Facebook Relaxes Page Cover Image Rules: Use This Tool to Test 20% Rule

Facebook Relaxes Page Cover Image Rules: Use This Tool to Test 20% Rule

Facebook recently (quietly) changed its Page Guidelines around Cover Images. Previously, you could not have any price or purchase information, contact information, references to Facebook features, or calls to action. Now, you can.

The main rule that remains in place for Cover Images is that you cannot exceed 20% text. Why is this? So that the News Feed remains visually appealing and isn’t covered in giant text-based advertisements. 😉

Not sure what 20% text looks like? See below for a nifty tool to test whether your cover image (or any fan page cover image!) adheres to the 20% text rule! Just pop in the fan page ID (the part after the facebook.com/), click load Cover-Photo, then click the areas of your image containing text:


Got Facebook questions? Come join my community of over 470,000 Friends, Fans and Followers! Just click the Follow and Like buttons below to connect with me on Facebook!

Cover Image examples

By way of example, here is a cover image I threw together as a demo (top screenshot) and how it looks after going through the 20% test tool (lower screenshot). My simple calculation was 851 x .2 = 170. Everything to the right of the white vertical line is 170 pixels (with one excerpt on the left as my logo). One critical component when including calls to action on your Cover Image is to make sure you have the actual link in the description part of the photo, e.g. this is the narrative I have: Please take a just a few minutes to complete this 2013 Social Media Survey and get instant access to my latest FREE Special Report: 10 Facebook Marketing Do’s & Don’ts as a thank you! You ROCK! http://bit.ly/mari_survey

Mari Smith - new Facebook cover image

Mari Smith - Facebook cover image 20% test

After putting my cover photo to the 20% text test!

Here is HubSpot‘s revised cover photo. Of course, with a call to action like this, you have to be sure to include the link you want your visitors to click through to! HubSpot’s narrative for this image is: Download “16 Companies in ‘Boring’ Industries Creating Remarkable Content” here: http://hub.am/14caEHw

hubspot facebook cover image example

Facebook’s revised Page Guidelines

As you can see from the screenshot below, the rules have been significantly relaxed. Though the newest Page Guidelines revision date now states March 6th (the day before Facebook’s last press conference when the new News Feed design was unveiled), the change of date was made retroactively on March 20th.

Facebook cover image rules

Facebook’s revised cover image rules

Just as an aside, I posted the above screenshot with the new cover image rules (thanks to a heads up from Grandma Mary and Social Identities) on my Facebook fan page on March 19th, and it’s since become my MOST popular post of all time with an organic + viral (not paid) reach of 137,024. This surpasses my previous most popular post from September 24, 2011 with an organic/viral (not paid) reach of 133, 431. Though it’s taken me 18 months and twice the fans, it’s good to see the reach numbers up so high again.

Permanent change?

(Of course, we never know if anything is “permanent” on Facebook!) InsideFacebook, HubSpot and MarketingLand were among the first to blog about the change to Facebook’s cover image rules. However, not everyone was in full agreement as to whether this change was official and/or permanent.

It seems that Facebook’s Manager of Small Business, Australia and New Zealand addressed a local conference stating that the cover image rules had not been changed officially and that they would be reverting back to the original terms of service within a couple of weeks. Hm, say whaat? This caused a great deal of frustration and confusion among local social media experts and business owners presenting this information back to U.S. based counterparts. Despite the fact both InsideFacebook and HubSpot stated in their respective articles that they had verified the change was official and permanent, I also reached out to my Facebook contact, who confirmed there had been a change in the rules:

“Reason being is that with the new news feed design change, Page like ads take the cover photo from a Page, so we relaxed the rules a bit.”

Cover images in new News Feed

Yes, that’s right. Not only will your Page like ads showcase your cover image, when the shiny new News Feed rolls out, whenever someone likes your fan page, a portion of your cover image will go out into the News Feed of that person’s friends. This is something to get excited about and to keep in mind when designing your future cover images. Along with the new relaxed rules, you’ll want to get strategic about what you place and where, given only a portion of the cover image seems to display in the News Feed. (Just as soon as we find out the dimensions, I’ll be sure to update this post and announce on my fan page). Actual cover image dimensions are the same: 851 by 315 pixels.

New Facebook page displays in news feed

Facebook page cover image displays in new News Feed

So, how will you make use of the new relaxed rules? Have you already updated your Facebook fan page cover image? Please do share in the comments below and feel free to post a link to your page to let us see!


Mari Smith

Forbes Top Social Media Power Influencer | Facebook Marketing Expert | Globe-trotting Speaker, Author | 'Mari like Ferrari' | Bubbly Scottish-Canadian!

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  1. Kelly Fitzgerald on March 25, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Cool tool! My cover photo passed with flying colors ;o) https://www.facebook.com/KelFitzPhoto

  2. Roz Fruchtman on March 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    THANK YOU so much Mari. Now that I’ve read this over, and more slowing, I’m truly excited with all the changes. It’s all about the images and how we portray ourselves visually in this case! WOWEE!!!

  3. Scott Ayres on March 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I think your cover Mari wouldn’t pass technically speaking though. I think it would take up 6 boxes as you need to included the one box you didn’t include that shows your book on it. Eventhough the text is only taking up maybe 10% of that box. This is why Facebook needs to go with a 50 grid box instead of a 25.

  4. Phyllis Khare on March 25, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    ummm I think images of products don’t count for the 20% Scott. that was my understanding of the new rules. Which makes me think that the cover for our book page – even though it is full of book covers with tons of text – is not breaking the rules. I would LOVE to talk to a human person and show them the image and get a definitive answer for book covers in particular.

  5. hust0058 on March 25, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I would consider our cover photo to be 8%, but at worst it could be 20% based on the text floating a little to the left of center and the logo on the right. Thoughts? http://www.facebook.com/nicfraternity

  6. Mari Smith on March 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    GREAT!! I love how you integrated the profile picture into the cover photo!

  7. Mari Smith on March 25, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Correct, @phylliskhare:disqus – “This 20% text policy does not apply to pictures of products that include text on the actual product. Photos of products in real situations or photos of products with a background are acceptable.” Surely a book is a product? https://www.facebook.com/help/468870969814641 cc @facebook-1018974455:disqus

  8. Mari Smith on March 25, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Great, @facebook-598138824:disqus!!

  9. Mari Smith on March 25, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    LOVE it!!

  10. Elin Eriksson on March 26, 2013 at 2:59 am

    Would love to try this but I’m having som trouble loading my image in Google Chrome Version 25.0.1364.172 m. The grid is compressed so that the image can’t be seen.

  11. hust0058 on March 26, 2013 at 6:10 am

    Thanks Mari! We try to have some fun with the branding of that leadership program.

  12. Mary C. Weaver, CSCS on March 26, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Hmmm . . . tool’s not working for me because it displays only about 70 percent of my image—even though it is exactly 851 x 315 pixels.

  13. Scott Ayres on March 26, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Mari the only problem with that help link is that is specifically talking about ads, not cover photos. So I wonder if that applies to cover photos.

  14. Mark Frisk on March 26, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    So glad this has been cleared up. That Australian rumor really had everyone in a tizzy for a bit there, didn’t it?

  15. Sean Callanan on March 26, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks for the update Mari, looking forward to catching up at SMMW. I spoke to Nick last week as well, there may be a change coming that stops calls to action again. I hope not but expect something to come out about this

  16. Jenny Lens on March 27, 2013 at 2:04 am

    I am SOOO confused … are these ads or cover photos??? WHY is this so difficult? FB doesn’t ‘get’ that we all have far more to do than jump thru hoops of confusion. I’m intelligent, educated, talented and motivated and mad as hell that after all my reading, this is clear as mud. I don’t know much about fan pages and simply don’t have the budget nor time to deal. I’m sure I’m not alone.

    Is this really the direction FB thinks is wise? To turn off ppl like myself, who comprise the vast majority? MOST ppl don’t know half what I know, so what does that mean? Many are gonna get shut down? We simply don’t have the budget nor time for this …. we are too busy creating products and services to contribute joy and meaning to ppl’s lives. Something FB doesn’t find vital as part of its mission statement. 🙁

  17. Aileen Hernandez Irias on March 27, 2013 at 4:20 am

    Thank you, Mari. This was very helpful.

  18. Kristen Delah on March 28, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Love your site!!! Thanks for the info! I subscribed to your RSS feed. I know you have loads of questions but would love to hear a recommendation for a new reader since, we are following all of these blogs with our Google Reader and Google is taking it away! Where to we go????

  19. Bonnie Gean on March 28, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I’m still confused after reading this post. Are the changes for real or aren’t they? Another thing that confused me was the OLD and NEW posting of the rules. Looking at each image above, they state the same exact thing with the exception of not including more than 20% text. So is this for real or not?

  20. DavidCrowell on April 2, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Very Good. Why Facebook ever had so much control about your business info is beyond me.

  21. J Daniels on April 4, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Thanks for this detail Mari! Will have to share on my blog.

  22. Hrvoje on April 17, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    and what if someone, let’s say your competition has more then 20% , what then?

  23. hacker kanchan on April 26, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Thank you so much, for sharing so much of the updated Facebook requirements and information. Today Facebook becomes a part of our life. Everyone enjoy it with their friends or with their family. We can change our FB cover photosas per our daily working mood in an easy way.

  24. Grazina Ajana Szewczyk on April 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    here’s another tool that you can find handy – a simple template that helps visualise what 20% of the cover photo looks like

  25. Crack Marketing on May 1, 2013 at 2:47 am

    This is an awesome tool! Great post!

  26. Simone Isser on May 1, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Hello Mari, I am a little confused about cover pages. Specially the text part. Please correct me if I am wrong , so when FB says not more than 20% text on any IMAGE are they referring image to the cover picture. Does this mean that 20% text on all over the banner or on an image used in the cover picture ? Like if I have my picture in the cover picture and on the side I am writing does that have to be not more than 20% ?? I was using this image m sending it to you.

  27. Alison Gilbert on May 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    So much for experts in graphic design and branding having their day and their way with facebook page covers. BAck to confusing, dizzying data. I am tempted to put minimal brain power into understanding this because it will change before we know it anyway. This is getting to be a joke and a bad one at that.

  28. Nick Ratsey on May 10, 2013 at 2:59 am

    Hi Mari, have you managed to find out the dimensions of the portion of the cover image that appears in news feeds yet?

  29. Arnold Larsen on May 12, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Thank you mari, this is very helpful

  30. Warren Whitlock on May 15, 2013 at 8:41 am

    In general, I find that having to calculate whether I’m going past a limit means we’re breaking the wrong rule. There are many ways to innovate, creatively breaking rules.. when it gets to this finite a discussion, the mass of others doing it dilutes creativity.

    Besides.. I hold that marketing materials that look like marketing materials are third rate marketing 🙂

  31. FB cover photos on May 16, 2013 at 3:35 am

    Thank you so much, for sharing so much of the updated Facebook requirements and information. Today Facebook becomes a part of our life. Everyone enjoy it with their friends or with their family. We can change our FB cover photos as per our daily working mood in an easy way. There are many sites which provide a large collection of new & stylish FB cover photos which we can download in an easy way.

  32. wali ullah on May 17, 2013 at 4:18 am

    This is awesome and brilliant tool. Informative article.

  33. Susan Daniels on May 19, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    These are awesome tips and I have added this to my Scoop.it newsletter: Social Media Tips! Warmly, Susan

  34. Susan Kay Daniels on May 21, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    I’ve never heard it stated quite that way. But, that actually hit home for me. I refer to “marketing materials that look like marketing materials are third rate marketing.” I’ve never been comfortable with marketing – even less with competition. Perhaps I’ll visit your blog and look a round 🙂 Warmly, Susan

  35. Warren Whitlock on May 22, 2013 at 1:58 am

    I use the idea that almost everyone I meet does not look forward to being sold, but nearly everyone enjoys shopping.

    The difference is just in how we state it.. or is it? LOL

  36. Susan Kay Daniels on May 22, 2013 at 7:56 am

    When I hear “enjoys shopping”, that sounds relaxing and pleasant. “Being sold” does not. Perception may be the key in this instance.

  37. Susan Kay Daniels on May 22, 2013 at 8:05 am

    I’ve been using Feedly.com lately and really like it. It has several different visual layouts so that’s nice. Warmly, Susan

  38. JonKragh on June 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    A Free Tool for Testing Cover Photos and FB Ads before uploading them can be found here (I created it, hope it is useful for you!): http://www.socialpromos.com/Articles/facebook-twenty-percent-photo-tester

  39. Nick Taylor on July 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Try this grid tool – very easy to use:

  40. Narda Goodson on September 27, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Hi Mari,
    I cannot find the link to test my cover photo anywhere on this page. Could you please provide the link? Thanks!

  41. Cindy on November 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    This information is so very helpful for me. Thank you, Mari!

  42. real on May 1, 2014 at 6:42 am

    Thank you for this very interesting infographic ! I’m talking about Google Venice on my blog.

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  43. dianao on May 15, 2014 at 2:50 am

    Thank you for this very interesting infographic ! I’m talking about Google Venice on my blog.

    ??????? ?????????????????????? ??????? ???????? ???? ????? ?????????? ?????? ???????????? ????? ?? ???????

  44. Susan Kay Daniels on July 24, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Thanks for your non-stop superb support with information we can all use. You are the best! I gotta say, I love the front page – especially the water. Did you use a particular template or service for this page? I know there are many fabulous services available, so just curious. Warmly, Susan Daniels

  45. jimmynaga on January 22, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    hii merri , im glad to find your articel on google jasa seo | jasa seo murah | jasa seo profesional | apa itu seo | mengapa website butuh seo | tas laptop | tas ransel pria | dress wanita | sepatu pria | jaket pria your articel about facebook marketing are reaally inspiring me for sure ! thanks

  46. helenancker on February 5, 2015 at 3:08 am

    is the rule still the same now? feb 2015?

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