Facebook’s New Rule Regarding Cover Photos and News Feed Ads

If you haven’t heard, Facebook is changing things up (again!).

Starting today January 15, both cover photos and any News Feed ads cannot contain more than 20% text. What does 20% look like? It could look like this (or a whole host of variations):

Facebook cover photos can only have 20% of text

Facebook’s cover photo guidelines have always included things like no URL or no call to action as show below. But now they’re adding one more thing to the mix (see i):

i.    images with more than 20% text

ii.    price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on socialmusic.com”;

iii.    contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;

iv.    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

v.    calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”

 Why are they making this rule?

Well, I have Facebook’s answer and then I have my answer. :-) Let’s hear it from Facebook first. This is what they’ve previously said about using text in images:

Facebook people react negatively to content that they perceive as inauthentic or impersonal. Since text is rare in photos from friends, text in brand photos triggers negative emotions in people. Instead of introducing text in your images, choose photos that send a message or tell a story on their own without words.

What I think? I doubt they’re going through all this hoopla to make better marketers out of everyone. I imagine that Facebook ads aren’t performing well enough for advertisers. So if more advertisers are forced to comply with something Facebook’s sees as best practice, then Facebook gets happy advertisers, who then want to spend more money.

While I agree that some images with a lot of text looks bad (and thus performs poorly), I think we at Burt’s do a good job with text in images. *sigh*

Of course, cover photos have nothing to do with paid advertising but the rule applies to those too. While I hate seeing cover photos crammed with marketing messages, I do think they can be done well with more than 20% text. Ah well.

With these changes, I wanted to answers some questions I thought you might have about the change…

Does this mean ALL my images can’t have more than 20% text?

This change does NOT affect any image that’s not in the cover photo or a News Feed ad (like a promoted post). So if you are just posting something on your Facebook timeline, then not to worry.

Does the 20% limit include the text of my blog name or logo?


Can that 20% be spread out or does it all have to be in one spot?

It can be however you want it to be. All together, in bits and pieces, whatever floats your bloggy boat.

Can I just pretend Facebook didn’t announce this and leave things as is?

Facebook is promising to be more diligent with its enforcement by developing a grid-based overlay tool that can quickly review an image and determine whether it’s compliant. If you’re an advertiser, it sounds like you’ll be able to use the tool before you submit your ad.

Sure you COULD ignore it (and not doing it exactly by today probably won’t make Facebook come knocking at your door), but you do have to change your cover photo if it’s got more than 20% of text.

Is Facebook getting more annoying by the day?

Uh huh.

I will say that I hope we won’t see what I fear we’ll see: people cramming as much text in that 20% as they can. People already try to skirt around the rules as it is. Let’s not turn our cover photos into design nightmares, okay?

What do you think of the changes? Do you have to make any adjustments to your cover photo or News Feed ads?

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  1. says

    I didn’t have a ton of text on my cover photo, but it was more than 20%.
    I made changes this weekend, and it is now compliant with the new rules. As I don’t do sponsored posts for news feeds, it shouldn’t be much more of an issue for me. But it was annoying.

  2. says

    I can obviously tell that my cover photo is more than 20% text, but is there some magic formula that will let me know when I’m over that 20%?! I don’t have a good eye for that kind of thing. I did terrible in geometry. lol I guess I need to contact the lady that did my blog design (she made the cover photo as well), and see if she can fix it? For reference, here’s my FB page – http://www.facebook.com/ThePracticallyGreenMom

  3. says

    Thank you for once again keeping us all on the up and up. I’m bummed because I will indeed have to remove my blog URL from my cover photo. It might not be a facebook game changer for personal users, but I believe it just might begin to become one for anyone with a blog/business page.

    • melissa says

      Hey Missy! That URL rule has always been in effect but I don’t know how many people knew about it! I add my URL to the About description. It’s better than way anyway since you can actually click that link!

  4. says

    My cover photo has always been just pictures, with really tiny text, and not even text of my blog name, so I’m safe for once! :)

  5. says

    Great article as always, Melissa. Thanks! (And thanks for linking to my article.) I’m going to share this around to help get the word out.

  6. says

    Frankly, this sucks. I am not a graphic designer and my FB blog page is my blog name in big letters, plus a little bar at the bottom that highlights my main blog topics. I have no idea what I’m going to do. *sigh*

  7. says

    This is so annoying. I guess I get it for regular people pages, but for brand and website pages, who cares? Right now, my fb page had a headline but it’s way more than 20%. Grrrrr.

    • melissa says

      I agree! At Burt’s pretty much ALL our cover photos go across the 20% rule. I understand the call to action and URL thing that was already in place, but 20% for the cover photo is just silly.

  8. says

    I don’t have text in my cover photo (it’s not a very good one) but wow.. they really have rules about everything, don’t they? I was just thinking how annoying they are when I got to this part of your article
    “Is Facebook getting more annoying by the day?” and I actually laughed out loud. I would’ve never known this without reading it here.

  9. says

    Thanks for the heads up. I see my button has my website on it, so I’ll change that.
    In some ways I understand this, FB is a social network not an advertising network. But the constant rule changing… well, it is hard to keep up!

  10. says

    I think it’s incredibly annoying. All the changes they seem to randomly throw out. Where did they come up w/20% specifically and why, does anyone know?
    I post less and less on FB lately and am using G+ more and more. Marky Z and his wallet do realize that putting more and more hoops for people to jump thru will ultimately backfire and I really think FB will go the way of MySpace. Dead Air…

  11. jenifer says

    One thing I did when I personalized my page name was to actually use my web address instead of just the name. So my facebook page url is facebook.com/mybusiness.com

    it’s just a tiny thing, but I was surprised they let me use it. lol

  12. says

    This is so dumb. Facebook’s explanation makes no sense to me. What in the Sam hell do they think gives them the right to tell people what to put in their cover photos? Why do they even care? Seriously… is Mark Zuckerberg the biggest control freak alive?

    I’m fairly certain my cover photo has slightly more than 20% text. But I also think it looks fab and I *know* I paid my blog designer to create it for me not too long ago, so I’m not planning on changing it anytime soon. I’ve always played by Facebook’s rules, but now I’m ready to stick it to the man. Eff them.

    • says

      I’m with you, Kristin. I always follow the rules, but this is just a pain in the butt. My text is part of the illustration (drawn in, not just a text overlay in a graphic), and I’m not going to hire an illustrator and change the whole thing. If Facebook wants to come after me, fine, I’ll change it then. But for now, I’m just going to live on the edge and be a rebel.

  13. says

    I don’t have text yet, I guess I am behind the times. I just need to learn how to make one, so I can change it easily. Have you done a post on that, timeline covers?

  14. says

    This is a nightmare. I work for a curriculum publisher. They create BOOKS. Books are full of …. words! Oh my. We have book covers — very tasteful — along the bottom of the cover image. There are words all over those books. You know, like the TITLES? The company name/logo is on top. Any creative ideas for book publishers? In desperation, I am thinking of going to a solid background with nothing on it. (Just kidding; sort of) Another question, does the avatar that overlaps the cover image factor into the 20%?

  15. says

    We make children’s name plaques so our products are essentially letters. Now our ads are being kicked back because of the 20% rule. So we can’t advertise a picture of our product because our product IS LETTERS!

    So dumb.