Facebook Changes Offers Users Less Rules For Cover Images

By on March 21, 2013

More Facebook changes have materialized this week, as the social media giant has relaxed their policy governing what you can and can’t put on your cover photo. There are lots of new and exciting things you are now allowed to do with your cover photo, which is a big boost for business pages. Let’s find out more.


The Old Facebook Cover Policy

You might remember how strict the rules once were that detailed what you can and can’t design into a Facebook cover photo. You couldn’t write any calls to action on it for example, or Facebook would ask you to take it down, or just remove your page. The new Facebook changes have done away with every single one of those rules, except one.


The Rule That Still Counts

The only remaining rule that Facebook will still enforce is this one: “your cover photo may not be more than 20% text.” That means 80% of your photo has to be an image, and only 20% can be words of any kind.

This still restricts what you can say – or rather how you can say it – but as Facebook changes go, it’s a big one. They offer a lot more flexibility to business pages that are only on Facebook to sell their products. I never quite understood why Facebook had so many rules for the cover photo, but I’m glad to see them gone.

Try improving your impressions, clicks and sales without any calls to action in this prime real estate! It was very hard. Rumor has it that the Facebook changes happened because Facebook realized that they had very little hope regulating the billion accounts. What do you do exactly when someone violates a silly rule like that?


The Rules That Don’t Count Anymore

Facebook changes like this don’t come very often, but you can bet your boots that businesses all over the world will be redesigning their cover photos. Here’s what is now 100% legal to do on your cover photo:

• You CAN put price or purchasing information on your cover photo now. That means you can have a product image with a great big “only $14.99” right on your page. You can also tell your fans where they can go to buy, “download at jimmysburgers.com.

• You CAN put your contact information directly on your cover photo. This Facebook change will drive a lot of extra leads to your websites. Put your web address there, your email address, your postal address and telephone number – go nuts!

• You CAN tell your visitors to click, like or share your page with their friends. The Facebook changes make it possible for you to even have an arrow pointing down to the like button, like the old days! This will definitely increase your fan base.

• You CAN create calls to action and publish them on your cover photo. Phrases like ‘buy it now,’ ‘download here,’ and ‘share with your friends’ are perfectly acceptable. This opens up a lot of new marketing opportunities for page owners.

The real reason why these Facebook changes have occurred, is because Facebook needed to make their image policies for ads and cover photos the same. Cover photos are appearing in more and more ad campaigns, and without calls to action, pricing info and the other previously banned phrases – the ads were not living up to their highest potential.

If Facebook is going to capitalize on their new advertising systems, then they need to make marketing a standard and desirable part of using the platform. It has to be completely business friendly. You can’t sell a product to someone and then insist that ‘because of the rules’ they can’t have effective images in their ads.

Though the ad system has a long way to go before it’s perfect. Some Facebook ads are full of words, and they are approved – while others barely have any words, and they are rejected. This is definitely the teething phase for the platform. These Facebook changes are not going to stop coming.

Until Facebook can make their business users as active as their social users, it will continue to improve conditions for page owners. I read recently that they’ve got their heads in the books, and are working through tons of data to make educated decisions about their services. Facebook changes like removing the ‘unlike page’ option in the newsfeed is one of the tactical moves.

The data obviously showed that too many people were unliking business pages when given the chance. Facebook doesn’t want that to happen. For every unlike – there are businesses reaching less people. If you can’t reach people, why bother taking out an advert? It’s all part of their master strategy to become a hugely business-friendly platform.


The Cover Photo Potential

My advice is to go and change your cover photo immediately. All covers are public and they are highly likely to show up on Google page one for a direct search. Launching a product? Use your cover photo. Appearing at an event? Use your cover photo. These Facebook changes will make it a lot easier to scale small business pages in the coming days.

• Put amazing discounts on your cover photo
• Put incredible specials on your cover photo
• Add a ‘like our page here’ arrow and graphic
• Add in some timeless calls to action to drive traffic!

Remember that the governing rule is still to publish way more image than text. But sales tools are back in, and that’s more than enough for now. We can all start using our Facebook pages a little more realistically because of this change. I expect that more Facebook changes are on the way, and we’ll be smiling about them all year.

Are you going to change your Facebook cover photo? What do you think about these new changes that are sweeping through the social network?

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About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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