Facebook increases avatar graphic size

Figures.  Gotta love Mark Zuckerberg and his tendency to “change” things on Facebook at the drop of a hat.   I had just finished sharing suggestions for optimizing your cover graphic for the new Facebook Timeline when Facebook decides to increase the size of the “logo” that is superimposed over the Cover graphic.  If your cover graphic isn’t/wasn’t precisely optimized in accordance with some of my recommendations, this size difference probably wasn’t even noticeable. However, if you had created your cover graphic down to the pixel, as we had at Outskirts Press, this new avatar size resulted in overlapping actual content on the underlying cover graphic, as circled in the sample image below.  See how some of the words in our “Calendar” for April were covered by the increased size of the Avatar box?  Not great…

The size of the logo/avatar box increased from 133 pixels wide to 168 pixels wide. Naturally, you would want to make alterations to your cover graphic as a result, as we did with this new graphic that we launched on May 1st.  We actually plan to upload a new cover graphic on the first day of every month, anyway, since our two “Calendar” boxes draw attention to the current month’s activities/events/promotions on Facebook as well as “tease” the upcoming month’s. For instance, in June we will be crowning the author of our 2011 Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year.  And I’ll be discussing that in more depth soon, but in the meantime, here’s the next cover graphic for Facebook, with the new avatar size accounted for, and the update to the Calendar. Of course, it had to be “shrunk” since the optimal size for the cover graphic is wider than the space allowed by this blog template, and you’ll notice that we simply leave the portion of the graphic unfinished where Facebook superimposes the Avatar (details, details), but you can see how it looks for real on our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/OutskirtsPress.

Getting the most out of your ABOUT BOX on Facebook Pages

With the Timeline theme on Facebook pages, the “About” box is more important than ever.  Yes, the “cover graphic” allows you to brand your page, but according to Facebook parameters, your cover graphic is not allowed to contain a URL.  Fortunately, the About Box allows them, so be sure to take advantage of that.  And, the good news is, FB automatically turns any URL that you include there into an active link that actually goes to your company website. It’s a valuable piece of real estate that you don’t want to waste, so word your “About” box in such a way to leave room for your URL to appear (rather than being truncated).  This means your About text needs to be approximately 20 words long, since you have a maximum of 3 lines to include both your About text and your URL.  In the case of Outskirts Press, our About language is the following, which fits exactly into the allocated space in the About box:

Outskirts Press offers full-service, high-quality, custom book publishing and marketing services. Keep 100% of your rights & royalties at www.OutskirtsPress.com.

What we offer, our benefits, and our URL. Short, sweet, effective.

To the right of the About box are the 4 app navigational boxes. I call them navigational boxes because if you manage them effectively, you can treat them like website navigation, taking your Facebook users to other pages of your Facebook presence, where each page can then be customized to accomplish tasks the main timeline page can’t do very well (ie, sell or market your stuff).  We’ll discuss that next time…

Facebook Timeline Cover Graphics

In yesterday’s post I mentioned the three things to consider when creating your “Cover” graphic for your company FB page now that the Timeline theme has removed the ability to have “Welcome Pages.” Those three considerations are

1) Identify your company’s core benefits 2) Incentive ”Likes” in a similar manner to the previous Welcome pages 3) Aesthetically design around the FB elements that are super-imposed over the cover graphic

As a result of these three goals, here is the cover graphic we created for Outskirt Press (it might be a little “squashed” since the optimal width for this graphic is 851, which exceeds the amount of space available on this blog. Nevertheless it gives you the idea, and you can see the “real” cover graphic on our Facebook page by clicking here.

In our case, our core benefits are that we help authors write anything, publish everything, and market everywhere. So those benefit statements are a part of the design.

We incentivize links by highlighting the current months “perk” or “topic” along with the next month’s upcoming topic, and then we graphically point in the general vicinity of the “like” button of FB, as well-designed “Welcome” pages did in the past.  By referring to both the current and up-coming months, we give incentive for friends to “stay with us” even if the current month’s event/promotion is nearing the end.  And finally, we designed this graphic to aesthetically accommodate the FB lay-overs.  The “white space” underneath the couple is where Facebook overlays the avatar graphic, so we matched the treatment of that graphic, even down the 3 pixel border separating the gray lines from the image.  So it actually looks like this on Facebook:

And that brings us to the rest of the header space: the “About box, the photos, and the other three “navigational” graphics FB allows. We’ll discuss more of that next time…

Creating a Cover image for Facebook pages

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that these were the 4 “requirements” when creating a new “Cover” image for the Facebook profile pages within the Timeline framework:

  • It should be at least 399 pixels wide, but 851 pixels wide is better and 315 pixels tall is recommended.
  • It cannot feature pricing or discount/promotional information.
  • It cannot contain contact information or website addresses.
  • It cannot contain call-to-action statements.

When creating your 815 x 315 pixel graphic, there are some other considerations.  For one,  your avatar is going to appear as an overlay in the lower left hand corner of the graphic, starting approximately 20 pixels from the left edge and 75 pixels from the bottom edge. The box that superimposes over your graphic is 135 pixels wide. So in other words, you shouldn’t put anything important (definitely not any words) in the lower left corner of your graphic, which is defined by a space of at least 160 pixels wide by 90 pixels high. In fact, if at all possible, you should try to “incorporate” this avatar graphic within the design aesthetics of your Cover, in order to give the impression that both elements are a part of the same graphic.

The other area to consider is the upper right hand corner.  For users who are not signed-in to their Facebook account (or don’t have one yet, if there are any of those people left), Facebook overlays a “Sign-up box” over your Cover graphic.  The simplest thing to do, of course, is to not worry about this (and given the spacing variables that arise, depending upon whether this pop-up box appears on a mobile phone, tablet, or monitor, that’s also perhaps the most realistic option). The second easiest thing to do is refrain from putting any content in this area of your cover graphic. But considering the size of Facebook’s Sign-up Box, that’s a lot of real estate to “give-up” just for those people who aren’t signed in.

A trickier, but ultimately, perhaps, more successful approach, is to design some content to fit within the designated space, so that your cover graphic looks complete both with and without Facebook’s overlay. Trickier still, Facebook’s overlay is somewhat transparent, so you cannot have anything BOLD and BRIGHT under it.

In our first attempt at a cover graphic, we added a testimonial in that space.  The graphic (let’s call it our “Survivor graphic” for the sake of identifying it among other graphics) stands on its own when Facebook’s overlay covers our testimonial, and when the overlay is gone, the testimonial supports and further enhances the graphic.

So, given those considerations, and our first opportunity to deal with this new branding opportunity, our first attempt at a cover graphic featured one of our authors holding his book alongside his friend (and subject matter), Benjamin “Coach” Wade from the CBS reality show “Survivor.”

If it helps, below is a graphic representation of the two “trouble spots” I described above, so you can keep them in mind as you design your own compelling cover graphic. The top-right black box is approximately where Facebook overlays their own “Sign-up/log-in graphic” and the bottom-right is where Facebook overlays the “Avatar graphic.”

As we began enhancing other elements of the new Timeline masthead, this Survivor graphic was replaced with something else, and we’ll discuss that next…

How to create a “Cover” for the new Facebook pages

Now that the new Facebook Pages and its timeline motif have been thrust upon all of us recently (and don’t think you’re exempt if you don’t have a Company page; personal profile pages will be forced into the Timeline on April 15th), we were faced with the task of branding Outskirts Press within the new look.

As you may or may not recall from a Facebook series of posts I wrote a while ago, in which I shared the process of branding your Facebook presence, our Facebook page at Outskirts Press has looked like this for a while:

And then suddenly, it looked like this:

No branding to speak of, really. Fortunately, with the new Facebook timelines, you have the option of creating a “cover” to your Facebook profile page.  Here are some rules to keep in mind when designing your own cover (which is just FB’s fancy way of referring to a main graphic).

  1. It should be at least 399 pixels wide, but 851 pixels wide is better and 315 pixels tall is recommended.
  2. It cannot feature pricing or discount/promotional information.
  3. It cannot contain contact information or website addresses.
  4. It cannot contain call-t0-action statements.

In other words,  it can’t contain any of the elements normal marketers use to, you know… sell stuff. But it can be designed to brand your page, and then through various tweaks to the timeline itself, you can move some of those promotional tactics elsewhere. I’ll tell you how as we continue this series of posts…

Customizing new Facebook pages

Since it could have easily been confused for an April Fool’s Day joke, Facebook decided to change all the Company Pages to the “Timeline” motif at the end of March, but certainly the close proximity to April 1st is not just a happy coincidence.  For entrepreneurs or companies that have spent a lot of time tweaking their Facebook profile and company pages to get them just right, having to start again from scratch is a little annoying. Note to Zuckerberg: Your hobby doesn’t have to become our hobby.  In all fairness, this change seemed inevitable because I’m sure the “old” way was overloading their servers.  The “Timeline” presentation of data is much more efficient in terms of server access for its approximately 500 million daily users.

Okay, so now that the change is upon us, in the coming days I’ll share some tips and tricks to help you change your page from looking like this (which is what ours at Outskirts Press looked like on April 1 – April Fools indeed)…


… to looking like this…



Facebook fan leader boards and “Fan of the Week” kudos

I know I should be discussing the proofing process at Outskirts Press, and I will get back to that next week, but in celebration of our passing 5,000 fans on our Outskirts Press Facebook Page, I wanted to mention some of the new apps we added to not only encourage more participation from our FB friends, but to give them recognition for that participation, as well.  Of course, anything that I discuss regarding Facebook is a little up in the air, since apparently, the Fan Pages on Facebook will be changing to a new design on March 30.   But if the “Preview” is to be believed, this new design will incorporate the oft-debated “Timeline” design that Facebook unveiled for the Personal pages a little while ago.  This re-design shouldn’t affect what we’re doing with our Fan Recognition Programs, which I’ll discuss now:

The first is a “Fan of the Week” award, which will publicly recognize a random fan of our Facebook page for participation on our wall — which gives public kudos to fans who have actively engaged in liking something, commenting on something, or posting something.  Each week, a new Fan will be chosen, recognized on our wall, and will be featured on a new Fan of the Week page on our Facebook Page, with his/her user profile “up in lights.”  The purpose, of course, is to encourage other fans/friends to participate, so they will become the next Fan of the Week. The more you participate, the greater your chances to be chosen as the Fan of the Week.

To that end, we also launched a Top Fans app, which goes one step further.  Every Sunday we will recognize the top weekly fans who are responsible for the most likes, the most comments, and the most posts.  The top 5 fans in each category will be listed on a new Top Fans leader-board page, along with a 4th category, recognizing the fans who have accumulated the most “points” overall (with certain engagements — likes, comments, posts — earning a certain number of points).

And in the coming months we will be launching our Facebook Publishing Awards, where certain milestones our authors reach in the publishing and marketing process are automatically broadcast to all their Facebook friends.   People closely watching my personal FB page may have noticed the first such Award come across my newsfeed a couple of weeks ago.  This will be a great way for us to help our authors better establish and earn the public recognition they deserve for their impressive accomplishment — successfully publishing and marketing a great looking, high-quality book!

And if there’s any doubt that all this “stuff” I’m talking about in regard to Facebook (including the tactics I covered yesterday) contribute to significant increases in social media “reach,” one need only look at this recent graphic generated by Facebook Insights for our Facebook Page: