The Complete Social Media Cover Photo Guide

The Complete Social Media Cover Photo Guide

The Complete Social Media Cover Photo Guide

One of the interesting developments that we’ve seen on social media in recent years is the addition of a “cover photo” to an individual or business’s profile page. Facebook personal profiles and business Pages both sport large graphics at the top of the page. Google+ and Twitter do as well, and even LinkedIn Company Pages can adorn their accounts with a sparkling graphic and message.

While all of these present wonderful business marketing opportunities, the problem lies in the differences. Each network has a completely different set of dimensions, viewable area, positioning and requirements. Therefore, I have put together this resource with information on the following networks (click the one you're looking for if you want to get right to the cover photo requirements):

  1. Facebook
  2. Google+
  3. Twitter
  4. LinkedIn
  5. YouTube

One thing you’re not going to see here is a pretty infograph that demonstrates visually what each network's image dimensions look like. The unfortunate truth is that these facts change multiple times a year, and yet I am constantly seeing outdated infographs still being distributed. Rather than contribute to that misinformation, I will provide you with all of the information that you need in plain text, and then the moment there is a change to any network, it's a quick update to the text and we're good to go.

Similarly, if another network like, say, Pinterest, decides to add this kind of image and customization to their profile pages, I will immediately update this article and let you know. 

So, without further ado, let's get into the specific networks.

Facebook Cover Photo

On Facebook, personal profiles and business pages share identical layouts, so the cover photo image sizes are universal.

Last Changed: 03/07/13 (read details)

Cover Photo:
 - Maximum: 851 x 315
 - Minimum: 399 x 150

 - Maximum File Size: 3MB

Profile Image:
 - Required: 180 x 180
 - Displayed as: 160 x 160

 - Maximum File Size: 15MB

Note that the Profile Image on both profiles and Pages appears in the lower left corner of the header and is placed on top of the cover photo. Currently, 80% of the profile image is over the cover photo on personal profiles, while just 60% is on top of Page cover photos. Keep this in mind when choosing or creating your cover photo. 

Also note that Facebook stipulates that no more than 20% of the cover photo can include text (just like Facebook Ad images). This can include text on objects within a photograph, if Facebook can detect the text, so make sure most of your image is text-free. This restriction was lifted July, 2013. Thanks to a reader for picking that up.

Facebook Cover Photo

On mobile, the image displayed is taller and narrower, and the profile image is displayed entirely within the cover photo.

Facebook Group

If you have a Group on Facebook, you can upload a custom cover photo for that Group as well.

Cover Photo:
- Maximum: 925 x 250

On mobile, the cover photo is displayed in full as a scaled down version.

Google+ Cover Photo

On Google+, personal profiles and business Pages share identical layouts, so the cover photo image sizes are universal. Furthermore, Google+ users need to understand where and how their cover photo is displayed. In addition to appearing above their profile, it also appears anytime their Google+ username appears within Google+ and someone hovers over that name. The resulting popup is referred to as your "Hovercard" and includes your cover photo, profile image, name and a few other pieces of information. As Stephan Hovnanian puts it, "your hovercard becomes a digital business card across that entire social network."

Last Changed: 11/13/13 (read details)

Cover Photo:
 - Recommended: 1080 x 608
 - Maximum: 2120 x 1192
 - Minimum: 480 x 270
 - Displayed as: 920 x 518

 - Maximum File Size: 2MB

Profile Image: 
 - 270 x 270
 - Displays as a Circle

 - Maximum File Size: 100MB

Note that the profile image is currently displayed to the left of the cover photo with a blurred portion of your cover photo behind it. Your entire cover photo is displayed though to the right, and is no longer affected or displayed once you scroll down far enough.

Google+ Cover Photo

On mobile, only the middle 60% of the cover photo is displayed with the profile image just on top of the bottom.

Google+ Community

If you have a Community on Google+, you can also upload a custom image to represent that community.

Community Image:
 - Maximum: 200 x 250

On mobile, the community image is displayed as a small thumbnail.

Google+ Events & Hangouts

Another opportunity for branding within Google+ is when creating Events and Hangout Events. At the top of the Event, you can add a custom image that is particularly important for businesses and individuals who are hosting a recurring Hangout On Air (HOA).

Event Banner: 
 - 1200 x 300

You can also add a custom teaser video to events. This appears below the banner, above the comment stream for the event. The video will be rendered according to the device and browser window being used by the viewer, up to 810 x 460.

Finally, if you're participating in Hangouts and Hangouts On Air, you should definitely consider creating and using a branded "lower third." When you're in a Hangout video chat with other people, you can diplay your name and a graphic across the lower third of your video feed. You can use the Hangout Toolbox to set one up, and you don't have to use a custom graphic. But if you want to, you can upload a "custom overlay" that would appear. The custom overlay must have a transparent background, and should be restricted to text and color on the lower part, simply so as not to cover your head.

Hangout Custom Overlay:
 - 640 x 360 

Twitter Cover Photo

On Twitter, there isn't a different kind of profile for businesses, so everyone's profiles appear the same.

Last Changed: 04/08/14 (read details)

Cover Photo:
 - Maximum: 1500 x 500
 - Visible: 1500 x 389

 - Maximum File Size: 5MB

Profile Image:
 - Maximum: 256 x 256

 - Maximum File Size: 2MB

Twitter Cover Photo

Note that while your cover photo should be uploaded with a 500px height, the upper and lower parts will not be displayed, making the visible height just 389px.

And, like Facebook, a portion of the profile image is superimposed on the lower left corner of the cover photo, rendering that area of the cover photo hidden, so be sure to take that into consideration.

As the viewer's browser changes in size and resolution, the cover photo will be scaled accordingly.

On mobile, the cover photo is currently cropped on the left right and scaled to fit. Additionally, your profile image, name and Twitter handle are supoerimposed over the center of the cover photo.

LinkedIn Cover Photo

On LinkedIn, personal profiles are currently only permitted to use a small profile image - LinkedIn Premium users can now upload a custom Cover Photo. LinkedIn Company Pages are also able to upload a Homepage Image. 7/17 Update: LinkedIn has opened up Cover Photos to all members.

Last Changed: 06/09/12 (read details) - Company Page
Last Changed: 06/05/14 (read details) - Personal Profiles

Personal Profiles

Cover Photo:
 - Recommended: 1400 x 425

 - Maximum File Size: 4MB

Note: Your profile image and profile header will appear superimposed over the lower center of the cover photo, so do not place important information within that section of your image.

Profile Image:
 - Recommended: 200 x 200
 - Maximum: 4000 x 4000

 - Maximum File Size: 4MB 

Company Pages

Cover Photo:
 - Maximum: 646 x 220

 - Maximum File Size: 2MB

Standard Logo:
 - Minimum: 100 x 60
 - Displayed as: 100 x 60

 - Maximum File Size: 2MB

Square Logo:
 - Minimum: 50 x 50
 - Displayed as: 50 x 50

 - Maximum File Size: 2MB

LinkedIn Cover Photo

On mobile, the cover photo is not displayed all.

LinkedIn Group

LinkedIn Groups may also display a cover photo, referred to as a "Hero Image."

Cover Photo:
 - Maximum: 646 x 200

 - Maximum File Size: 2MB

Group Logo:
 - Maximum: 100 x 50

 - Maximum File Size: 100KB

Small Logo:
 - Maximum: 60 x 30

 - Maximum File Size: 100KB

On mobile, the cover photo is not displayed all.

YouTube Cover Photo

If you've taken the time to create a YouTube channel for your business, you have an opportunity there to add some branding as well, referred to by Google and YouTube as Channel Art. And while there is only one "channel art" image, it will render differently depending on how your channel is being viewed.

Last Changed: 02/05/13

Cover Photo:
 - Maximum: 2560 x 1440
 - TV Banner Display: 2560 x 1440
 - Desktop Banner Display: 2560 x 423
 - Mobile Banner Display: 1546 x 423

 - Maximum File Size: 2MB

Profile Image:
 - Rendered: 98 x 98
 - Recommended: 800 x 800

YouTube Cover Photo

Note, if your channel is merged with a Google+ profile or Page, your profile image will be synced with that account. Attempting to edit the YouTube channel profile image will take you to the Google+ profile image edit screen.

When creating your YouTube Channel Art, it is the center area of the image that is displayed on desktop and mobile devices. This is referred to as the "Safe Area" by Google, and that's where it's recommended that you put your most important visual elements.

Also note that the profile image is displayed in the upper left corner over that section of your cover photo.

Pinterest

Currently, Pinterest only allows a single profile image sized at 165 x 165.

How To Create Great Social Media Cover Photos

Clearly, simply knowing the dimensions for each cover photo isn't sufficient. If you want to use the cover photo feature to help convey your business brand and message, some skill and effort needs to be put toward creating a professional looking graphic.

If you can, hiring a professional designer is the preferred route to go. These are graphic elements that should be considered business assets, and a critical part of your social media marketing strategy. The cover photo is an image that will help communicate who you are and what you can do for potential customers, and is therefore vitally important. And a designer can do so much more than create a graphic that fits these requirements. A skilled designer understands the importance of color and layering and positioning. They can bring a trained eye to the use of fonts and text and images so that every element of the graphic communicates to the viewer very specifically and deliberately. If you'd like to chat with The Social Media Hat's designer about a social media branding package, contact us.

Some of you may have experience using professional-grade tools, or have a graphic designer on staff. If that's the case, you may be interested in checking out these templates put together and updated by my friend and colleague Dustin W. Stout.

Social Media Cover Photo Templates: http://dustn.ws/1iS9Sq0 

If you need to create graphics for yourself, but are not or cannot hire a professional designer, my recommendation is to use Canva.com. With Canva, you can create gorgeous looking graphics very inexpensively. The tool itself is free to use; only some of the stock images will cost you if you choose to use them. If you aren't familiar with the tool, I highly recommend that the first thing you do once you've created your account is to run through the tutorials. You can get through all of them in about an hour, and doing so will not only familiarize yourself with the tool and your design options, but also give you some great ideas and design tips that you can apply to your new graphic.

Once you're ready to begin, at the top of the home page are template sizes for various kinds of graphics. Some of the social networks are represented, but the easiest thing to do is to choose Custom and simply enter the dimensions above for whichever social network you're starting with. That will present you with a blank canvas, perfectly sized, on which to begin creating your new social media cover photo.

How To Use Your Social Media Cover Photos

Before we get into some ideas on how you might use your social media cover photos, let's go over a few tips on how not to use them.

  • Never use images you do not own. If stock images are desired, purchase them through one of the many available stock services, or try buying imagery within Canva for just $1 each. Even images labelled for reuse and modification according to Creative Commons should not be used, since you have no method for giving credit to the image owner.
  • Avoid excessive Sales and Marketing language.
  • Never use images that are of poor quality or the wrong size. Stretched, blurry or grainy images will reflect poorly on your business.

Now that that's out of the way, let's run through some ideas on what you can do!

  1. Showcase new products or services
  2. Promote an exclusive deal for fans on that network
  3. Use holiday or seasonal imagery
  4. Celebrate company news and milestones
  5. Create urgency and offer a call to action
  6. Demonstrate what you do
  7. Compare and contrast you and your competition
  8. Cross-promote social platforms
  9. Spotlight a customer or partner
  10. Creatively coordinate your cover photo and profile image

Since you can change your cover photo as often as you wish, don't be afraid to change it up for special events and holidays, even quirky days like Groundhog's Day.

PRO TIP: On both Facebook and Google+, the image you upload for your cover photo is treated by the network just like any of your other uploaded images. It can have a description and receive Likes/+1's, comments and even shares. And if someone is viewing your profile on desktop (and mobile on Facebook), they will be able to see that image's description. Take advantage of this "Easter Egg" and leave a personalized message to fans that find it.

That should get you well on your way to a consistently branded set of social media cover photos. If you think you have a great cover photo and want to, show it off, leave a comment with a link to that profile in the comments below and we'll all take a look!


Mike is a Social Media Consultant and Blog Coach in St. Louis. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's. He is active on all of the major social networks and enjoys writing and teaching small business owners on how to leverage the Internet to promote and grow their business. Mike provides training and seminars to businesses and individuals on topics like "Content Marketing - Using Blogging + Social Media + SEO to equal Small Business Success" or "Establishing a Brand on Google+" or "How to use HootSuite to Manage Your Social Media Presence."

Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management."

To schedule a consultation or to book Mike for a workshop or seminar, please complete the online contact form.

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