Images dominate the social media landscape. Specifically, social media cover photos are the largest visual chunk of your profile, making them ripe with the opportunity to create a lasting impression. They’re also a key tactic for increasing views and engagement on your social pages.
Twitter, a mostly text powered platform, sees a nearly 150% boost in retweets from image posts. Even LinkedIn pages benefit from the addition of photos, which can provide a 200% increase in engagement compared to profiles with less featured pictures.
Take advantage of the power of social media cover photos with these easy to apply tips.
1. Know your image sizes.
One of the biggest marketing headaches in social media is sizing (and repeatedly resizing) images. You should make sure they look appealing across a variety of platforms including smartphones and tablets. Here’s a cheat sheet of recommended pixel sizes for all the major social media sites that offer cover photos:
Pro tip: It’s best to upload your social media cover photos via your desktop computer.
In fact, some of these websites actually prohibit users from updating photos on mobile apps. According to their help forums, the most common issue users experience regarding cover photos is an error message during upload. A quick fix is to make sure your browser is up to date or switch to a different one.
2. Provide clear takeaways.
Does your current cover photo include a logo, brand colors, product image, or simplified service list? If not, be sure to update it right away. It may seem obvious but some small business owners make the mistake of using a cover photo they like rather than one that clearly explains their company or what they have to offer at a glance.
For example, this Twitter cover photo below tells visitors about a major upcoming event. Visitors immediately get information for an event they may want to attend and can find out more.
Because social media cover photos take up a large chunk of profile real estate, they act as the hook for viewers to continue reading or scrolling. Use that to your advantage and make it count.
Pro tip: If you choose an image without text—a valid option—check out this post to see how you can use content to tell a story.
3. Define your goal.
Having a goal in mind will greatly inform your cover photo design choices along with the rest of your profile content.
Here are three primary targets for social media cover photos:
- Brand recognition. Use your logo, colors, and tagline to help clients become more familiar with your business.
- Showcasing credentials or achievements. Go ahead and brag a little by featuring a recent award for added credibility.
- Connect to their emotions. Feature an image that will guide their experience of your page. Add a few thoughtful words or a quote for added effect.
The page below decided to include two recent awards in their cover photo. This accomplishes points 1 & 2 above. This business is showcasing their credentials while encouraging visitors to go check out their award-winning social media-focused website.
Once you know why you’re adding this element to your page, the design questions are all pretty much answered for you.
4. Use little to no text in your social media cover photos.
It’s speculated the brain’s ability to process images is 60,000 times faster than text. Experts in the field of visual literacy say that while words enter our short-term memory as many tiny bits of information (for which our brains have a finite amount of storage space), images go directly into our long-term memory bank faster and more efficiently.
If you weren’t allowed to use any words at all, could you get your point across? If not, how can you demonstrate your idea in as few words as possible?
This Facebook cover photo shows a sampling of items sold by The Honest Company: makeup, baby care items, and cleansers and soaps. No words needed. You get what they do, what they offer, and what to expect by clicking “shop now.”
Ask yourself what long-term association would you like your potential new customers to have with your social media profile and your business. Consider how your current cover photo compares to that and make adjustments.
5. Make sure your image is dynamic, simple, and emotionally driven.
According to a study conducted at MIT titled, “What Makes an Image Memorable,” assessing and predicting the memorability of one photo over another is still an evolving subject. They found certain key image components like people, interiors, foregrounds, and social institutions played a large role in the success of memory. In other words, viewers were more likely to remember images with prominent human subjects in the foreground that connected with them on a deeper level.
Whether or not you choose to include people in your cover photo, keep the most engaging component of your image in the center to create a striking first impression. Having only one primary focal point is more likely to create a boost in engagement.
NASA certainly accomplished a striking first impression with this Twitter cover photo.
This image is both easy on the eyes and stands out among the cover photos above or below it.
Consider this when you compare your images to featured pictures on competitor profiles.
- What stands out?
- How can you replicate or improve on their design?
Use these answers to inform your cover photo choices.
Whatever You Do, Remember This:
If you decide to follow just one piece of advice from this post, make sure it’s the understanding that social media cover photos may not make or break your marketing strategy, but they do have the ability to powerfully affect your audience and form more authentic connections. If you already have a social media profile, upgrading this component is a no-brainer.
It’s the attention to detail that customers love most about your business. However, we understand all those little tasks can really jeopardize your time. If you feel overwhelmed with your to-do list and would like to have a dedicated team of experts available to assist you, OutboundEngine is here to help.
Remember, social media cover photos are just one tiny part of your online presence and strategy. Learn more about what it takes to build and maintain a social media strategy with our free Social Media Field Guide.
Last Updated: February 2020