Back in the good ol’ days, brands only really needed to worry about one image on social media: their profile picture. Images were used in posts, but not often, and header images either didn’t exist yet or weren’t popular.
We’ve come a long way since then, and header images are now a must-have for all businesses and organizations using social media. Profiles look downright empty without them, and the last thing you want your audience to see when they visit your pages is “wow, they’re not really trying all that hard.”
Designing the perfect cover photos for social media isn’t all that difficult with the right tools and ideas in place. In this post, we’ll take you step-by-step through the process so that you can immediately give your profiles a visual and branding boost.
Why Social Media Header Images Matter So Much
No matter what platform you’re on, header images always stretch across your entire profile. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube all have the option to add cover images, and they’re all immediately noticeable. As far as branding opportunities go, this is pretty much prime real estate.
Your header image, therefore, is key to making a strong first impression and to help solidify your brand. A quality cover image will help you stand out, showcase your professional brand, and can even help new users know what you’re all about. You can use the same cover photo across multiple platforms, but you should always make sure that the header image is fantastic.
How to Design Perfect Social Media Header Images
Ready to create visually-interesting, distinct, highly-branded social media header images that will make the right kind of impact on your target audience? Let’s go step-by-step through the process.
1. Look At Your Current Branding
Before you start designing a single cover image, you need to take a look at what you’ve already got going on in your profile. Specifically, you want to check out your existing social media branding and profile picture.
Your profile picture, after all, is likely already up and running. In many cases, it will be your business’s logo. Whatever it is, you want to look at everything from the color to the imagery to the style that you’re using, because you’ll want your header image to look great paired up with it. You’re going for an overall cohesive look, so you’ll want to take this into consideration.
2. Consider What Would Make an Impression
Your header image, on first sight, may be even more noticeable than your profile picture. You also have more leeway here, since best practices dictate that you don’t have to just stick to a logo.
That’s an opportunity to make a powerful impression. Think about what you’d like your header image to represent. What audience do you want to connect with the image, and what do you want them to take away from it?
The example above from Title boxing, for example, is doing something specific. At a first glance it’s just an interesting, high-resolution photo of a woman with boxing gloves. There’s an implication here, though, that women are welcome, that this is accessible and a safe environment where you can learn. She’s looking right at the viewer, which grabs your attention, and she looks more passive than aggressive.
These aren’t things that people will consciously notice, but it’s all something that can register unconsciously, and since a large portion of kickboxing classes are now women, this is a good call.
3. Choose A Strong, Clean Design
Some businesses will opt for graphic design-based header images (see the first example) while others will gravitate towards high resolution images (see section two). Either option works well, but you need to make sure that the images and designs you’re choosing work well.
The image shouldn’t be too overwhelming. Bright, bold, tightly-knit, tiny patterns filling a big block of space is too much. Opt for a simple design and include negative space so people can focus in on whatever you want to hold their attention. The image below unfortunately is a little much (even though it has a cool 3D effect), making it hard to focus on anything in particular.
It should also be interesting and eye-catching. Striking a balance here can be difficult, but you can incorporate some contrasting colors and even layering tricks to draw the eye where you want it most. See here:
Here at Snappa, we make this part a little easier for you, even if you have zero design experience. We have templates designed specifically for social media header images, which you can customize completely as you see fit.
4. Get The Right Header Image Sizing
This one is important: As you start to design your header image, you need to get your the sizes right. This can be tricky, because each platform has their own size requirements, which include:
- Facebook cover photo size: 820 x 360
- Facebook group cover photo: 1640x 856
- LinkedIn banner image: 1584 x 396
- LinkedIn company cover photo: 1536 x 768
- Twitter cover photo size: 1500 x 500
- YouTube channel cover images: 2560 x 1440
Snappa has fully-optimized templates for Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, and you can easily adapt the templates for LinkedIn, too. Start with the dimensions at the right size, and you’ll be able to ensure that nothing is cropped, stretched, or distorted in a less-than-ideal way.
You’ll also want to take mobile into account. On Facebook, for example, mobile images show up taller than desktop, which appear much longer. See our template below:
If you aren’t considering blind spots for different devices, you could lose a key part of your image or have the photo look a little strange. Our templates have you covered in that regard, showing you exactly what will be cropped where.
5. Pepper In Text to Strengthen the Image
There are some cover images that can be plenty strong on their own with just the photograph itself. This is why we offer an extensive library of free stock photos for our subscribers to use as they see fit.
That being said, most header images do benefit from not only a logo added on, but some text overlay, too. Whether you want to promote your next sale, feature your business’s tagline, or just add some context to the image, a few quick lines of text can take your image to the next level.
Shopify uses a simple tagline in their Twitter cover photo– “Let’s make you a business”– but that’s all that’s needed. It’s clear, it adds context to the image, and it explains the value proposition of the company.
Header images shouldn’t be overlooked. High-quality, aesthetically-interesting images that allow you to represent who you are and what you do to your audience is important, and these cover photos are a valuable opportunity to do exactly that. Consider it as seriously as you would a design element on your main website, and remember that social media is a common touchpoint for new potential customers. A little effort can go a long way here.
Interested in revamping your header image for social media? Start your free trial with Snappa today— no design experience required!
What do you think? What, in your opinion, makes for a perfect header image for social media? Do you have a favorite example you want to share? Let us know in the comments below!