You're a small business owner.
You know that anyone remotely tech-savvy promotes their business on social media.
It looks easy enough to set up, so you jump in. You write a quick description, address, link to the website, and you're off!
But what do you do with the profile picture and cover photo?
Anyone can throw random images in there; not you. You want your business to shine. This is your baby.
So with people like you in mind, we're going to look at 12 simple tips for improving your profile / cover picture game, and give you a strategy that understands the purpose of these two media slots.
Before we jump in...
It's always helpful to learn from the pros.
A company investing money in social media, is going to pick up a thing or two on how it should be done, so check out the Facebook pages of two or more of your favourite insanely large companies with insanely large social media budgets. Or click 'em all. You know you want to. (These open in new tabs)
If you clicked more than one, you noticed a pattern. Each company uses 1) the symbol portion of their logo as their profile picture (e.g. Instagram's camera icon), and 2) a mood-setting photo or graphic (with very little text) as their cover photo; Clearly Sharp has also done this:
The cynical view would be that huge companies all fit themselves into the same mold because corporate, unoriginal, out-of-touch, cookie-cutter or something like that.
The humble / accurate view (as we will see) is that these companies understand the PURPOSE of profile pictures and cover photos, and we can learn from them.
So without further ado, here are 12 simple tips for improving your profile / cover pic game; these are divided into 6 dos and don'ts each.
1. Use the symbol part of your logo as a profile picture
Your symbol (if properly designed) is the most portable representation you have for your company. Your profile picture appears in several different forms and sizes across Facebook, so it needs to be flexible. As we will see, there are problems with using text in your profile picture.
What if you don't have a symbol? Fear not:
2. Use a first letter / abbreviation as a profile picture.
If you don't have a logo yet, or if your logo doesn't have a symbol, a great alternative is to use a simple abbreviation of your name (white on a coloured background always looks good).
Try to match the font and color scheme of your logo (or a colour that fits your business) for best results. If done correctly this should give you a simpler, more flexible version of your logo that will work in areas where your full logo text won't.
In case you didn't look already, this is exactly what Netflix does.
As another alternative:
3. Use a headshot photo of the business owner as your profile picture.
This may not be as effective as your business gets bigger, but for small, local businesses (especially where the owner is the recognizable "face" of the company), simple, well photographed headshots can offer a nice personal touch.
4. DON'T use your company's name in your profile picture.
All three of the previous tips recognized that your profile picture needs to be portable; it needs to be discernible at very small sizes.
Your company name is not portable (with a possible exception for very short names like hulu).
99% of the time, your company will be represented as a tiny bubble next to your posts on social media. Too much text, and your profile picture won't be legible.
5. DON'T use a photo for your profile picture.
The principle here is the same. Think portable. Most photos are not going to be recognizable on the tiny bubble next to every post you make.
There are exceptions, of course, like the photo headshot described earlier, or possibly a simple object photographed up close (like a coffee mug for a cafe).
6. Don't put anything in your profile picture that will be ruined by a circle.
Don't forget that your profile picture will regularly be cropped into a circle, so keep all essential information out of the corners.
That's it for profile pictures!
1. Use your cover photo to set the mood or style of your business.
You have much more flexibility with a cover photo than a profile picture; it always appears in a large format. Photos of your products, store front, business interior, or even a well-curated piece of stock photography will do.
Are there patterns associated with your business? Target does a wonderful job of incorporating both patterns and photography into a well rounded cover photo that really sets the tone for their page.
Bonus points if you can match colors with your profile picture!
2. Use a simple color / gradient to fill your cover.
Color says a lot. If you can't find the right piece of photography, maybe set the mood with a splash of your business color scheme. Sound too simple? Sometimes simple is better. Don't distract from your content; set the tone for your content.
Noted social network, Instagram thought it was a good idea.
3. Include your company's (short) tagline / slogan on your cover photo.
As we'll see later, filling your cover photo with text is a bad idea, but for a short slogan, your cover photo is the perfect spot! Cover photos and slogans can work hand-in-hand to set the tone for your page.
4. DON'T rely on the edges of your cover photo.
Facebook displays your cover photo at a slightly different aspect ratio on mobile devices. You don't really need to know exact dimensions, just don't count on things displaying correctly in the margins of your photo.
5. DON'T use your cover photo for a company name or full text logo.
This one might be a bit controversial with some, but consider this: Facebook already displays your company name beneath your profile picture, and if you're doing it right, you're displaying your symbol in your profile picture; why reproduce either of these again in your cover photo? It's awkward, and unnecessary.
6. DON'T fill your cover photo with text.
You don't need to tell your life story on the cover photo; just set the tone. As mentioned earlier, a single slogan or tagline will do. Your text needs to breath. Give it some space.
You're on your way!
If you found any of this helpful, maybe toss us a like over on Facebook so you can stay in the loop on new content from Clearly Sharp.
If you need some backup in the design department, have a look at our work, and get in touch about your next logo, print, or web project!