You may not have heard but quietly back in July Facebook changed its rules for cover photos. The rules have shifted from a set of standards meant to keep the cover photo from becoming an ad to a much less specific set ofrules that give marketers more freedom to get the most out of their cover photo.
The previous set of rules were as follows:
Covers may not include:
i. images with more than 20% text;
ii. price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on socialmusic.com”;
iii. contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;
iv. references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
v. calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”
Now the rules are quite simplified and stated this way:
All covers are public. This means that anyone who visits your Page will be able to see your cover. Covers can’t be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else’s copyright. You may not encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines.
Simply put: be truthful, own your content and don't tell people to put your cover on their personal timelines.
With these new rules in place your cover photo can do quite a bit of work for you, particularly when it comes to driving your existing fans and new fans to your promotions or featured content.
Though Facebook is no longer enforcing most of the rules regarding your page's cover photo, it's important to note that the old rules remain best practices to keep your cover photo impactful and visually appealing.
Keep your image simple with a solid background and your CTA in the middle or right side of the cover photo. Aim to keep the image at or under the 20% text mark. There's already a ton of visual noise on your page so the simpler the better.
Facebook Rules Aren't The Only Rules: TCPA Compliance
We do not recommend using your Facebook cover art to directly promote your Text-To-Win or other mobile promotions. In order to be TCPA compliant, whenever you tell consumers how to interact with you on their phone you must include certain disclaimers, and they can be lengthy for this application. If you use your cover art to promote your mobile program, simply link to another tab where all your compliance information can easily fit. Here's an example of what your banner would look like with all required disclaimers...messy.
Tell Them Where To Go
To promote content on your website remember that people don't generally think to interact with the cover photo. It's best to include all necessary information in the cover photo and use items that look like buttons or hyperlinks to encourage interaction. Then, include a link to the related content in the 'Photo Description' field.
Show Them Where To Go
To encourage "likes" or point out a specific tab on your page, use the image to ask for what you want, pointing to where they need to go.
Additionally keep your cover photo and tabs in the same design scheme so it's clear they go together.
Don't have content on your cover photo that will be hidden by the profile image. When a consumer clicks on the image they'll be able to see the 'hidden' content, but it's better to keep it visible at all times.
One at a Time
Use your cover photo to promote just one thing at a time, don't try to cram everything into one image.
In a lot of ways your Facebook cover image is a free ad unit. So think outside of simply promoting your brand and dig deeper. Highlight your loyalty program or contest. Do you have a new product you want to get the word out about? Design your cover image to do it. Celebrating a milestone? Your image can help you do it. Are you hiring? Let your Facebook fans know.
This handy cover photo can help you remember the best practices and you can download a full sized version here.