Implementing Effective Social Media Header Images
Social networks are a very visual medium, and when brands are constantly vying for attention and competing with others, a strong and immediate visual impact is vital. This is where social media header images can become an effective tool. The cover image on each of your social media pages is the first thing a visitor will see; it is a “social media billboard” for your brand that should reflect your company’s values, and engage the viewer, encouraging them to scroll down your page and subsequently interact with your content. It is an easily manageable piece of content that can be changed regularly, perhaps coinciding with new products, or certain events within the year.
Best practices when creating a social media cover image:
1. The simpler, the better Your cover image doesn’t need to be over thought – even something as simple as a captivating image that embodies your brand can work well. Think about the tone of your brand, what you want to communicate, and what will appeal to your audience.
2. Keep text to a minimum The use of text within a cover image is open to debate – whilst it can be effective to include a CTA, hash tag or website URL within the header, too much text can ruin the appeal of a captivating image. A way to get around this could be to include extra information in the description of your cover image instead. It’s also useful to keep in mind how text within the image would appear on smaller devices, such as mobile.
Over 1 billion users accessed Facebook via mobile every month at the start of 2014, therefore it is vital to ensure that what mobile users see works just as well as the desktop header. Social media users have a tendency to rapidly flick through pages when browsing on mobile, so an eye-catching header could stop them in their tracks and encourage them to browse your page.
3. Centre or right align content The biggest challenge of creating social media cover images is bridging the gap between the different formats – the dimensions of a desktop header are completely different to those for mobile and tablet, meaning what looks great on desktop will probably not work so well on smaller devices, and vice versa. And until you can upload different images for each device, the easiest way to avoid these visual mishaps is to centre or right-align content. Be it text, or the focal point of an image, it’s best to completely avoid the area behind the cover photo, and also the lower half of the image where your profile name and other information usually sits. Also, it may sound obvious, but make sure you check output across all devices, allowing you to make any necessary amends before loads of visitors see it.
4. Consistency across different social networks Most brands utilise a number of different social networks, each of which has a different dimension of cover image. Although it’s important to keep consistency between networks, it is unwise to use the same image for all as it will most likely be stretched or cropped to fit the space, generally with a detrimental effect. There are many “cheat sheets” and guides to social media header sizes online, and it usually doesn’t take much to tweak your cover images to the correct format whilst retaining a consistency of style. On another note, taking visuals from recent adverts can help build a stronger brand recognition.
5. Be original Finally, why not try to be a bit more creative with your cover image and really use it to your advantage? Cover photo integration can work really well, allowing it to interact with the rest of the page. This could be in the form of arrows pointing out other elements, such as the ‘like’ button, or related apps. You could also try joining your cover and profile images with one image.
Choosing or creating images for social media headers can be a very simple task if you keep yourself informed of changing dimension sizes and are aware of how your image translates to different devices. These headers can be a useful bit of visual content which you might overlook, but when you think about how many people see it, it is actually a low-cost but very effective way to engage users. So use it to your advantage!