4 Tips to Create the Perfect Cover Photo on Any Social Network

social media how to Are you proud of your social media cover photos?

Do you want to find out how to improve them?

Your cover photo is the first thing anyone sees when they visit your social media profiles.

Make that first impression a positive one.

In this article I’ll share tips to improve the quality and impact of your cover images today.

social media cover image tips

Find tips for creating the perfect social media cover photo.

#1: Pay Attention to Dimensions

When Facebook introduced the cover photoTwitter and Google+ followed suit. The large, banner-sized cover photos allow companies to express their online persona or reflect their established branding.

When it comes to cover photo perfection for brands and organizations, there’s more to good design and layout than just finding a beautiful image and saving it.

Repurposing art without customizing it may work in some rare cases, but you run the risk of ending up with cover photo elements that stretch beyond the image boundaries.

pitch kansas city facebook cover image

Always take the time to resize your art.

Notice how the Facebook buttons hide the “R” in “Ride” and the top of the train is cut off. It’s possible the company reused an image from another medium without resizing it to fit the cover photo space.

Using the recommended image size for your cover photo, no matter which platform you’re on, is key. Proper sizing ensures the image works best within the space—and with an overlapping profile photo. You want to be sure your image doesn’t look distorted or cut off.

When Google+ changed the header dimensions, the tagline in this Mercedes-Benz header was cut off the by the blurred feature bio area.

mercedes benz google plus header image

Even an otherwise stunning image can be poorly affected by a platform’s image constraints.

In response, Mercedes-Benz loaded a new cover image designed specifically for the newer dimensions.

mercedes benz google plus header image

Mercedes-Benz stays on top of changes to social platform cover image dimensions.

If you’re designing a Facebook cover photo, the recommended size is 851 x 315 pixels. The minimum dimensions you can use are 339 x 150 pixels.

Ideally, a Google+ cover photo should be 1080 x 608 pixels, but it can be up to 2120 x 1192 pixels. The smallest image you can use is 480 x 270 pixels.

As for Twitter, they have a single recommended size: 1500 x 500 pixels.

LinkedIn’s hero image has a recommended size of 1400 x 425 pixels.

#2: Use Consistent Brand Colors

Your cover photo takes up a lot of real estate on your profile. Because of that, it needs to work seamlessly with the rest of your branding.

If the colors in your cover photo don’t match your website logo colors, your page can look disjointed. Visitors may think you don’t care about your social media presence.

cheezburger facebook cover image

When images and colors match, your profile looks professional.

Cheezburger is a great example of a cover photo done right. They did a great job of creating a fun, cohesive image that matches both their modern, comedic style and plays on the name of their website.

The blue background of the cover photo matches the blue in their logo and the background of their profile photo. This page looks like the company put thought into the design and takes their profile seriously.

Your cover photo and profile picture certainly don’t need to match, but the images should use a complementary color palette.

clickhole facebook cover image

Your company’s branding should be consistent across all media.

Even though the blue spiral logo in the example above is cut off and the dark background doesn’t match either the orange of the ClickHole logo or website, this cover image works because of careful color choice.

#3: Change Images Often

Changing your cover photo takes very little effort—usually just a few clicks. Because it’s that easy, it makes sense to change your photo to complement or highlight current promotions, the season or an upcoming local event.

great plains spca facebook cover image

Update your space often to let your audience know about upcoming events or promotions.

Local animal shelter Great Plains SPCA made great use of space in the cover photo above. While highlighting a current fundraising campaign with a local collar company, they made sure the paragraph text wasn’t covered by the profile photo and showcased the collars by making them the border of the photo.

city of olathe facebook cover image

When the seasons change, change your cover image.

The City of Olathe, KS, changes their cover photo to reflect the seasons and related community locations. This Facebook cover photo shows off their largest community pool, which has waterfalls and a lazy river: a perfect representation of how to enjoy summer. Additionally, the blue of the water flows with the blue sky in their profile photo.

#4: Focus on Fans

When it comes to social media, it’s all about your community. Therefore, having fan-sourced images in your cover photos can be the perfect way to connect.

taco bell google plus header image

Show off the fans who show you off.

Taco Bell made a fan wall of their fans’ Instagrams of their latest Taco Bell trips, then used the wall in their cover photo. If you have a fanatical user base, like Taco Bell does, fans will love seeing their photos on your social media pages.

usweekly facebook cover image

Promote your product by promoting people who use it.

Gossip magazine Us Weekly‘s cover photo is a collage of celebrities (the fodder for their stories) reading and holding issues of their magazines. It’s a fun way to promote different issues of their weekly magazine.

Conclusion

Cover photos are some of the most underutilized aspects of a social media profile, yet they take up the majority of what a user sees first above the fold when they first go to a business page.

It’s important to budget for the time and cost of a unique cover photo. While sites like QuotesCover and Canva make it easier to create a great cover photo on your own, the services of a graphic artist can ensure your photo has the perfect dimensions, sizing and format.

Above all, remember your cover photo needs to fit your brand and company perfectly.

What do you think? Will these tips affect your cover photos? What changes will you make? What tips can you share? Leave your comments below.

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About the Author, Kelsey Jones

Kelsey Jones is the managing editor of Search Engine Journal & helps clients grow their social media, content, and search marketing presence under her agency, MoxieDot. Follow her on Twitter: @wonderwall7 Other posts by »




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  • http://catfoodisgoodforyou.com Cat Neligan (CFIGFY)

    Great tips! It is pretty frustrating when the social networks decide to update the image sizes needed, but as a graphic designer it does bring in some work at least! Love the Taco Bell example.

  • http://marketwithmario.com/ marketwithmario

    Great stuff as always, especially the new Google Plus dimensions

  • http://prodigymarketinggroup.com/ Steven Henderson

    Thanks for the great information! I was working on a Facebook cover similar to the US Weekly one when I saw this post!

  • CKCarterBooks

    For Facebook I used the recommended dimensions and it looks great….on a PC! On my phone or iPad it’s not right! Any suggestions?

  • Downtonian

    I agree that this can be really tricky. I also design for a PC and have noticed on the iPhone it looks not-so-great (mainly because things are cut off). Not sure if there’s a thing we can do about it, besides trying to keep it in mind while designing.

  • Linda C Hughes

    Self taught myself graphic designs some time ago so got this down pact, . I see so many small companies with such bad photos, or one giant photo, you have no clue what all they are selling.

  • http://bruno-buergi.com/ Bruno Buergi

    Great tips Kelsey. I had also a problem with G+ when they changed the size of the cover photo. I definitely have to look at Canva to make some changes.

  • Blaine Jeffery

    Has anyone ever had any issue with the amount of text that is in your Facebook cover? Are the rules that came out initially still in play… I just want to experiment with different images and messages and not worry about it. – Thanks,

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  • http://www.heartspoken.com/ Elizabeth H. Cottrell

    This is such a helpful article, Kelsey. As some others have mentioned, I almost lost my religion over my Twitter cover and how entirely different the profile picture placement is on desktop versus iPad or iPhone. It’s really tricky to find a cover graphic that works well with all, so you have to pick the one you think is most important and optimize for that. Any other suggestions?

  • Kelsey Jones

    Thanks Cat! Glad you liked it.

  • Kelsey Jones

    Thanks Cat! Glad you liked it.

  • Kelsey Jones

    Hey, I agree, which is why I mentioned them. I think just considering all your options is the best approach until you find what works best for you and your pages. Thanks for reading!

  • Kelsey Jones

    Hey, I agree, which is why I mentioned them. I think just considering all your options is the best approach until you find what works best for you and your pages. Thanks for reading!

  • Kelsey Jones

    I know the fb app and g+ app auto-optimizes the images, but as for viewing them on mobile web, its probably up to the social networks to make them responsive.

  • Kelsey Jones

    I know the fb app and g+ app auto-optimizes the images, but as for viewing them on mobile web, its probably up to the social networks to make them responsive.

  • Kelsey Jones

    I agree Linda! And with such easy and free tools, it makes it hard to find an excuse to not make an awesome one.

  • Kelsey Jones

    I agree Linda! And with such easy and free tools, it makes it hard to find an excuse to not make an awesome one.

  • Kelsey Jones

    I think experimentation is key. As far as the text, I would keep it short and succinct.

  • Kelsey Jones

    I think experimentation is key. As far as the text, I would keep it short and succinct.

  • Kelsey Jones

    Elizabeth, I think you’re right. Just go with the recommended sizes and hope the sites display it properly!

  • Kelsey Jones

    Elizabeth, I think you’re right. Just go with the recommended sizes and hope the sites display it properly!

  • http://bit.ly/mmgetsocial Meg Rulli

    Helpful article! I personally love using PicMonkey for social media images and profile pictures. I have also heard great things about Canva, but haven’t tried it yet!

  • http://www.accrosoft.com Jay Staniforth

    Great Article! Far too often do I see profile images and banner images that are badly sized or position and it really does remove a great opportunity to draw in attention and have some fun. The best bit advice here is to change it often… it’s a great chance for followers, fans or customers to share your image to their wider following and for you to benefit from some free advertising. I would aim to change every month (if necessary and relevant) – Changing it to match an event you are hosting or attending is also a great reason to use your banner image!

  • Hanna Kalafarska

    What about optimising cover photos for mobile? Businesses tend to pay more attention to desktop versions of the channels as that’s how they manage them. Facebook cover photos are quite significantly cropped on the mobile app from both sides and as for Twitter, the logo covers the middle of the header on the mobile app. Considering the vast majority of users access social media on their phone, it’s a pretty big thing to consider. My tip is to avoid captions in cover images all together. Stick to imagery!

  • http://www.keydifference.in suzy spring

    Nice article. I always think about colours while seeing stuffs. Your example for brand colours is really good. Colours are the first thing which will be attracted by eyes easily. Especially bright colours.

  • Kelsey Jones

    Yeah, Canva is AMAZING. I still love both though.

  • Kelsey Jones

    I agree, and when it comes down to it, it really doesn’t take that long.

  • Kelsey Jones

    Hey Hanna, I think I mentioned this in other replies, but the G+ and FB mobile apps automatically optimize your existing cover photo for the mobile app versions of your pages. It’s kind of up to the networks to optimize your image, since you can’t upload two/three separate versions for mobile, tablet, and PC.

  • Hanna Kalafarska

    Hi Kelsey, interesting point.

    The cover photo isn’t optimised automatically on a mobile FB app (at least not on Apple devices). It crops it significantly from both sides. Plus proportionally, a logo is much bigger and covers a bigger surface of the cover image on a mobile. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘it’s up to networks’? As a business you should be wary of what your headers look like on all devices. It’s up to you to ‘make that first impression a positive one’ like you mentioned above. And you can make your headers ‘fit all’ by removing captions, using collages (that even if cropped, still get the message across), or using real photography rather then graphics. Also, you can test them before publishing on test profiles, which I assume most social media professionals will have. Also, in terms of keeping your cover photo to suggested by the channel dimensions, Twitter header crops from top and bottom on desktop depending on the size of your monitor, so also something to consider.

  • http://www.heartspoken.com/ Elizabeth H. Cottrell

    Thanks, Kelsey. That’s about all we can do, I guess.

  • Susie

    What a great article packed with some of things I was currently pondering. Thanks.

  • http://www.praverb.net/ Praverb

    Excellent post Kelsey, going to do some research and change my cover photos to reflect new media or a significant change.

  • robinhood0137

    fully agreed

  • robinhood0137

    superb

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  • robinn6135

    beautiful covers

  • http://moxiedot.com/ MoxieDot

    Thanks for the feedback Hanna, I agree, something to definitely consider. -Kelsey







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