Switching to the new Facebook Timeline will provide you and your business with a number of advantages that the old Timeline simply didn’t have. Along with a new look, the new Facebook Timeline is creating a bit of a stir among businesses that started with the ability to create something called a “Cover image.” The controversy comes in when trying to figure out what you can post on your Facebook page while still staying within the terms of service agreement.
What is a Cover?
A Facebook page’s Cover is a large banner-like image that appears at the very top of your Timeline. While this is a feature currently only available for people who switch over to the new Timeline, it will be a standard feature by December 21st.
As far as dimension go for your Cover image, Facebook has stated that the minimum width is 720 pixels wide. The consensus amongst page owners already utilizing Cover images is that an 850 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall image will produce the best results.
What Are You Supposed to Use It For?
According to Facebook, the purpose of the Cover image is to allow other people to get to know you better. In really simple words, it’s another way for your users to become more familiar with what your page has to offer. The main things you’ll probably want to use it for is to give new followers a brief overview of who you are and to give the users who already follow you a better sense of familiarity.
What’s the Controversy Around Cover Images and Timelines?
While the requirements for Cover images should be pretty straightforward, there’s a lot of confusion as to what Facebook actually allows. A number of pages have already received slaps on their hands from Facebook and had to alter their images to comply with Facebook’s terms of service agreement.
Here’s a rough guideline on what you can’t put in your Cover image:
- You can’t put any information related to a price on it. This means you can’t put the value of an item on your image, nor can you even mention that it’s on discount. Stay away from any numbers.
- Keep your contact information in the “About” section of your page. This means you should keep your company’s website, address and everything else where it should be. Don’t even put your company’s phone number in your image. Leave it all in your page’s “About” tab.
- Don’t reference Facebook interface elements. In other words, don’t put a big message that says “Like” on your Cover image.
- You can’t use any calls to action. Phrases like “Get it now” and “Share this” are things that belong elsewhere on your page. Keep them away from your Cover image.
The Big Question: Is Advertising Allowed?
This is the question that everyone wants to know the answer to. The short answer is that all advertising on Facebook should be done through Facebook’s ads. The long answer, on the other hand, is that it’s probably okay to have business-related advertisements on your page’s Timeline, but not direct product advertisements (source).
The reasoning behind this is that the purpose of a Facebook page is to create a business presence with your demographics. It’s also supposed to be a way for you to keep in contact with them. There is absolutely nothing wrong about directing your Facebook fans to your website to interact with you.
Think of your Timeline just like your Cover image. It’s okay to have your website’s address listed in places that it’s supposed to be. It’s also okay to have your company’s identity on that page. If you can keep your Timeline in a clean and pristine state that doesn’t have messages of “Buy Our Product Now” written all over it, then you can advertise.
The bottom line is to keep your Timeline’s content in line with what your users would appreciate seeing. Don’t overdo it with calls to action, but don’t be afraid to interact with your fans. If you want to advertise a product, use either Facebook’s ads or redirect them to your website.