Facebook Cover Photo Guidelines for Business

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Facebook limits cover photos to 20% textIn a previous post I described some of the basic elements of the Facebook Timeline for Pages. Since that post, Facebook has updated their guidelines for cover photos slightly. Anyone surprised? Facebook constantly changes things. Sometimes in order to experiment with new features and other times, such as this one, because some marketers started abusing the cover photo area for advertising.

The ground rules for any cover photo include:

  • Don’t use any image that may be under copyright
  • The photo you use must be at least 720 pixels wide
  • No URLs or other contact information is allowed as this info is meant to go in the “About” area
  • You cannot add graphical elements that point to the Like button or any other Facebook interface element
  • Do not to include price/sale information (i.e., 30% discount)
  • Calls to action are not allowed, meaning you’ll have to resist the urge to add text such as, “Visit our site,” “Sign up now,” “Check out ____,” etc.

 And now… Facebook has added that cover photos cannot contain more than 20% text.

What does this mean?

This means that we now need to do a little basic math. Remember math? Ugh. Ok, first we know that a cover photo is 851 x 315 pixels.  To find out what 20% of this is we need to determine its surface area. To do so, multiply the width by the height, which equals 268,065. Twenty percent of this surface area equals 53,613 pixels. Now, simply divide your desired length (let’s say this is 351) into 53,613 and you will get the corresponding height (in this case that would be 153). See the examples below:

What 20% of a Facebook cover photo looks like

What 20% of a Facebook cover photo looks like

This now also applies to ads and sponsored stories in News Feed. Though what constitutes 20% text on an image will be subjective based on the content, Facebook gives the following suggestions as guidelines for good content posts:

  • Photos should include real people and real things. User sentiment research shows that emotions triggered by images of real people, real situations, and real objects, are more lasting and compelling than those with words or text
  • Text or text overlay should be minimal. Text in photos from friends is rare so text in photos from brands is seen as inauthentic and generates negative reactions
  • Brand logos, campaign slogans, and taglines should be used sparingly. Consider using a photo of your product in action instead of overlaying your brand logo or slogan on an unrelated image.
  • Keep it simple.

For more information check out the official Page guidelines, which provides additional information beyond cover photos. Also, feel free to respond or ask questions via the comments below or contact me via email christine [at] sprk-d [dot] com.

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About Christine

Christine Mortensen has been creating and growing digital brands at agencies for over 10 years. She is passionate about content, social media, and the Chicago startup community. Tweet her some time @cmortensen to say hi!

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  • me

    Who will enforce this as they have no customer service reps….

    • http://www.sprk-d.com/ Sprk-d

      First, thanks for taking the time to read our post and for leaving a comment!

      It seems that they’ve updated their guidelines, yet again, and now allow calls-to-action but the 20% text rule still stands. https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php

      Facebook has been reported to remove cover photos in the past so someone there is paying at least some attention. There was speculation that they would create a tool that would analyze cover photos for too much text but this seems quite extreme.

      Whether the guidelines are enforced heavily or not, we would not suggest tempting fate and potentially have your Page shut down. It’s just not worth it. No one wants to see an obnoxious cover photo that screams at visiters (unless of course, that fits with your brand ;) ), so it is best to stay within the guidelines and use the space to express the essence of your brand visually and creatively.

      Here is another article with more interesting information: http://www.insidefacebook.com/2013/03/20/facebook-changes-cover-photo-policy-20-text-rule-in-effect-but-content-less-regulated/

      Additionally, Facebook does actually have customer service representatives, but in relation to their ad products https://www.facebook.com/help/contact?id=316117961832348

      Here is their ad service phone number 1-800-608-1600 and below is a link for businesses to request a call back within two business days: https://www.facebook.com/business/contactus

      Hope you find this information helpful! Let us know if you have any other questions or comments.

      Thanks again,

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