Updated as of May 11, 2012:
This article has been updated to reflect the recent change to the profile image sizes on Facebook. Take a look at the DGdesign example to see how the changes could affect your page.
Got a Facebook Page for your business?
Freaking out about creating a good-looking cover photo for your Timeline?
You’ve probably noticed that striking visual piece in the Facebook Pages timeline layout — a nearly-screen-width banner image, known as a “Cover.”
On March 30, 2012, all Facebook Pages were converted to the timeline layout with the cover photo.
But you may have noticed that not every cover image is a home run …
This how-to guide is designed to help Facebook Pages create a cover image that looks professional, makes a great first impression, and markets your brand’s best assets — without violating the Facebook Pages Terms.
While Facebook allows Page admins to simply choose a photo from an existing photo album, doing this is probably not going to give you a professional-looking image that makes your business look terrific.
Chances are that your existing photos were not composed to take advantage of the unusual shape of a Facebook cover photo. You’re also missing out on the opportunity to combine multiple photos and text into a full page banner image.
1. Follow the new Facebook Pages Terms for cover photos
When Facebook announced Timeline for Pages on Feb. 29, 2012, they also updated their Facebook Pages Terms with new guidelines for cover photos.
These rules are directly aimed at deterring
effective marketing a few techniques that are still being used on some Facebook Pages. Specifically, a Page’s cover photo may not:
- Encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines,
- Include price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on YourURL.com,”
- Include contact information, like your website address, email, mailing address, or information that Facebook wants you to put in your Page’s “About” section,
- Include references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features,
- Include calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”
And of course, “covers can’t be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else’s copyright.”
In other words, Facebook wants your Page cover photo to be an eye-catching photograph, not an advertisement or wordy graphic.
2. Design to fit the correct size and shape
The Facebook cover photo is not a common image size, and the rectangular composition includes a cut-out for your profile icon in the lower left corner.
This means the best-looking cover photos tend to be images that are designed to take advantage of the cover photo’s exact size and shape.
- Official Facebook cover photo size: 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall
- Official minimum image dimension: 720 pixels wide
- Profile icon cut-out:
133168 pixels wide by 74103 pixels tall, spaced 24 pixels from the left edge of the cover photo
- Profile icon size: 160 x 160 pixels, with a minimum image upload size of 180 x 180 pixels
- Facebook will overlay a 1-pixel transparent gray border on top of your image.
- If you upload an image smaller than 851 x 315, it will be stretched to fit. This will make your image quality appear slightly grainy or distorted. The best practice is to upload an image that’s sized to Facebook’s dimensions.
- Screenshot measurements reveal that only 314 pixels are displayed from a 315-pixel image upload. The top edge appears to be covered by the Facebook header bar. A test with a 314-pixel tall image became distorted when uploaded, so do upload a 315-pixel tall image even though only the bottom 314 pixels will be displayed.
3. Decide what text to include, or not
Although the Facebook Pages Terms state that you cannot include contact information, calls to action, discounts, or price information, Facebook left the door open for businesses to include other attention-grabbing copy and fine print, for example:
- Company tagline or short phrase that explains what your business does
- An impactful word that embodies your brand
- Inspiring quote
- Names of people in your photo
- Photographer credits
- Image copyrights
4. Select quality images
Images are a powerful way to create an emotional state, so your Page’s cover photo should embody the essence of your brand.
Use high-quality photographs that are in focus, have balanced color and good lighting, or use photo editing software to optimize your images. You can design an image collage or use one big, beautiful photograph — just keep the cover photo shape in mind when setting up your composition.
Your company logo should appear somewhere, usually in your profile icon, in which case it is not needed as an extra graphic in your cover photo. If you plan to include text, consider its placement when selecting images.
Here are a few image content ideas suitable for brands:
- Candid photos of customers enjoying your products (be sure to get permission to use their likeness)
- Your most popular products
- Icons of awards won
- Employees in action
- Company founders
- Store interior or exterior
- Branded vector graphic
5. Upload your image
The hard part is done; uploading is easy!
- Log into your Facebook Page admin account.
- If you haven’t yet converted your Page to Facebook timeline, click the “Preview” button, then click the “Add a Cover” button.
- If you are replacing an existing cover photo, mouse over your cover photo so that the “Change Cover” button appears in the lower right corner; click it.
- Select “Upload Photo,” find the image file on your computer, then click the “Save Changes” button.
- Then click on the photo to add a caption, tags, and location information.
Now show off your cover photo design! We’d like to see what you came up with after following these steps. Post your Facebook Page link in the comments.
About the Author: Danielle Glick is the Social Media Director & President of DGdesign, a social media agency that helps brands meet their business goals via strategic marketing. Connect with Danielle on Twitter @SocialMediaDFW.