copyright infringement are a big problem online. You may not think anything is wrong with just grabbing a photo from a Google Image Search and using it on Twitter, but if you do not have the rights to use the photo, you are stealing the photo. While most photo theft and copyright infringement do go unnoticed, people face charges for these crimes every day and the penalties often come with very large fines and in some cases can involve jail time. If you’re a business, the fines can be especially severe because in some cases it can be argued you’re using the stolen image to profit. Don’t take the chance.

How to Ensure You Have the Rights to Use the Photo:
Rule #1: If you aren’t sure if you have the rights to the photo – don’t use the image.
Take and use your own photos.
Use a Stock Image Website.
There are several great ones. Some are free. Two of the most popular are istockphoto.com and shutterstock.com.
Ask for permission
Ask the photographer or the website where you found the image for permission to use the image. Most people will have no issue with allowing you to use the photo. Some may ask you to appropriately credit them for the image. Occasionally, people will ask you not to use the image.
Avoid using other peoples’ meme’s, photos of celebrities, or well known photos. Again, you may not have the rights to use these photos, and the fact that they may have been used by millions of other people does not give you the legal right to use the image. You could still face penalties. Revert to Rule #1.
The Mistake of Using Images that Don’t Represent Your Business Well:
This is subjective. You know best how you’d like to have your business represented. Make sure all images you use represent your business well. A poorly cropped photo; a blurry photo; an inappropriate photo; an image you don’t have the rights to use. All of these types of images will represent you poorly. Here are a few additional tips to help ensure you represent your business well with the images you use on Twitter.

If you’re a business, your profile photo should always be your logo.
If you are an individual or a solopreneur, your image should either be a logo or a professional photo of yourself.
Do not include others in your profile photo.
Photos that clearly show your face, eyes, and in which you are smiling will work best.
Limit changing your profile photo to no more than twice per year. Your header image is one in which you can play around with any change more frequently.
Be aware that when you retweet someone else’s tweet that has an image attached, that image will also show in your retweet within your Twitter timeline. So be careful what you retweet as users will associate that image with you.
Images are GREAT tools on social media and especially on Twitter. People will identify you by your logo or profile photo. Your Twitter header image can be a great branding tool. Tweets with images included get significantly more engagement. However, make sure you’re using images properly; format and crop correctly, and make sure you have the rights to the image and that the image represents your brand well. Most importantly, slow down and be patient. Take a moment to pause, take a look at the image you’re about to use, and make sure that it meets all the guidelines listed in this article.