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What You Need To Know About the Facebook Timeline Cover Photo (That People Aren’t Talking About)

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Over the past two weeks, I’ve massaged a bunch of Facebook fan pages in preparation for The Big Change on March 30, 2012 — the date when Facebook will wave a magic wand and turn business pages into timelines.

Here’s what this experience has taught me:  begin with the cover photo. And once you have a photo idea, get ready to resize, revise, and rethink it.

Through trial and error, I learned that a great timeline photo is not just a matter of following the Facebook guidelines and specifications of what you can and cannot do. There are also certain restrictions that no one is talking about that are REALLY important to know prior to picking the perfect timeline photo.

1. Keep The Good Stuff Away From The Edges Of The Photo

851 pixels wide seems like a ton of real estate to showcase the people, products, or services associated with your business — but the 315 pixels you have for height is downright puny. So get a photo that is short and wide — like a smile you’ll get upon posting the perfect fitting photo on your new timeline.

Since the image is short, resist the urge to put important images or branding near the top or bottom of your new photo. These borders have had a tendency to get unintentionally cropped upon uploading.

And it’s best not to put important material on the leftmost and rightmost edges of your image, either. Why you ask? Because when you upload your new cover photo to Facebook, you have the opportunity to reposition the image up and down — but not side to side.  (This shortcoming clearly goes in the “What in the What?” category.)

2. Embrace the Profile Picture

The timeline profile picture functions similarly to your old Facebook page. This logo-y looking square will continue to accompany your posts in your fans’ news feeds. In the timeline, this image will also appear on top of the lower left hand side of your cover photo.Sweetgreen Facebook Timeline Cover Photo and Profile Picture

So keep that profile picture space in mind when choosing a cover photo. Or better yet, figure out how to incorporate the picture in your cover photo. See how the Sweetgreen timeline (above) integrates its the profile picture with its cover photo to say that that the company has been around for 5 years.*

The all-female reggae band Universal Speakers used a free template from HyperArts to have its profile picture lay transparent on its cover photo. (Larger companies like Ford Motor Company have also taken the transparent profile picture approach.)

Universal Speakers Facebook Timeline Photo and Profile Picture3. Bigger Is Better

Through a few misfired uploads, I’ll can tell you how small you can go with your cover photo:  Facebook does not allow an image smaller than 399 pixels wide. To maximize the clarity and branding “pop” of your image, go long. Get the image as close as possible to the allowed 851 pixels.

Does this information get you closer to designing a killer timeline cover photo? What other insight or specifications do you still need?

*Vegan disclaimer: I do not eat some of the food shown in this photo. I’d love to learn of vegan businesses rocking the new Facebook timeline cover photo — feel free to share examples.

Headline photo credit: iStockphoto

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1 Comment

  1. Update: I like the idea of the coverphoto for the sunisebs pages, but the more I managed the page the less I liked the new format. Im not sure if timeline works for sunisebs pages as it does for personal Facebook profiles

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