Apart from the major announcements about Facebook’s new newsfeed and timeline designs, the Facebook marketing team has quietly removed some of the restrictions on how marketers can use a page cover photo, as reported by AllFacebook.com

Here’s a quick run-down of the OLD and the NEW for reference:

The New Cover Photo Rules (full rules here):

All covers are public. This means that anyone who visits your Page will be able to see your cover. Covers can’t be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else’s copyright. You may not encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines. Covers may not include images with more than 20% text.

The Old Cover Photo Rules (along with edits):

Covers may not include:

  1. images with more than 20% text;
  2. REMOVED: price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on socialmusic.com”;
  3. REMOVED: contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;
  4. REMOVED: references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
  5. REMOVED: calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”

As a result, there have been countless marketers proclaiming their excitement about how they are pumped about the easing of rules and the potential to move back to advertising promotions and featuring calls to actions on their cover photos (like in the days of Facebook landing pages, where big arrows with the word LIKE were very popular).

Dear Facebook marketers, I beg you, please don’t revert to those days. Please. This loosening in restriction is NOT an opportunity for you to have arrows and % off plastered all over your cover photo. Don’t abuse this change, rather take advantage of it in new and interesting ways.

Facebook Cover Photo Rules

Here’s why:

1. You will look like a used car dealership

Have you ever compared the advertising used out front of the Apple store with that of a used car dearlership? If you haven’t, I’ve taken the liberty to illustrate below.

Apple Store (Image Source: apple.com)

Apple Store

Used Car Dealership (Image source: motortrend.com)

Used Car Salesman Facebook

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Your Facebook page is still the front door to the major social media presence of most brands so don’t degrade your brand by over-selling in social. Yes, you might get more click thrus into a landing page, but this might be at the expense of your brand equity.

That being said, if you’d like to be a ‘used car salesman’ on Facebook and that is your image, then go for it.

2. You are going in the opposite direction of the new visual web

Take note of the direction that every social media platform is moving. It is towards more visual and less text. Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIN, Google+ and Facebook have redesigned to make visuals more important (see below new Google+ and Pinterest profiles). And this does not mean visuals with arrows and LIKE ME written all over them. Don’t resist this trend by trying to communicate too much in your cover photo (or in social posts, in general).

Furthermore, social platforms are much more sophisticated than they used to be, so premium, engaging brand experiences are becoming easier to create. Pictures speak a 1000 words right? So put up a picture that does that, instead of bombarding them with cheesy marketing messages.

Pinterest Design: Just got even more visual

Google+ Design: Just got even more visual

Google+ New Design

3. You are missing out on NEW creative opportunities

This easing in the rules from Facebook should provide you with great new opportunities for you to craft very insightful messages for you audience, whether there is text included or not.

This will become particularly important as Facebook has started placing more prominence on the cover photo as it is showed in the newsfeed of friends of fans who like the page (see below). This gives you much more real estate in other people’s newsfeeds to communicate a message. It is almost as if the cover photo will become the, sort of, social packaging of your brand. So think carefully about how you would package your brand. You want to make it intrusive and engaging, while also being true to your brand.

Facebook Cover Photo Ad

So, take this opportunity to break through versus other brands out there on Facebook. Don’t sucomb to the status quo – be different. I’m not saying don’t create call to actions on your cover photo or advertise promotions, I’m simply saying do so in a way that is reflective of your brand. With each new update that comes on Facebook, there is an opportunity to leverage it in a new and engaging way, so take this approach instead of being the sleazy salesperson.

I look forward to seeing some awesome work!

What do you think? Does the update open up new opportunities for marketers?

Facebook Cover Photo Image Source: Mari Smith Facebook