We tend to put a lot of thought into the content we post on Facebook, but for too many businesses, the Facebook cover photo is an after-thought. It’s a shame - given the impact a cover photo can have on a user’s first impression of your business.
As the first image people will see when visiting your Facebook page, the cover photo is worth more effort than businesses typically give it. In an age where creativity is so highly valued - an uninspired photo is a surefire way to get your users to stop paying attention to your business. If you want to make a lasting impression with your cover photo - there’re a couple of important things to keep in mind.
Ok - so how important are Facebook cover photos?
The Facebook cover photo presents a lot of opportunity for business owners. This visual banner is the Facebook equivalent of the storefront window - a tiny peek into the character of a retailer and a way to turn passers-by into customers.
As a first impression to your customers - a good cover photo acts as a welcoming can create a positive view of your brand early and help turn casual visitors into passionate followers and eventually, customers. Online retailers spend a ton of time and effort into making sure the design of their website is flawless and flows in a way that optimizes conversion. Winning over customers with beautifully designed websites and interesting social media content is important - but to even get those users to look at your website or social media feed - you need to intrigue them with a good cover photo.
Whether you’re using Facebook to generate leads, sell products or just to work on building a community of customers - the cover photo is the first step in achieving that goal. Check out our guide below for some ideas and tips for making a cover photo that will wow your visitors.
Understanding how Facebook cover photo dimensions can change
Facebook indicates in their guidelines that the image needs to be at least 400 pixels wide and 150 pixels tall - but you want the image to be much larger than this to avoid blur and pixelation when the image is blown up to its desktop size. We recommend using an image that’s about 850 pixels wide and 500 pixels tall. This will make the image large enough that it won’t appear pixelated when uploaded but small enough that the file will have a manageable load time.
On a standard desktop screen, Facebook will display your image at 820 pixels by 312 pixels. Your image doesn’t have to be this size exactly, but Facebook will crop it down to this size when uploaded. This means you want to find an image where the subject of the photo fits in-frame after the photo is cropped.
Although you can adjust the placement of the photo when you upload it, it’s still a good idea to design the image with these dimensions in mind. You want the focus of the image to be close to the middle of the frame, so that important parts aren’t cropped by Facebook. This is especially important if you plan on including text in your photo. The text needs to be visible when the image is uploaded, so remember to keep it placed close to the middle of the image canvas.
Optimizing your Facebook mobile cover photo size
On mobile devices, the dimensions of your cover will display slightly differently but the same image is used. On iPhones, Facebook will display your cover photo at 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels.
Take note of the area that will be shown in-frame. It’s much narrower on a mobile screen than on the desktop, but also stretches to be a little taller. This means that the crop that takes place on a mobile screen is a little different. A photo with wide edges that can be cropped varying degrees is ideal for this.
Again - you also want to be mindful of the focus of the image. Cover images with a stark background and the subject in the center of the image tend to work well because the image can be cropped numerous ways while still looking professional.
Guidelines for your Facebook cover photo template
Now that we understand how Facebook will crop the image for desktop and mobile views, we can select an image that can be cropped for either platform. To understand if the image you want to use would make a good cover photo, it helps to imagine the image with two boxes overlayed on top.
One box represents the frame for the mobile view and measures at 640 by 360 pixels. The other box represents the desktop frame and is sized at 820 by 312 pixels. With these boxes over your image, you can easily see what parts of the image will get cut off on both platforms and what parts will be displayed on both. Here you can see why an image with the subject towards the middle of the frame works best for this. For images with text overlayed - remember to keep the text in the center frame. This means that the text will display in full on either desktop or mobile Facebook pages.
Also don’t forget to be mindful of the ideal cover photo size (around 820 pixels wide by 500 pixels tall) - you want the image to be large enough so that it won’t look blurry on desktop screens and small enough that it will load quickly on the page.
Keep file-size and file-type in mind if you’re optimizing the image for load times as well. Facebook points out that a cover photo will load fastest as an sRGB JPG file that’s less than 100 kilobytes. You can crop and compress your image to this size in the photo-editing software of your choosing or by using a free JPEG compressor online.
Designing the perfect cover photos for Facebook timelines
Once we understand how Facebook is cropping its cover photos - how do we prepare an image that will look good when cropped? Well to start, we need to understand what makes certain images better than others for cover photos.
Pictures that make feature patterns and textures tend to make great cover photos because they’re versatile enough to be cropped to different sizes without losing anything stylistically. Since the primary focus is a pattern, these pictures tend to be more adaptable to different frames. On top of this - it’s relatively easy to overlay text on images like this to help advertise a sale, product or event.
If you do end up adding text to your image, you’ll want to make sure that the text has enough space on either side of it to avoid being cropped when uploaded as your Facebook cover. This doesn’t mean that the text has to be in the exact centre of the image, but it should be close enough to the centre that it won’t get cut-off uploaded to your page.
In this image, for example, a good buffer is present on the sides, top and bottom of the image, ensuring the text doesn’t get cut-off when uploaded. Keeping the text within your two overlayed frames will make it so the text can be read clearly on both the desktop and mobile versions of your page.
How successful brands use Facebook cover design
Brands that successfully utilize their Facebook cover photo understand that the dimensions and sizes of the photo need to be versatile enough to withstand Facebook’s image cropping - but they also use a lot of creative designs that grab the attention of their followers.
Let’s go over a couple of brands getting it right and examine why their cover photos are effective:
Atlassian is an enterprise software company based in San Francisco. Their Facebook page features a clever cover photo design of their logo in a number of patterns organized into a symmetrical 5 x 2 frame. From a design perspective, the image is clean and interesting. The objects in frame are balanced and the colors are harmonious - so it doesn’t pull attention elsewhere. Atlassian has a beautifully designed cover-photo that attracts the viewer's attention and entices them to engage with the brand.
Based in New York City - Birchbox is a subscription service that sends a supply of makeup and beauty products at the start of each month. The cover image on their Facebook page is a great example of one technique that a lot of retailers use. The image is a flat-lay photograph of their products arranged in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. There’s balance, colour harmony - and an image that gets right to the point in showing off the products they sell.
Andy Westface is a Hong Kong-based illustrator and graphic designer. Westface is primarily known for his saturated pastel colors, minimalist design and his use of cute animals in his work. Given his prowess for pastel aesthetics - it’s no surprise that his Facebook cover photo makes use of his unique style. This cover image acts as a quick introduction to Westface’s vector graphics and color palette and effectively invites the user to explore the page further.
How a Facebook cover video can add life to your business page
In addition to the standard cover photo, Facebook now offers users the option to add a gif, cinemagraphs or a Facebook cover video. The addition of this feature has opened doors for brands looking to use this as an opportunity to flex their creative marketing skills.
Learn from the pros: how brands are using cinemagraphs, videos and gifs on Facebook
Facebook cover videos are still relatively new, so the addition of one to your page is a great way to make your brand stand out. When looking for creative inspiration - sometimes it’s best to take a look at what the pros are doing and try to emulate it. So without further ado - here’s a list of some of our favourite Facebook cover videos, gifs and cinemagraphs.
Dollar Shave Club
On their Facebook page, Dollar Shave Club uses the flat-lay product photo idea mentioned earlier - but with Dollar Shave Club, there’s the added flair of the animation over the flat-lay. With the products hypnotically bouncing around, it’s hard to stare at this image without being mesmerized. Product cinemagraphs like this are a great way to draw the attention of users visiting the page. You can either make a cinemagraph like this on your own using Photoshop or use a ready-made cinemagraph from Burst for free.
National Geographic’s cover video is one of the most visually-stunning cover videos being used on Facebook. NatGeo’s cover video features high-definition shots of bright, bioluminescent sea-creatures set against the pitch black background of a seemingly endless deep sea. The video’s saturated colors act as a lure to draw the user’s attention immediately. It also works as a great intro to the types of content users will find on the page. A well-made cover video like this can go a long way in building a lasting relationship between a brand and their followers.
On their Facebook page, Buffer App uses the technique of showing a behind the scenes look at their employees' day-to-day lives. From the POV clip of a drone flying over waving employees to the candid shots of employees chatting in a circle - everything in the cover video for Buffer is designed to showcase the technological ingenuity that the company wants users to associate with their brand. Videos that show the human side of companies like this tend to go a long way in humanizing a brand and driving customer loyalty.
Wave Video App
Wave is a video app that allows users to create professional marketing videos using stock footage, text overlay, and video editing tools. The app combines an intuitive user-interface with a database of video clips that can be used for any video marketing projects. Given the product they’re selling - it’s no surprise that Wave’s video cover is the type of marketing video one can expect to make with the app. It works because it lets users know right away what product they’re selling and shows how they can better their business with the product.
Using the right Facebook cover video specs
If you’re going to go down the route of using a Facebook cover video - you want to make sure that the video is optimized for upload so that it looks as professional as the examples used above. Videos can be uploaded in your Facebook settings the same way you’d currently upload a cover image: hover over the existing image and you’ll see an option to add a cover video.
Cover videos are similar to photos in that they’ll get cropped if the dimensions are a little off. It’s alright for the dimensions of your videos to be off slightly, but just remember to accommodate for the cropping that will take place and make sure everything that needs to be seen is focused towards the center of the frame.
Your cover videos can be anywhere from 20 to 90 seconds long. Any longer and Facebook will give you an error if you try to upload the video. Before uploading to Facebook, make sure your video is edited for time.
Your video will play automatically when a user visits the page and will be muted by default. Even though Facebook gives users the option to turn the sound on, it’s a good idea to avoid adding any vital information to the audio of your video. Most users won’t be turning the audio on and even if they do - you don’t really want them to get bogged down watching the cover video if your goal is to have them explore the page. Some simple music or ambient noises are best to use. If there’s any vital info you want to share - it’s best to have it appear as text on the screen - like in the Wave app cover video.
Facebook cover inspiration: Ideas for how to use your cover photo
There are a ton of different ways that a Facebook cover photo can be used. Some brands take it in a more artistic directions and use an image that builds on their brand’s aesthetic. Other companies might opt for more practical covers - using the space to advertise upcoming sales and events.
If you’re looking for some inspiration on what to add as your own Facebook cover photo - you want to start by defining the goal of your Facebook page. What is the purpose of your Facebook page? Are you directing users to make purchases from you? Are you building a character for your brand? Or maybe you’re just looking to build a good social media following? Whatever the reason - the end goal of your Facebook page should define the type of cover you want to have. Here are some of the more popular ways that business use their cover photos:
Introduce your aesthetic
If you’re an artist, designer or just an entrepreneur with ambitious branding ideas - your cover photo is a great way to introduce yourself to the world. Since the purpose of pages like this are to showcase an artist’s style, it makes sense to have a cover photo that does just that.
For this type of cover photo, it’s best to use a minimalist design and limit the number of colors to create a color scheme for your brand. Cover photos like these thrive on creativity - so if you’re less artistically inclined you might consider hiring a graphic designer to do this work for you.
Show Off Your Products
If you’re an online retailer, then there’s a good chance you might benefit from a cover photo that shows off your latest and most popular products. If you’re selling a lot of products, flat-lay images work great for showcasing all of them. If you’re promoting a specific product - you might consider an image of the product in use.
Behind the Scenes
Give your followers a glimpse of life at your company behind the scenes. You can do this by including office photographs of your employees at work or maybe a cover video giving a behind-the-scenes look at your shipment process. Techniques like this can go a long way in humanizing your brand and showcasing the people behind it.
Advertise Your Latest Sale
A cover photo can be a great way to advertise an upcoming sale or special event for your company. This can be a great technique for driving conversion for your online store if this is the goal of your Facebook page. Advertising a sale helps to build brand awareness among your followers and drives awareness of your latest deals. Just remember that if you do this, you want to make it easy for users to follow from the page to the sale - so consider pinning a post to your page with a link to the sale you’re advertising.
Getting the right Facebook group cover photo size
In their 2017 update, Facebook changed the cover photo dimension for group cover photos. The new size of Facebook group cover photos is 820 pixels x 334 pixels. If you’re uploading a cover photo to be used in a Facebook group, make sure that the photo is sized differently. If the same photo is being used, ensure that it can be cropped to fit the 820 pixel width and 334 pixel height dimensions as well.
Businesses tend to take Facebook cover photos for granted, but given its placement on your Facebook page, it’s one of the most important things to think about when it comes to branding on Facebook.
The first thing people will see when they visit your page is your cover photo. If you want to make a good impression on your followers, use your creativity to give users a sneak peak of your page and introduce them to your brand. A good cover photo can be the start of a strong customer-merchant relationship.
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