Most web traffic is now mobile, but we can forget that when considering how to make a pretty Facebook Page, leading to ugly header images that are cropped in weird ways — a terrible first impression to prospective new readers.
The tipping point with mobile was probably reached some time in late 2016 or early 2017, yet here we are in 2018, often still optimizing for desktop, when most of our customers are accessing our web pages and viewing our ads on mobile devices of some description — not just phones but tablets of all kinds too.
When I was redesigning this website, I was very conscious of that and made sure it was responsive and looked good for all screen sizes. And that requires more than just the screen resizing and things still being legible and images rendering correctly and buttons still working and navigation remaining intuitive. You also have to think about things like sign-up pages and sidebars too.
One thing that seems to get regularly forgotten about is your Facebook Page. We all understand the importance of having a pretty Facebook Page these days — particularly if you are investing in ever-more-expensive ads, it’s crucial to have an enticing welcome on your Page itself, so you can catch as many “spillover” Likes as possible from your ad spend. Anything that helps with ROI these days is sorely welcome.
Unfortunately, it seems that lots of authors haven’t checked what their Facebook Page looks like on mobile, which can lead to some cropping of that desktop-friendly image. There is contradictory advice out there on how to resolve it, which doesn’t help, and lots of info that is out of date too as Facebook keeps changing the recommended dimensions in an ongoing effort to improve the mobile experience.
I combed through all the advice online and did a bit of testing myself, and put together not just one solution, but two, and you can choose whichever approach suits the image you would like to use—because most sites advise an approach which leads to side-cropped images, when sometimes only a top crop will do.
By the way, the below was sent to my mailing list over the summer, and those lucky ducks have been swanning around with mobile-optimized Facebook Cover Photos for five whole months now, snaffling readers from under your inexpertly cropped noses. If you want to join that crew and get the drop on the latest marketing advice every Friday gratis then sign up here. You get a free book too!
For those of you who are already on my soon-to-be-universally-acclaimed mailing list and feast each Friday on these multifarious marketing morsels, I won’t leave you high-and-dry. You can check out this guest post I did over at the BookBub Partners Blog today — Book Marketing Mistakes You Need To Stop Making. The rest of you can read that in a few minutes. First, scroll down and we’ll give your Facebook Page a quick makeover.
The reason we are starting here is because an enticing Facebook Page will collect Likes for us passively in the background — and these “organic” Likes are some of the best quality Likes you can get, costing nothing too. Also, having a tricked-out Facebook Page will also increase the “free” spillover Likes we get from any advertising, helping with that ever-slippier ROI. Facebook helpfully encourages users to Like advertiser pages in various ways, but you aren’t going to get many spillover Likes if your page looks like this one by my lazy friend, who was in no way invented for this spurious exercise.
Jeremiah No Goode if you ask me! *awkward laughter*
There are a whole variety of ways you can pretty up your Facebook Page and make it enticing to your target audience, but two things are key: engaging content, and a nice Facebook Page Cover Photo (that’s the official term for the banner-like image at the top of your Page). We’ll get into the topic of content marketing another day; here we’ll focus on making a good first impression with a neat, on brand image.
In its continuing mission to keep graphic designers busy, Facebook is always tinkering with image sizes. Compounding this is the rather problematic issue of the plethora of screen sizes out there, and how to serve images on all those different devices without distorting them.
Facebook has made it simple in one sense — we can only upload one image for all these different audiences — but complicated in another as that image will be cropped differently on different devices AND it will either crop the sides or the top/bottom, depending on what shape image we upload.
Confused? Good. That means these images I prepared won’t go to waste!
You will get tons of different answers if you Google something like “Facebook Page Cover Photo Size 2018” — some of which contradict each other and many of which are plain wrong, quite frankly. I’ve done endless testing on this, so I can set you straight. And maybe give you some extra options you didn’t know you had.
Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t just one optimal image size for a Facebook Page Cover, there are two. Facebook will always display a more postcard-shaped image on Mobile and a kind of letterbox shape on Desktop, and it will either crop the top/bottom or the two sides, depending on which image size of those two you choose to upload.
I know what you’re thinking (“where’s the whiskey?”) but don’t do what many authors do and just upload a Desktop-friendly image. While it’s tempting to not give a Jerusalem fig what Mobile looks like, that’s also a huge mistake. Most traffic is Mobile now, as that includes all tablets as well as phones, so don’t be lazy here. Some images can look TERRIBLE on Mobile. You don’t want your first impression to a potential new reader being one of a sloppy-ass mofo who couldn’t be bothered tucking in his shirt and combing his hair. That particular delight can be saved for meatspace.
And this bit of fussiness is actually a godsend, in a way, because you can choose whether you want your image cropped at the top/bottom, or at the sides, so it looks prettiest on all devices. And some images you may wish to use will only be suitable for cropping one way or the other — as I’ll explain shortly with hotly anticipated visual aids.
Plus, I’m going to make this pretty easy for you, so stop grousing. Yes, I can hear you.
I’ll lay out your options and point out what you need to watch out for, and illustrate it all with examples. That should give (or your designer) enough ideas to get going, and you can test it all on a “fake” Facebook Page like I did, if you like. As for the images themselves, getting a pro to do this is very cheap, particularly when getting your covers designed, but you can also fool around yourself Canva. But whether you do it yourself, or outsource, you’ll need to know this stuff, so read on padre.
Facebook officially advises… well the official advice is kind of crap actually. A little misleading, and most definitely incomplete. I vote for ignoring it altogether as it just confuses more than anything. And it completely neglects one of the options here, because, as I said, you have two: the Side Crop, which is the standard approach recommended everywhere, and the Top Crop — which many advice articles miss out on.
For the Side Crop, you need to upload an 828×315 image. That’s what will display on Desktop. Here’s an example from our friend Jeremiah.
While he’s mending his lazy ways, he hasn’t been thorough enough, because you also need to factor Mobile into your design, and, in the above example, a good chunk of those sides will be lopped off. Like so:
Nightmare! Imagine that was your new release or website address or something else really important you needed readers to see? And that’s aside from the fact it looks pretty unprofessional.
So many writers do this. Which is a shame, because it’s not really that complicated once you wrap your head around the idea that you should include no important stuff at the sides as more than half of visitors to your Page won’t see it. Like this:
But hey, I hear you say from the other end of the internet tubes, what if I have an image which I really need to use which has important stuff at the sides? Don’t be mad, Chad. Get ready for the Top Crop!
You can “trick” Facebook into lopping off the top and bottom instead by upload a slightly different sized image — namely 828×461. And you really might need that option if, for example, you want a new Facebook Cover Photo to celebrate Book 9 of your bestselling series. Just remember to factor where that cropping happens into your design.
Here’s what a Top Crop looks like on mobile — still at 828×461 because this time the cropping happens on Desktop. Notice I put nothing important at the top/bottom this time.
Hey, a gal can dream.
This is what it looks like on Desktop with that cropping in play.
This isn’t the place to get into branding too deeply, but aside from when you are pushing a certain book at launch or promo time perhaps, you should consider having consistent branding across your entire web presence. I’ll give you a real-world example using my own Facebook Page.
This is my Facebook Cover Photo. At least, this is what it looks like on Desktop.
And here is what it looks like on Mobile.
Aaaaaand then this is the homepage of this here website.
I hope these examples help. If you need a handy recap, this is one of the better articles on the optimal size for Facebook Cover Photos and you might get some general branding ideas from this Hubspot article on Cover Photos.
Once you have prettied up your Facebook Page, you are ready to start rolling out organic content to grow your Facebook Likes.
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I send out advice like the above every single Friday to the thousands of authors on my marketing mailing list, where we regularly cover all sorts of marketing topics from newsletter engagement and creating superfans, to launches and relaunches, and advertising on BookBub, Facebook, and AMS. It’s all free, no catch, so if you aren’t signed up, you really should do that here.
And if you haven’t checked out my post over at BookBub, get to it!