We know that Facebook is making changes to the platform to make marketers happy. But what good are these changes if you don't leverage them for your brand?

One of the more important changes Facebook has made has been relaxing the rules and regulations for cover photos. While the 20% rule stands (your cover photo can only have text covering 20% of it), one widely loathed rule has been lifted: calls-to-action are now allowed in cover photos.

Previously, you couldn't technically advertise or promote anything in your cover photo. At least, the advertisement or promotion couldn't have a call-to-action, and we all know that those are what drive people to convert. So, you could use have a cover photo that talked about your event, e-book, or email list, but you couldn't suggest that people actually sign-up for it.

These kind of Facebook cover photos probably didn't have great conversion rates. But now, cover photos can make sales, collect leads, and convert, convert, convert (Click to tweet).

Of course, there are a few things you need to do to make your Facebook cover photo drive conversions:

  • Include a strong call-to-action: Telling your fans how great your weekly e-newsletter is still isn't enough for them to sign up. A high-performing call-to-action tells people exactly what you want them to do (Click to tweet).
  • Keep your CTA short and sweet: Remember that only 20% of your cover photo can be text. In that space, you want to give information about the offer or promotion as well as include a call-to-action. The shorter your CTA, the more room you have to convince your fans of why they should do what you're asking (Click to tweet).
  • Don't forget the photo description: The description of the photo may not be visible from your Facebook timeline, but when a fan becomes interested in what your cover photo's promoting, they're going to click on it. When they do, you want them to find a bit more information. Don't forget to include a link (Click to tweet)!
  • Use a shortened link for tracking: You want to be able to track how many people are coming to your chosen web page via your Facebook cover photo. To do this, create a shortened link using a service like bit.ly, and only use that link in your cover photo (Click to tweet).
  • Don't use buttons or anything fans will want to click: Clicking anywhere on a cover photo will bring up a lightbox that displays the cover photo along with its description and any interaction happening around it. While you want people to click-through to this, you don't want them to feel duped (Click to tweet).

So, how can you use your Facebook cover photo to convert? Here are three ways brands are using cover photos to drive their fans to action:

1. To announce company updates (Click to tweet)

Brands have been using social media for announcements for a long time now, but now you can work your cover photo into your launch strategy. If you are launching a new product or service, have a big event coming up, or are running a sale or promotion, announce this in your cover photo. Use a related call-to-action, like "Sign up now," "Register today," or "Shop now" in your cover photo text, and link to the sign-up page or sale landing page in the photo's description. HubSpot used this method to announce a new product called Signals last month (click image to enlarge):

HubSpot Facebook Cover Photo

2. To drive contest entries or email sign-ups (Click to tweet)

If your current goal is to collect leads through a contest or email sign-up form, the cover photo is a great way to turn Facebook Likes into leads or customers. Overall, you don't have much information on your Facebook audience, or a way to contact them other than Facebook. By promoting something that asks focalls-to-action,r a bit of information, you can learn more about your Facebook following and earn new ways to contact them. Wishpond paired this strategy with a Facebook landing page tab. The arrow in the picture points directly to the icon for the tab (click image to enlarge):

Wishpond Facebook Cover Photo

3. To promote content marketing assets (Click to tweet)

We all know (or should know) that social media is a great place to promote your content. But your content marketing efforts on Facebook don't need to be limited to wall posts and landing pages. You can make your latest whitepaper or e-book, or even your email newsletter, the highlight of your Facebook page by talking about it in the first thing to catch a visitor's eye: the cover photo. You can once again use an arrow or other graphic to draw the eye to a landing page tab, if you have one for the offer. I personally love when brands use the cover photo to promote a landing page tab, like ShortStack does for their latest e-book/ This is how their timeline looks (click image to enlarge):

Shortstack Facebook Cover Photo

But they're not the only ones getting creative with their cover photos. How have you used yours to drive marketing conversions? Share your strategies and a link to your Facebook page in the comments!