As the main image on social media pages, cover photos convey a brand’s ethos. They give potential customers a first impression of your business’s goals and identity, so they should not be an afterthought. Learn how to visually draw in your audience with a cover photo that communicates your voice, product, and values.
What is a cover photo?
A cover photo is a graphic found at the top of social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and X (formerly Twitter). Separate from the smaller profile picture, which often features a brand’s logo, this background or banner image gives you the opportunity to visually connect with your audience.
For example, a makeup brand that uses its logo for its profile picture might choose a cover image in a complementary color scheme to advertise an event it’s hosting in the hope of encouraging customers to attend. A cover photo is also a blank canvas that opens up space for creativity.
Where do cover photos appear?
Here’s where a cover photo appears on various platforms:
The Facebook cover photo appears at the top of your profile page and spans the entire width. Brands can use a Facebook cover photo to showcase their personality, products, services, or promotions.
Often called the “background photo,” LinkedIn’s cover photo appears at the top of the profile behind the profile picture. Since brands use LinkedIn to spotlight industry news and their accomplishments, the cover photo is a good place to highlight a guiding principle that aligns with your brand.
Known as the “header image” on X, the cover image appears at the top of the page, spanning the width of the profile. You can use X’s header images to reflect the personality of an individual account, promote a campaign, or display branding elements.
The perfect cover photo communicates a broader message, exhibits unique visuals, and sets the tone for a profile or page. Just as companies use each social media platform for different purposes, they can create cover photos that are specific to each of their profiles.
Why use a cover photo?
Cover photos offer certain advantages:
Increase brand recognition
A cover photo is a supplementary feature that works in concert with your logo, brand colors, and other visual elements associated with your business. Together, they tell your company’s story and help audiences recognize what defines you.
Showcase products or promotions
Your cover photo is also a chance to showcase what you offer and encourage people to further explore your company. If you’re launching a new product, service, or promotion, you can use a cover photo with text to deliver that information.
Use your cover photo as a way to pull back the curtain and show the successes and big moments happening behind the scenes. Display a team photo to celebrate an anniversary. Share a candid image from an awards ceremony to spotlight the team that made the win possible. Add an image from your company’s early days to show how far you’ve come.
What should my cover photo be?
- Branded illustrations or custom artwork
- Free or no-license stock imagery
- Team or employee spotlight
- Product or campaign spotlight
- Customer reviews
- Educational or social content
What you choose for your cover photo depends on your specific brand, goals, and the platform you’re using. Here are a few ways to create an eye-catching cover photo:
Branded illustrations or custom artwork
Custom artwork can make for a visually engaging cover photo design. Ensure the illustration aligns with your style, color scheme, and message to help reinforce your identity. For example, on its Facebook page, Vera Bradley’s cover photo features a colorful floral print that is part of the company’s 2023 fall collection.
Free or no-license stock imagery
Since they are free and customizable, free or no-license stock photos are a great choice if you have a small budget. You can add text overlays or other cover photo design elements to make an image more representative of your brand. Choose stock photography that aligns with your overall brand. For example, a company that sells outdoor gear might choose an image of a snowy mountain peak. A skincare brand might select an image of a dewdrop.
Team or employee spotlight
Showcase a team photo or spotlight an employee to add a human touch to your brand. Add a brief caption or quotes to introduce a team member and their specific role. If your audience can see the people behind the team, they can build a connection to your brand.
Product or campaign spotlight
You can feature your products and services or announce special campaigns. In September 2023, Simon Says Stamp teased its STAMPtember celebration—an exclusive collection of crafting supplies—with its cover photo. While the cover photo does not share many details, it complements the brand’s posts that delve into the different collaborators they teamed up with and the people that made the event possible.
You can use your cover photo to highlight positive customer testimonials or reviews. Social proof can build trust and credibility, and a prominently displayed recommendation from a verified customer goes a long way. If your audience can see the impact your products and services make, they might feel compelled to interact with your brand.
Educational or social content
If your brand focuses on education, knowledge sharing, or social causes, consider using your cover photo to promote informative content that aligns with your brand. For example, if your company sells water bottles, you can add a cover image that shows visitors how to calculate how much water you should drink each day.
Tips for choosing cover photos
- Follow size and specification requirements
- Aim for brand alignment and consistency
- Go for simplicity and clarity
- Update regularly
- Make it cohesive with your profile image
- Add a call to action
Cover photos can leave a lasting impression on social media users. Here are a few tips for creating and using cover photos for your online profiles:
Follow size and specification requirements
Adhere to the platform’s recommended photo dimensions for the cover image. Different platforms have different photo size specifications. For example, the Facebook cover photo size differs greatly from the one on LinkedIn.
Ensure your cover image meets these requirements:
- Facebook: at least 400 pixels wide and 150 pixels tall
- LinkedIn: at least 1128 pixels wide by 191 pixels tall
- X: 1500 pixels wide by 500 pixels tall
Along with the photo size specifications, you should use high-resolution images and graphics to ensure your cover photo looks professional and doesn’t appear pixelated or blurry.
Aim for brand alignment and consistency
A cover photo should align with a brand’s identity, including the color scheme, fonts, and overall style. Consistency across all branding elements helps audiences understand your brand.
Go for simplicity and clarity
Keep the cover photo simple and clear by avoiding cluttered imagery and excessive text. A busy image can overwhelm the viewer and make it difficult to understand your message.
An outdated cover photo can make your profile or page appear neglected or unresponsive. To avoid that, update the image regularly—once a month or quarter—to reflect changes in brand promotions, seasons, or campaigns. Continually seek fresh photo ideas from your team.
Make it cohesive with your profile image
Cover photos and profile pictures should complement each other and create a cohesive visual identity for your brand. A mismatched profile picture and cover photo can create visual misalignment on your page, which can confuse or put off a new viewer. Aim to make your profile image and cover photo cohesive by choosing complementary colors, simple patterns, and minimal text.
Add a call to action
Consider adding a call to action—such as “Learn More,” “Shop Now,” or “Sign Up”—to encourage visitors to continue to interact with your brand. Some platforms, like Facebook, even allow you to add CTA buttons to your cover photo.
Cover photos FAQ
Is a cover photo the same as a banner?
You can use the terms “cover photos” and “banners” interchangeably. For example, you can call it both a “Facebook cover photo” or a “Facebook banner.” Different platforms might use different terminology, but the concept is generally the same. Both refer to a large, prominently displayed image at the top of a webpage or social media profile that serves as a visual focal point.
Do I need a cover photo?
A cover photo is a valuable tool for enhancing online presence and storytelling. It can help establish brand identity, engage visitors, share important messages or promotions, and make a positive first impression.
What are some cover photo mistakes to avoid?
A good cover photo design contributes to your online presence and brand identity. Avoid using low-quality images that do not speak to the quality of your brand, overcrowding the cover photo with too much text or patterns, using images or visual elements without proper usage rights, and keeping the same photo for six months or more.