Let’s Talk About Your Facebook Cover Photo

Published on September 28, 2016

Images are overwhelmingly important on social media. Visually appealing, platform-optimized photos, illustrations, and graphics can work wonders for your brand’s social presence – not only do they allow you to customize and guide the audience experience on your pages, but making use of high quality images has been proven to increase engagement, retention, and conversions.

And while you may be distracted by the rise of visual-first platforms like Snapchat or Instagram, there’s one foundational social media picture it’s time to look at with fresh eyes: Your Facebook cover photo.

This “above-the-fold” picture is vital for making a first impression and encouraging users to engage with your page. Ready to really put your cover photo to work? Here are seven do’s and don'ts for getting the most out of your Facebook cover image:

1.) Get the Size Right

Don’t let your photo become stretched or distorted – instead, plan ahead to make sure the size is optimized for Facebook’s best practices. The company advises dimensions of 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels high for desktop, and 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels high for mobile. Make sure focus of the image is in the center 640 pixels east to west and 315 north to south.

2.) Don’t Rely on Text

Facebook famously had what marketers called the “20% text” rule – a written rule that only 20% of your cover photo could be text. And while Facebook is still going to enforce text restrictions for other images, like ads, cover photos are exempt from the “20% rule,” which may save a lot of stress, hassle, and cropping for your design team.

With that said, though, don’t weigh down your cover photo with too much text. Be strategic and concise with your written messaging; instead, put the emphasis on having a striking and appealing image, which will boost engagement more than a wall of text.

3.) Have a Clear Focal Point

When it comes time to choose your image, don’t just opt for flash or spectacle – think strategically! A clean, easy-to-decipher image with an obvious focal point will serve you much better than a busy or unfocused picture. Try to find an image that includes just one subject as a focal point, and don’t be afraid of making use of negative space.

As for where that focal point should be located? Centrally-located images can play well, but right-justified foci tend to work even better on Facebook, as they balance the left-justified profile picture, making for even spacing and an easier-to-scan image. (Just make sure your focal point doesn't get cut off on the narrower mobile aspect ratio.)

4.) Don’t Hide Anything Important!

Keeping your focal point to the right also helps prevent important information from being obscured by your profile picture. Don’t put any vital imagery or text in an area where you think it may be covered by built-in buttons or your profile picture (which is situated about 16 pixels from the left edge of the cover photo, according to Facebook). Similarly, don’t put important information along the bottom edge of your cover photo area, where it may be obstructed by your call to action buttons; instead, focus on placing your most important elements above the halfway line of your cover field.

5.) Integrate Your Cover With Other Page Elements

Of course, for the highly visually-inclined, these page elements don’t need to be obstructions or distractions, but opportunities. Get creative and think about the ways that you can integrate your cover photo with other page elements – make your profile picture fit in seamlessly with your cover, like two parts of the same image. You can also use your image to call attention to your bottom right call to action buttons, or, as Hubspot suggests, you can “pin” a post to the top of your Facebook page, the better to reinforce your visual messaging and encourage clicks.

6.) Remember Mobile Users!

As we mentioned earlier, Facebook automatically readjusts cover photo dimensions on mobile – which is huge, since this may be the way that more than 50% of the platform’s user base finds your page. Bear this in mind when you start designing; if you’re going to integrate your profile picture and cover photo, for instance, you’ll need to think hard about whether it’s more important for your layout to be desktop- or mobile-optimized. Test your image on both mobile and desktop devices before you make your final call – don’t let the transition between devices cut off your beautiful work!

7.) Make Use of Your Description

And don’t forget, your cover photo is a link; don’t let users click on it to find an empty description box. Instead, turn your description into another chance to foster engagement and conversions: Write a brief call to action message, complete with a link to your site.

Looking for a team with a wide array of design experience? Want to try out some fresh social media ideas? That’s where Geek comes in! Drop us a line today to get the conversation going.

Stay up today on the latest Tech and Digital Marketing Trends with our newsletter.