(This post was originally published on April 15, 2015, and has been updated to be even more fantastic!)
It’s big, it’s bold, it takes up a huge part of your screen! It’s your social media cover photo!
One of the biggest challenges to creating great cover photos is the variety of sizes that they come in. Unfortunately, the social media giants just haven’t gotten together yet and agreed on a standard cover photo size. Instead, each social network has unique cover photo dimensions, as well as an assortment of intruding profile pictures, displays, and hovering buttons.
Fortunately, there are some universal tips that can be applied to make sure that no matter which social media platform you’re using, your practice’s cover photo looks awesome.
And, to make things even simpler for you, we’ve created pre-sized cover photo templates for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube. There’s no muss or fuss with these templates. Just drop in your images, add some text, and away you go!
1. One size does not fit all, but one image might
In our ideal world, all cover photos would be the same size and shape, but alas! they’re not.
The good news is, you can use the same image for almost all the social channels (except YouTube, but we’ll get to that later). That’s the strategy that LifeLearn has employed. The same picture will work across most of the social networks, as long as you choose an image that works for the largest set of dimensions. From there, you can scale it down according to the social platform.
To clarify, when we say image, we’re referring to the basic picture you use, not including any graphics, logos, or text. When it comes to the elements beyond your basic image, it’s best to add them separately, taking into account each platform’s unique elements. In LifeLearn’s case, we moved our logo and graphics around based on the social network, to make sure they’re fully visible and never cut off.
The plus side to using the same image for every social channel is brand consistency. LifeLearn’s profiles are easily recognized by the same consistent image.
The downside is that some pictures might not look as good on some social networks as others. Because of the lack of consistency in height and width, some images may appear squished or cut off depending on the social network. Make sure you choose an image that will still look good even if you have to crop away large parts of it, because that’s essentially what you’ll be doing when you upload it to different social networks.
There are pros and cons to either option, so it’s really up to you to decide if you want to use the same or different images for each of the individual social media networks.
2. Add your logo and text
No matter what your cover photo image, consider adding your practice logo or your brand colors. These will connect any photo you choose to your practice, and allow viewers to quickly associate your cover photo with your practice. It will also create brand consistency between your website and your social media.
3. Align to the right
One way in which cover photos are consistent is in their tendency to cut the cover image off on the left, whether it’s with a profile picture or a blurry bar (we’re looking at you, Google+). This makes it a good idea to place any important imagery towards the right side of the image, facing left. This will ensure that your cover photo looks balanced, and that nothing is cutting off important elements of your image.
4. High quality images
Cover photos are the first thing your visitors see when they visit your social media pages. So the last thing you want is to greet them with a blurry cover photo. This looks unprofessional, and it can also be distracting.
Whenever possible, choose an image that is clear and crisp at the largest dimensions (2120×1192) or larger. Try to choose a picture that is saved as a PNG, not a JPEG, to avoid pixelation. And select fonts that are not over complicated or textured. The simpler the text, the less pixelated it will appear.
5. Relevant Images
Choose an image that reflects your practice. You can use an image of your staff (preferably high quality, i.e., not taken with a smartphone), or of your patients, or even just a generic photo of a pet. A picture is worth a thousand words, so choose an image that will help your followers associate your practice with happiness and health.
Note: you may perform medical procedures at your practice, but it’s best to avoid images of things like surgery, however relevant that may be to your animal hospital. Remember that this image is the first thing your followers are going to see when they visit your social profile, and if it makes it hard for them to keep their breakfast down, it’s probably too graphic for your cover photo.
6. A word about YouTube
YouTube dimensions are special. You’ll see in our social media cover photo templates that the YouTube cover photo changes dramatically based on what device you view it on. Most of the YouTube dimensions are also very narrow compared to other cover photos. At LifeLearn, we use a completely different image for our YouTube channel than we do for the other social media networks. Our best advice for YouTube is to use an image where any important imagery is at the center. The same is true of all graphics and text. Add everything directly to the center of the image because otherwise, the chances are good that it will be cut off.It’s the first thing your social media visitors are going to see, so take the time to make sure that your cover photos leave a lasting first impression.
It doesn’t have to be hard. Download our pre-sized social media cover photo templates to easily create awesome cover photos for your practice!