PREMISE FOR THIS PRIMER
Right after Facebook made their public announcement about ‘facebook timelines for business page covers’ in March of 2012, I started designing my own. I then set out to see how other businesses were managing. As I proceeded, I realized that I was conducting an intense and extensive research survey on how other small businesses were solving the facebook timelines for business page cover challenge. At first, I suppose, it was curiosity. It ultimately became a full-time endeavor resulting, not only in a statistical analysis, but is still a lively obsession.
The ‘Page Cover Mastery’ facebook timelines for business page cover. Images used © page owners and fb pages composite design © Alison Gilbert
I decided to write a non-technical, basic primer about my findings to guide others. I found that most small business owners were, and still are, baffled by how to solve facebook’s challenge. In fact, in my opinion, I think this change by facebook was quite unfair to the small business owner.
THE DECK WAS STACKED
One need look no further than the page covers presented by corporate America BEFORE the March 30, 2012 ‘deadline’. They are prize-winning examples of professional graphic, branding and social media savvy, obviously created by pros who had advance warning to do so.
The page cover says it all, Coca Cola from the SocialMediaExaminer.com blog post cited in sources.
On the other hand, as one pursues the miles and miles of small business attempts to fulfill these visual and verbal gymnastic, it is clear that the deck has been stacked against the small business owner. (S)he has neither the finances nor the resources to have a pro solve this challenge. Fortunately that needs to less and less the case.
Someone had to set things straight and even the score. As in golf, players are given handicaps depending upon their levels of skill. Well, consider this primer a ‘handicap’ for all the small business owners whom I hope will read this, get assistance from it and benefit business-wise from their new facebook page.
BALANCING THE SCORE
Without the help of a professional or professional guidance, the challenge can seem unsurmountable.
A CHANGE IN PLANS
Originally, I was going to write a simple ‘Ten Point Guide for Business Pages’. I realized that most business owners saddled with this challenge had more than enough to deal with to start. The only reasonable way to begin solving ‘the facebook timelines for business page cover challenge’ was to start even simpler, halve the task and start at the very beginning.
THE DIMENSIONS AND GUIDELINES WHEN THE GUIDLEINES FIRST CAME OUT IN MARCH 2012
@ Virgin Airlines
Just a note before we begin, I wrote this blog post for small business owners whose pages I had come across. Most of them clearly needed help back in July of 2012. It is now January 2013. Little has changed in their understanding of what needs to be done.
Start solving ‘the facebook timelines for business page cover design challenge’ with these 5 basic points.
Facebook has been cracking down and removing page cover (pictures) if they are in violation of their guidelines.
1. The profile picture, 180×180 pixel (facebook keeps changing the dimensions)
TIP: It is recommended that you use one of three images depending on the type of business you have:
• your logo
• an image representing your products or services or one of your retail shop exterior if you do not have a logo
• your photo ONLY if you are a celebrity or you are your brand
AVOID: Do not take a ‘snippet’ or part of your page cover photo and replicate it as this icon
INSIGHT: Keep the small icon you choose set once it is in place unless you find another image that is more appropriate.
But once you find it, keep it. In other words, this is your STATIC DESIGN ELEMENT.
2. The ‘page cover photo’ must measure 851 pixels across and a minimum of 315 pixels long (this can be longer for repositioning).
GUIDLINE: Use an image that represents your product(s), your service(s) or evokes your mission, business passion and strengthen your brand or relationship to your customers.
TIP: AVOID USING WORDS ON YOUR PAGE COVER PHOTO.
PROHIBITED ACCORDING TO THE FACEBOOK GUIDELINES:
• NO company URL
• NO Calls to Action
• NO Notice of a sale, discount or coupon
• NO promotional language in any shape of form (feel like you need a marketing attorney yet?!)
SUGGESTION: YES, It is suggested to change your page cover image often and for good reason.
INSIGHT: This image is meant to be your DYNAMIC DESIGN AND STORY TELLING ELEMENT to demonstrate your products and services in action. It is meant to be changed regularly. This helps to ‘tell the story’ of your business in real life.
3. THE ‘ABOUT’ SECTION
GUIDELINE: Your URL is now suggested to go first in the ‘About’section. But it must appear somewhere.
AVOID: Using words on your page cover photo. If you must use some, keep them to an absolute minimum.
SUGGESTION: The words you are tempted to put on the page cover picture need to go either in the ‘About’ Section or behind the page cover as the following demonstrate. You can add calls to action and other phrases prohibited on the page cover photo here, behind you page cover photo:The 2013 version of the LONG BEACH POLAR BEAR SWIM EVENT on SuperBowl Sunday. Original and revised version of this yearly published illustration by Phil Jacobs used as the publicity poster. Notice room to add information and comments next to the image.4. GETTING LIKES
This brings up a crucial question. Why do you need ‘LIKES’? And what can you do with different numbers of LIKES?
GUIDELINE: You need 25 ‘LIKES’ to get your custom URL (a BRIEF, EASY TO REMEMBER NAME that relates as closely as possible to the name of your page
GUIDELINE: You need 5 more ‘LIKES’ to access and read your insights.
TIP: facebook has many paid opportunities for advertising. We will not cover them in this primer.
SUGGESTION: There are many free sharing pages and groups where you can get the word out about your business.
INSIGHT: It is best to think in terms of SHARING, establishing and nurturing relationships.
AVOID: It is best NOT to simply ask for LIKE 4 LIKE. It is a one time hit. It is not social or interactive.
Image of Marvin Silva, Tattoo Artist© Marvin Silva
Did this person mean for this to be a ‘personal profile’ or a business page? One of the unfortunate things about facebook is that all pages are not equal. In fact, if you are seeking friends, you do not even have a ‘page’. You have a ‘personal profile’. Everyone signs up to facebook, or is supposed to, with their real name. This is to establish a ‘personal profile’. This is where you make friends and connect with your existing friends. Everyone could have one ‘personal profile’. But at one time, that was all you could have. So if you had a business and wanted to put it on facebook, you had to use your ‘personal profile’ and be creative with it. Some people never switched over when ‘business pages’ came into being.
Originally only famous people could have fan pages. Those types of pages have morphed several times. They are still referred to as fan pages sometimes. But they are now the business pages we all use for our businesses. There is no restriction on the number of business pages, group pages, community pages, nonprofit pages, etc. one can have. Now all business is supposed to be done on these ‘fan pages’.
There is a chance that facebook is going to stop allowing people to use their ‘personal profiles’ for business. You would not believe how many people are using them as such. If this were to happen, these non-pages could be eliminated. That could be disastrous. But facebook does have instructions in the Help Section to convert a personal profile into a business page.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE PAGES AND AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF
GOOD DESIGN AND FOLLOWING FACEBOOK’S GUIDELINES
Image of Choose Cherries © ChooseCherries
I love cherries and I love the ChooseCherries timelines for business page cover. I would also like to end on a positive note. So here it is. There is hope for the small business owner in solving this ‘facebook timelines for business page cover challenge’. We welcome your comments and would like very much to know if this blog post has been helpful to you.
Alison Gilbert is a Digital Age Journalist. She is a regular contributing author to Digital Ethos, writes Alison*s Blog and is The New York Graphic Design Examiner. Alison is now a social media educator and the retired owner of MARKETING BYTES Solutions 4 Local Biz located on Long Island, New York.
This boutique style – very personal service – hybrid company specialized in helping local/small biz generate sales leads by combining the best of traditional advertising with the latest online marketing technology. Contact Alison Gilbert at email@example.com or
call 516-665-9034 EDT/NY/US.
January 2013: The original facebook primer blog post published in July 2012 has been revised and updated to reflect the many and latest facebook page cover guidelines changes since the Primer’s original publication. The changes are sufficient to warrant this new post, The ‘Facebook Timelines for Business Page Cover’ Primer Revisited.
Pay the closest attention to the most recent information. It changes very quickly.
- Page Cover Mastery Alison Gilbert’s Facebook page on Facebook timeline pages.
- Mari Smith’s Facebook Webinar, ‘Ten Essential Money-Making Facebook ‘Techie’ Tips
- DBMEi Blog Post of April 14, 2012, The Facebook Page Cover Challenge (by Alison Gilbert)
- Five Ways to Enhance Your Facebook Timeline Page With Images (Social Media Examiner.com)
- Facebook May Remove Your Business Page
- Amy Porterfield’s Facebook Marketing Secrets (Video)
- International Advertising for Free (A system of hundreds of sharing pages and groups)
- Pages Provided by Alison Gilbert
About Alison Gilbert
Through decades as an entrepreneur, I developed ventures in over a half a dozen industries including HEALTH FOOD | GRAPHIC DESIGN | BUSINESS PROMOTION | HOLISTIC HEALTH | DECORATIVE PAINTING | SOCIAL MEDIA | PUBLIC SPEAKING | WRITING. Eventually under the umbrella of ALISON*S ART, INC, they evolved into the dba MARKETING BYTES, a hybrid company specializing marketing small business using social media marketing and traditional graphic design services. Currently retired, I am focusing on teaching social media marketing graphic design and visual journalism. I can be messaged through www.facebook.com/alisondgilbert and tweeted @MktngBytesMaven and @AlisonsArt.