What’s a good Facebook cover image for an American university (or really anyone)?

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Forget about images! Go with a video! And if you really want to stand out do a cool time-lapse!

Okay. That’s too harsh – maybe. Use an image if you have a good one but a video – which fewer organizations currently do – might make you stand out more. Marketing win on deck!

First, what’s a Facebook cover image? It’s the image or video that shows at the top of your organization’s Facebook page. Here’s an example from the University of Miami:

It looks so warm. No cold winters there! You’ve likely heard me blab about my love-hate relationship with Facebook and declining organic reach.

And it’s true, Facebook posts can be a waste of time unless you put money behind them as part of a promotion – and not just distribution strategy.

Facebook cover images matter! Even though visits to Facebook pages are relatively low for many brands.

Here’s why: Most people who are visiting Facebook pages have some kind of intent to learn more. They searched for something – often the college or whatever organization they are looking up.

Hear the latest on how to market to nontraditional students at the Adult Marketing Conference – Register here!



Facebook page visitors aren’t like Facebook scrollers. They came to the page for a reason. Scrollers see your post in their feed – sometimes by mistake.

Marketing snark: “5 million people who didn’t care about us saw my post.”

“Good job?”


That’s also how I ended up on the Coe College (based in Cedar Rapids) page – through an intentional search. I went to the search on Facebook and searched for Coe College.

It was the top result – as it should be – and I clicked over. On the page I was greeted by this awesome time lapse video from what I assume is campus.

Campus shots are a popular marketing strategy in higher ed. Here’s the picture from the University of Iowa.


Ithaca College:

You saw the Miami Hurricanes picture above.

Switching coasts…

Stanford has a video, too, though it looks more like a commercial and as far as I can tell the cover videos play without sound:

Smart Facebook cover videos can help colleges and really any brands stand out.

Remember that visitors often want to learn more about you.

Make them informational while also understandable and meaningful when played without sound on.

I would say you can shoot this with your iPhone – reminder to hold it sideways! – and upload in 1080 or 4K if you feel like it.

Need more video storytelling tips? Check out my handy list of 7 tips!

Ideas for cover images and video

Sandra Fancher, Chief Innovation Officer at Stamats – who works in higher education – had a great idea:

“How about a GoPro on a student skateboarding through campus or something showing life,” she said to me.

You could also try some 360 video as mentioned in this article or use the Facebook 360 camera to shoot a different kind of panoramic photo.