When it comes to social media networks, you typically have to work with a very standard template and format which can sometimes make it difficult to express your brand image. But there are places on certain networks that you can get creative.
Here are four top social networks and the places you can customize graphics, content, and more on their networks.
Facebook Timeline Cover Photo
The first and most notably important design element that you can control on your Facebook page is your timeline cover photo. It’s really the first impression that people get when they arrive to your page, so you will want to make it count.
Timeline cover photos should ideally be 851px wide by 315px high. Of course, like most things on Facebook, there are some rules on what you cannot have in cover photos on your business page including the following directly from Facebook.
- Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
- Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section
- References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
- Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”
So pretty much, everything you would really want to have on your timeline cover, you can’t. But there are still plenty of creative routes you can take with your cover photo that will not break the rules.
Facebook Custom Tabs
The other part of Facebook you can get really creative with is your custom tab content.
Using iframes, custom code, and applications, you can essentially put anything on your Facebook page including fancy welcome tabs, landing pages, E-commerce stores, videos, feeds from other social networks, or any content you choose really. American Express is a great example of a brand that takes advantage of custom tabs to their fullest extent.
If custom coding and iframes aren’t your cup of tea, you can use application providers such as North Social, Involver, Inline Vision, and Pagemodo (to name a few) which help you quickly install free or premium applications on your Facebook custom tabs.
Whether you choose creative content or simply functional content, you will be enhancing the quality of your Facebook page immensely.
When it comes to Twitter, your best bet at creativity and brand expression is taking advantage of a custom background.
Twitter backgrounds can give more information about your brand or simply help add some light into your brand’s image or help you drive traffic to other social networks and websites that are a part of your brand.
If you feel like designing your own, you can follow HubSpot’s tutorial on creating a custom Twitter background or hire services like Twitr Backgrounds, Tweet with Style, Social Identities, and Craft Social Media to get the job done for you.
YouTube allows for different types of background customization of their user channels. All channels are allowed to upload a custom background design to enhance the branding and design of the channel like Stuck in Customs has done.
Larger brands and YouTube partners are allowed to both design and add functionality to their backgrounds. Microsoft, for example, has clickable links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
If you want to create your own background for your YouTube channel, you can follow this tutorial by Make Use Of. Or you can find a designer to get the job done for you!
Last but not least are Google+ banners. While you can still have standalone images at the top of your Google+ profile, you can also have a 940px wide by 180px tall banner instead.
Although it is not as glorious as the Facebook timeline cover photo, it still does tend to stick out, especially when someone hovers over your user icon throughout Google+.
There aren’t a lot of Google+ banner specialists out there, but if you have some design skills, you can follow this template and tutorial to create a Google+ banner by aforementioned Inline Vision.
Design vs. Engagement
As a last note, remember that you shouldn’t spend so much time obsessing about the design elements of your social profiles that you don’t focus on the important stuff. Engagement is key when it comes to social networks.
Thanks to a lot of the tools out there like HootSuite and people using social on their smartphones, having a Twitter background may not matter as much as what you have to say on your profile. Just like your YouTube videos deserve a lot more attention than your channel design.
Out of all of the above mentioned design elements, the Facebook timeline cover photo is probably most important of them all as far as making a strong brand impression. Facebook pages just look naked without them.
What brands have you see taking the best advantage of custom design elements on their profiles? Please share in the comments!