In typical Facebook fashion, Facebook has quietly changed the guidelines pertaining to what you can & cannot do with your Fan Page's cover photo.
I mentioned in a previous blogpost the Facebook images rule that prohibits cover photos from having more than 20% text on them -- which is pretty arbitrary & hard to measure.
But now Facebook has made drastic changes to its Cover Photo guidelines.
Old Guidelines for Facebook Cover Photos:
All covers are public. This means that anyone who visits your Page will be able to see your cover. Covers can't be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else's copyright. You may not encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines.
Covers may not include:
- images with more than 20% text;
- price or purchase information, such as "40% off" or "Download it on socialmusic.com";
- contact information such as website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page's "About" section;
- references to Facebook features or actions, such as "Like" or "Share" or any arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
- calls to action, such as "Get it now" or "Tell your friends."
New Guidelines for Facebook Cover Photos:
All covers are public. This means that anyone who visits your Page will be able to see your cover. Covers can't be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else's copyright. You may not encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines. Covers may not include images with more than 20% text.
These guidelines can be seen here (you may need to clear your cache to see the new version): http://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php
While discussing the change with Hugh Briss from Social Identities, we noticed that some people in the UK were not seeing the new, shortened version of the guidelines.
I find it interesting that the last revision date on the guidelines still reads December 17, 2012 -- although this change just happened this week around March 18, 2013.
My guess is that Facebook is making this change because enforcing intent is basically impossible. Enforcing the new "20% text" rule, however, is very easy to do. And it kind of automatically limits you from doing many of previously prohibited items (calls to action, price, contact information, etc.)
What Should You Do Now?
My stance has always been that the cover photo is simply your chance to brand yourself in the eyes of your page visitors. It's not a billboard to market with -- since hardly anyone is going to see it anyway.
Then again, as I mentioned in a recent post giving you tips on how to jump start your Facebook page -- with the new News Feed Facebook launching, when people like your page, a cropped version of your cover photo will show in the news feed of the new fan's friends -- so you should definitely be creative with that bit that shows.
Are You Breaking the Rules?
Figuring out if your cover photo breaks the 20% text rule is tough. Apparently Facebook has set up a grid that contains 25 boxes on it. If you have text in more than 5 boxes you are in violation of the rule -- even if the box only contains a small portion of text.
My opinion is they need to use a grid with 50-100 boxes to be more accurate. Below I ran a test on Post Planner's cover photo -- and as you can see we have text in 8 boxes. But in most of those boxes the text is taking up a very small portion of the box. Would this be a violation of the rules?
In the end, this rule change isn't as big of a deal as many seem to think it is.
Really Facebook just simplified the rules -- and boiled it down to a very basic 20% text rule: "Put whatever text you want on your cover, but keep it under 20%."
What are your thoughts on this "new" rule change?