With more than 30 million small businesses with active Pages now on Facebook and growing, Facebook is quickly becoming the digital storefront for many small businesses. Just as you wouldn’t want outdated specials showing in your windows and burnt out letters in your electric signage as an indicator of what’s inside your store, you don’t want an unkempt Facebook Page in disarray that that has your customers running towards the digital hills. A well done Facebook cover will not only capture your audience’s attention and give your business credibility, but used properly can be a great tool to drive customer engagement. In fact, a recent survey we did among small businesses (1-100 employees) indicated that 79% of businesses saw increased engagement after having their cover redesigned. This not only drove a 32% increase in comments on their Page, but also saw an 11% increase in web sales.

Below are three effective Facebook cover design tips to help you get the most from your custom Facebook cover.

1.  Get your measurements straight

First of all, know the space you have to work with. The Facebook template is fairly simple and straightforward. The upload size for your profile picture should be 180 x 180 pixels (and will appear as 160 x 160 pixels). To get a nice, sharp image, the best image size to upload is 1702 x 630 pixels at 72 dpi (the cover will appear as 851 x 315 pixels). Make sure to use RGB color mode, not CMYK. Remember that the cover should emphasize image over text, so unless your company develops typefaces, keep the letter count low. The graphics should be simple yet engaging – think whether or not the design would capture your attention in 3 seconds.

Don’t forget about the profile photo while you are at it. Since Facebook introduced the Timeline cover photo in 2011, people have been coming up with creative ways to have their cover and profile designs interact. Your profile picture should be uploaded at 180 x 180px (displays as 160 x 160). If you think of the cover as your business concept, then the profile pic can be something more personally tied to the business such as a logo, product, or a shot of your brick and mortar location. Facebook provides up to date info on cover photos and profile pictures when they make changes that could affect your page.

2. Build your brand

Now that you have a cover image that says something important about your brand, you can use it to boost your brand. Over time, you’ll likely want to feature promotions, campaigns, or items of importance on your Facebook cover to engage with your audience. These timely initiatives will come and go, so it’s important that you don’t lose your brand in the process. When redesigning your Facebook cover, make sure that the overarching theme of the redesign stays true to your brand. A good test is to ask yourself is, “If my brand was telling a story, would this redesign be another chapter in the story, or am I picking up a new book?”

Some of the ways businesses use their Facebook cover to promote themselves include:

  • Highlight a giveaway — it’s a great way to generate interest and responses
  • Publish new and interesting facts —attract customers who like data
  • Introduce your team — put your people on the cover to humanize your business
  • Showboat (a little) — if you’ve recently won an award why not let your customers know
  • Introduce new products or services — use a cover image to bring them to life
  • Mirror your website design — reinforce your brand identity

With any change, be clear as to why there is a change and keep it simple. A good rule is that even a visitor who accidentally stumbled upon your site should be able to determine immediately who you are, what product or service you provide, and what makes you special.

3. Keep it fresh

If you are going to put your business online, then maintaining your brand should be a top priority. Social media can be one of your most powerful business-to-consumer marketing tools if you put in the effort. Redesigning your Facebook cover often is a key component in attracting and retaining customers, and if design isn’t your strong suit, there are plenty of businesses who have gotten quality and affordable design through online design marketplaces, where you can tap the power of crowdsourcing for unlimited design options.

Not only can a Facebook cover serve as your personal news channel, updating your cover also notifies your fans in their News Feed, keeping you top of mind. Keep in mind though, that a stagnant or outdated cover image can equally send a negative message to your customers – so don’t leave it looking like you abandoned your shop.