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Facebook Cover Photo Guidelines for Business

By |Last Updated: January 21, 2013|3 min read|

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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