Back in 2011, Facebook launched its ‘Timeline’, which brought with it a new feature called the cover photo — a large banner image splayed out across the top of each user’s profile. Facebook positioned it as a new way to visually showcase “who you are or what you care about,” and encouraged both individuals and companies to jump on board.

In 2012, Twitter followed suit with its header photo feature, described as a means to “express yourself instantly, anywhere.”

At first, these new features came as a welcome addition to our news feeds. Suddenly, that profile picture of you doing a keg stand could be balanced out with an artfully displayed cover photo of the Louvre that you took while travelling around Europe — after all, you’re cultured, too! This feature not only helped to pretty up our profile pages, but also provided a touch more creative freedom to share with the world a more well-rounded portrayal of what we’re all about.

But for companies, this feature became something else entirely. All of a sudden, companies had a shiny new tool to customize their page and showcase their brand. Some nailed it straight off the bat, uploading expertly designed images with real visual impact. Others? Well, let’s just say that, for many, it’s still very much a work in progress.

You see, the challenge with cover photos and header images is the size. For example, Facebook’s cover photo must be at least 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall for it to display effectively. The problem is, these measurements mean very little to anyone not immersed in the world of design.

It’s easy enough to crop a photo within Facebook or Twitter — but if you’re trying to make, say, a square .jpeg of a logo stretch across the screen, the effect is rather different. And so, what was originally intended to allow companies to show off their brands instead led to an influx of Facebook pages and Twitter profiles featuring overstretched, weirdly pixelated cover images doing anything but.

Which leads us back to the question: Does this image make me look fat? In a word, yes — if you’re not uploading properly sized images, that is. It’s like being a size small but refusing to wear anything but XL, or vice versa. Either way, you aren’t presenting yourself in the best light. And, in a work context, it might be considered unprofessional.

The most important thing to remember about social media is that your company’s Facebook page or Twitter profile is an extension of your brand — and that includes everything from the images you post to the copy used to accompany them. You might have the world’s best-designed website or company brochures, but if your social media account looks like an experiment in Photoshop gone badly wrong, your audience will begin to doubt your credibility.

So, do yourself a favour. If you’ve gone to the trouble to develop beautiful print and online marketing materials, go that one step further and make sure the same level of professionalism applies to your social media marketing efforts.

Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

  1. If you’re unsure how to correctly size images, work with a designer. It’s the easiest way to not only ensure your image fits, but also that it accurately and professionally represents your brand.
  1. Don’t be tempted to use pre-existing marketing collateral that isn’t fit for purpose. That fantastic flyer you had designed will be barely recognizable and completely ineffective as a banner image after it’s been stretched out or oddly cropped.
  1. Make optimal use of the space provided. In other words, don’t hide content behind your profile picture. For instance, if you’re trying to promote an event using a cover photo, make sure the text containing the event information is clearly visible and not restricted from view by your profile picture (on that note, be sure to use text sparingly).
  1. Try to strike a balance between the types of images you’re using. For example, if your profile picture is your company logo, avoid using your logo as part of your cover image. Instead, look to use an image that represents your industry or contains your company tagline. If in doubt, a designer can advise on the overall look of your graphics.
  1. Know your file types. For example, when it comes to social media, a .png image showcases text-based graphics much clearer than a .jpeg, which works best for anything photo-related.

Still not sure how to make the most of your company’s social media accounts? Drop us a line or give us a call — we’d be glad to help.