Facebook has quietly removed the "20% text rule" for Page cover photos. In case you weren't aware, since March 2013, Facebook has had a guideline stipulating that cover photos on Facebook could not include more than 20 percent text. This rule caused both confusion and frustration among business Page owners. It was often hard to judge whether or not a cover image was in compliance. And some brands seemed to get away with breaking the rules, while others didn't.
But as of today, according to the updated Facebook Page Guidelines, it appears that the rule has disappeared. So what does this mean for businesses? Go crazy! Actually, not really. What it means is that businesses need to find that fine line between "just enough" and "way too much." Just because the cover photo can now have as much text as you'd like, doesn't mean you should abuse the space.
Here's how the new guidelines appear:
The rule may be gone, but there are 3 things you still should NOT do with your Facebook cover photo:
1. Overcrowd the space
A cover photo is 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. Although it's one of the largest image spaces on Facebook, text still needs to be used strategically. When creating your new cover photo, make sure your text is organized, readable and makes sense. Don't try to cram everything in at once. Use a font, and a font size, that is legible. People naturally read left to right, so keep this in mind when adding text to your cover photo: Don't try to be so clever that visitors have to work hard to read the type.
In addition, don't try to convey too many ideas at once. If you want to promote a new eBook or PDF download, go for it. Just don't promote your latest eBook, a PDF download and new website all in the same cover photo. Spread it out and highlight one idea per photo. Focusing on one thing at a time also motivates you to change your cover photo frequently, something I suggest.
2. Be too sales-y
A few months ago Facebook removed cover photo guidelines stating that a business Page's cover could not include any form of call to action. Since then, businesses have had the opportunity to experiment with promoting products, giveaways and contests through their cover photos, but were still limited by the 20 percent text rule. Now that the limit is gone, businesses should be careful to not be over sales-y on their cover photos.
It's important to remember that Facebook is a place where people like to chat with their friends, see photos and interact with their favorite brands in a personal way. Turning your cover photo into a digital billboard might be dangerous for your business. Instead, try to think of creative ways to promote your products and contests. For example, instead of saying "New hair straightener, BUY NOW!" try something like "Still having bad hair days? We've got the solutions you need at [insert website]!"
3. Forget the power of a picture
Bottom line: Just because you can now fit a gazillion words on a cover photo doesn't mean you should. Remember that pictures still speak louder than words when it comes to Facebook. When you update your cover photo, the image will appear in your fans' News Feed, so keep in mind that Facebook users respond more to images than they do to text. A strong photo of your team, or your product, could bring you more attention than a cover photo crammed with words.