Compelling images are a great way to tell your story, and along with your website, social media gives you an excellent platform for visual storytelling. One of the most strategic spots to place an engaging image is your Facebook cover photo. It’s large and likely the first thing people see when they come to your Facebook page. Needless to say, you don’t want to post just any old photo up there.

Here are five ways to maximize this important space and take advantage of a free marketing opportunity.

1. Choose a photo (or collection of photos) that conveys your organization’s mission. Weave in your tagline if it fits, but don’t clutter your cover photo with too much text. This spot should be mainly about making an emotional impact with an image that captures the essence of your nonprofit. As always, great images of people (especially close-ups of faces) tend to be the most engaging.

2. Announce an event or campaign. Use your cover photo to spread the word about your latest fundraiser or promote your next event, but be careful not to appear too “salesy.” Remember the nature of Facebook—most people log in to connect with family, friends and brands they love, but they don’t like being sold to and will rarely like an image that strikes them as an ad. It’s okay to make an announcement, but steer clear of using marketing language in your cover photo. Stick instead to compelling images and keep text minimal.

3. Use your own photography. Photography isn’t everyone’s thing, but it’s well worth the benefits to learn how to take great photos, even if it’s just with your phone’s camera. Stock photography has its purpose in social media, but authenticity is key. With your own photos, you can capture images that better reflect your organization and the people involved in your cause.

4. Change your cover photo regularly. Just as it’s important to evolve and update the content on your website, you’ll want to do the same on your Facebook page. Don’t settle on one cover photo and leave it there for months, collecting dust. Change it up once in a while, showcasing different aspects of your organization, offering a thank-you to donors, promoting your recurring giving program—anything to show that you’re active and engaged with your online community.

5. Follow Facebook’s guidelines and rules. It seems they’re always changing, so it’s a good idea to stay up to speed on Facebook’s rules for cover photos. For example, when cover photos were first introduced, Facebook was adamant that they not include a call to action. A few years ago, they lifted that rule and changed their cover photo policy. View the latest cover photo guidelines to see how compliant you currently are.

Check out Firespring’s nonprofit website services!