Sometimes Facebook just tickles me. We as marketers go to bed with rules and ideas that Facebook has drilled into us for months, if not years, and when we wake up we discover Facebook has changed the world while we slept. I don’t want to be too hard on the company; occasionally they give us a heads-up. But even their forewarnings are riddled with surprises.
Today’s morning discovery? Rule changes for Facebook Cover photos!
When Facebook rolled out the Timeline for Pages this time last year, they provided very specific (some would say arbitrary) rules about what Page admins could do with the Cover photo. They were so specific and so outlandishly austere, I spent a good two and half minutes during our Facebook Timeline for Brands webinar last year explaining in detail what they all meant. Since then, Jenny and I have been scrutinizing every Cover photo mockup that’s crossed our desk to ensure our clients don’t violate the rules and have their Pages penalized.
For a refresher, here are the rules first laid out by Facebook:[box] Covers may not include:
- images with more than 20% text;
- price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on socialmusic.com”;
- contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;
- references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photos to any of these features;
- or calls to actions, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”[/box]
See? I wasn’t exaggerating about the whole strict and stern thing, was I?
But at last, the warden of Shawshank Facebook has seen the light! We can all rejoice because Facebook has updated their terms on Facebook Cover photos.
The new rules, as they are written:[box]Facebook Terms
“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. Covers may not include images with more than 20% text.”[/box]
As you can see, the only rule Facebook continues to push is the amount of text on the Covers. Other than that, it looks like you’re free to make your Cover photo however you like. Want to announce your weekend sale? Go for it! Want people to explore one of your apps? Aim an arrow right at it!
This is excellent news, especially as Facebook rolls out its new layout. Your Cover photo will now be a prominent feature on the News Feed whenever someone likes your Page and that story is shared with their friends.
Use your Cover photos wisely of course. Remember: your Cover is a representation of your brand. It’s not just some big billboard plastered on the side of a highway. Think strategically and always keep in mind what your users want to see: who you are, what you can offer, and how you will improve their lives.