It seems that nearly everyone is on Facebook these days. Well, over 651 million of us are, and once you let that number sink in, you can see how the social media site is a wellspring of potential consumers for your business. But before you dive in, there are a few things you should understand — not only about Facebook and its users, but also about the role of design in creating an effective cover image for your company’s page.

In our Facebook cover design infographic, we indicated that 79% of businesses surveyed saw increased engagement after having their cover redesigned. Now that you know why you should redesign your Facebook cover, we’ll show you how.

Below are three effective Facebook cover design tips to help your business succeed. For inspiration, don’t miss the case studies and some of our favorite Facebook covers from 99designers.

1. Know the space

First, know your space. The Facebook template is pretty simple and straightforward. The best image size to upload is 1702 x 630 pixels at 72 dpi (the cover will appear as 851 x 315 pixels). That will give you a nice sharp image. The upload size for your profile picture should be 180 x 180 pixels (and will appear as 160 x 160 pixels). Remember to use RGB color mode, not CMYK. Generally, the cover should emphasize image over text, so unless your company makes keyboards, let the image do the talking. The graphics should be simple and engaging — remember, you only have a few seconds to capture a potential consumer’s interest, so make the most of that time.

Also, be aware of how your cover image will interact with your profile picture. As you may have noticed, the profile picture overlaps the lower left corner of the cover image. Any text or visual element placed in that corner of your cover will be obscured. The good news is that there are many fun ways to make the cover and profile images interact. Some examples can be found here:

Facebook Cover Case Study 1

Eddie Lin, The Prep Source
Facebook page | 99designs contestThe Prep Source Facebook coverThe Prep Source is an online crowdsourced marketplace (remind you of anyone?) that connects job seekers with potential mentors – industry professionals in the career they would like for themselves. When the company launched its Facebook page in May 2014, they knew they needed a strong cover to drive engagement. The company quickly launched a Facebook cover design contest on 99designs.

If you take a look at The Prep Source’s website and logo, it’s clear that blue is a core part of their brand identity – so it’s no surprise they requested that blue be a prominent color in their Facebook cover design. Given what the company does, they also knew they wanted their community of professionals to be the forefront of the creative. They asked for a design that would make their audience feel upbeat and happy.

99designer took these directions and assembled a design featuring a collage of stock photos and easy-to-read text, creating the comfortable, natural and professional feeling requested by the client.

2. Stay on message

What your Facebook cover image says about your brand is up to you. So choose wisely. Promotions and campaigns will come and go, but your cover image should stay on brand. As your images change over time, you’ll be both building an overarching theme and boosting your brand recognition. Some of the ways businesses use their Facebook cover to promote themselves include:

  • Promote a giveaway — it’s a great way to generate interest and responses.
  • Publish a fun fact — why not share a tidbit that can attract customers?
  • Introduce your team — if you’re in a people business, put your people on your cover.
  • Tout your awards — go ahead and blow your own horn, it’s your page.
  • Introduce new designs, products or services — cover images get the message out there.
  • Mirror your website design — reinforce your brand identity.

And above all, be clear and keep it simple. Even the most casual visitor should be able to determine immediately who you are, what product or service you provide, and why you believe your company offers an advantage over competitors.

Facebook Cover Case Study 2

Ryan Reid, Education Enlightened
Facebook page | 99designs contest

Enlightened Education Facebook cover
Enlightened Education Facebook cover

Ryan Reid is a full-time teacher who recently started a consulting company for teachers and school principals called Education Enlightened. Knowing the importance of a social media presence (especially for newer companies), he went about creating his own – starting on Facebook. He needed a cover design that spread the word about his business and send traffic to his website.

Ryan recently launched a Facebook cover contest on 99designs and ended up with two winning designs! Why two designs, you may be wondering?

“I decided that since my company is still in its infancy, what I may be looking for now in a cover photo may not be what I need six months or a year from now. Purchasing both designs will give me some flexibility with that.”

This brings us to an important point on keeping your content fresh on all channels, while also maintaining branding consistency. 99designers SaTo.graphic and alejandrodesigns created two on-brand designs for Ryan’s Facebook page. By rotating his cover designs, Ryan can show that Education Enlightened is active and engaged online.

3. Keep it moving

Social media is an essential business-to-consumer marketing tool. Don’t be shy about using covers to highlight your product/service. And change the image often enough to keep attracting new consumers. One BIG caution: An idle or outdated cover image sends a negative message. So if your cover image pertains to something time-sensitive (like a giveaway or a new product), be sure it’s current. Your design shows that you are on top of your game and attuned to your market.

If you’re a business that relies heavily on word of mouth, you may consider doing weekly or monthly covers that feature a specific customer’s review, or a testimonial that speaks to the quality of your work. You can even give power to your users and find unique and interesting ways to feature their work on your cover.

Facebook cover design inspiration

For a little inspiration, here are a few Facebook cover designs from our awesome design community:

Le Camping Facebook cover
Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 3.05.00 PM
Underground Facebook cover
Trooper Facebook cover
Swiftly Facebook cover
Shares Facebook cover
Rules of the House Facebook cover
Quoto Facebook cover
Mit Proje Facebook cover
HowTo Network Facebook cover
Hometown Local Facebook cover
Home Loan Guy Facebook cover
Heavy Rock Tube Facebook cover
Empire Cleaning Facebook cover
ECELA Facebook cover
Drilley's Facebook cover
Cambridge Facebook cover
Book Facebook cover

Whatever you decide, Facebook is a powerful social media force, so why not put it to work for you and your brand?

Ready to update your Facebook cover? Launch a contest today!