Facebook cover photos are the main visual device on Facebook pages, but did you know there are terms and conditions which govern their use?
I was happy when covers were introduced along with the new Timeline, because they provide more visual real estate at the top of our pages, they’re eye-catching and give us an opportunity to be creative.
But like a lot of things on Facebook, it’s important to be aware of the rules.
Facebook doesn’t want us treating cover images like billboards or supermarket catalogues crammed with pricing information. Rather, we’re encouraged to view them as aesthetic design elements which can support a brand without yelling about the latest discounts a business offers.
According to Facebook’s cover image guidelines, our mastheads cannot contain pricing information such as “40% off”, contact information like your email address, or calls to action like “Get it now”.
Why? It’s my guess that the company would prefer to see our discounts and calls to action in Facebook ads and promoted posts, rather than a free-for-all in cover images. Why give us all that free real estate in our business page? (Although of course most of our page fans don’t visit the actual page and see the cover image after their initial Like; rather, they interact with us sporadically via any updates in their newsfeed. They can also view the cover image when they get a preview by hovering over our page names).
Related reading: The 10 worst things you can do with your Facebook business page
But wait, there are changes coming.
More recently, Facebook advised that there must be a set ratio of text versus imagery on the page. It aims to reduce the amount of text in cover images – again, think ‘pretty picture’. This has been called “the 20% rule” and has a lot of Facebook marketers frustrated.
“The gist of these changes is that you can’t promote images with more than 20% text in them as page post ads, sponsored stories, or cover images. Facebook will be releasing a tool to help quickly determine whether your image satisfies the 20% limit”. – Somebodymarketing.com
The YouTube clip below from Smart Social Media For Biz outlines the 20% rule with examples of cover images that haven’t complied …
You might have seen cover images that break the rules.
That’s not unusual on Facebook – and it doesn’t mean it’s okay! It’s just that those pages haven’t been reported yet. Facebook doesn’t have the resources to patrol its massive network continually looking for contraventions; it relies in part on other Facebook users reporting pages that have broken the rules. And often, that reporter might be your competitor or a professional (online) community manager who is tired of adhering to the rules while others flout it.
Have you seen any cover images that flagrantly break the rules?[ Hint: often, they are just plain ugly].