What Should Your Facebook Timeline Cover Image Look Like?


Quick interactive activity. Raise your hand if you read that you’d have to change your Facebook page to the new Timeline layout and you secretly wanted to smack Mark Zuckerberg. *Raises hand*

When Timeline rolled out for user accounts, I actually rushed to get a sneak peek. But when it came to Timeline for business pages, there’s a lot more at stake. But once I rolled it out on a live Facebook page, I realized something. Finally, I can establish a real Facebook BRAND.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pain in the patootie, but it allows for a whole new set of opportunities for brands to get creative about how they talk to their fans. I also think that it makes brands really think about how to be “human” with their fans, which is what we social media freaks preach about all the time. In this new format, a brand has to take on humanoid qualities to succeed.

The most important branding activity with the new Timeline feature is the cover image. For the bigger brands, that had advanced notice and time to get ready for the Timeline switch, I’ve seen cover images that run the gamut. Some are illustrations, some are photos, some are really a big billboard ad.

I would argue, for smaller brands coming on board, that you use this opportunity to connect with your fans. Thus, I suggest you use a photo for your cover image.

First, it humanizes your brand a bit more. Everyone has snapshots on Facebook, right? Second, it doesn’t require a graphic design genius (though I do appreciate a good graphic design genius.) It just requires a bit of thinking. “What photo could I post that would best portray what this business stands for in 2 seconds?” Think of it as a photographic elevator pitch.

If you don’t have a photo, go out with your camera and shoot one. If you have the budget, hire a photographer. Better yet, make a collage of photos for your cover image. However, as you’re choosing a photo, remember the (fairly cumbersome) dimensions of the cover image on Facebook – 851×315 – so a vertical-oriented image isn’t going to work in that space.

Also remember that Facebook has set parameters around what you can’t do in the cover image. You can’t ask for “likes” or “shares,” you can’t have pricing information, no company info like Web site address or street address (there are other places for that info.) With these restrictions, Facebook is saying to you – this is not a billboard. This is a way to relate to your fans.

I, personally, haven’t managed to capture the right photo image for The Social Media Butterfly’s page, but I’m certainly going to have to do it before the March 30th deadline – that’s when you get Timeline, whether you’re ready or not.

TIP: When you upload a cover image, it shows up on your Timeline. If you don’t want an historical record of very cover image photo you tried before you decided on the right one, you’ll need to delete those Timeline posts.  Just scroll down to find them in your Timeline, hover over the post, and a little pencil button will show up. Click on that to edit – and select “delete.”

I love this cover image below – for exactly the reasons I spoke of above. Don’t you relate more to Matt, Anne and Al than you do the rainbow logo? Do you have an innovative cover image? Share it in comments!

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