Visual Strategy — Cropping for Instagram
To answer the question, we have three tips you can apply or consider for your own social strategy.
1. Non-Square Can Work
Plenty of successful accounts out there use non-square photos and mix aspect ratios. Our friend @kevinruss is a great example of this.
The easy answer is no. Non-square photos do not seem to significantly affect engagement since dozens of the top Instagrammers post cropped images.
2. Consistency Makes the Difference
The best accounts pick a style and stick to it. Whether always sharing in landscape orientation or consistently mix aspect ratios, make sure you stay consistent with what you do.
The key is to think about how people see your photos as a group when they visit your profile. Make sure you curate your profile’s aesthetic carefully. When someone views your account, they’re evaluating based on the images you’ve posted in the past if they’d like to see more of what you share in the future. Ultimately you want them to want to click “Follow.”
3. Square May Be Better
The official stance from Instagram is to mandate true square (1:1) photos for any ad that runs on the platform.
Instagram tends to be highly calculated and sensitive to delivering the very best experience for its users, so it is possible they have statistical evidence to back up this requirement.
This is our point-of-view on the matter and we've yet to come across a dedicated study on the effect of different aspect ratios on engagement at scale.
If you're reading this and happen to work for a social analytics company that would like to partner on a study, please get in touch.
Written by @jakeszy, Senior Strategist