By Misty Absher ClarkThe cover photo for your Facebook page is your calling card and brand enhancer. You want it to be as effective as possible and promote your message in a positive way.Click here to read about Facebook timelines. Here are several things to consider when choosing your cover photo:1. Unique. Your cover photo should not be stock photography or an image you purchase. It should be something that you — and only you — have. 2. Consistent with marketing materials. The look of your cover photo should be consistent with the image of your practice. If your logo and website have a high-end appearance, then your image should have one as well. The color, feel, and look should be same. 3. Relevant to your marketing goals. Make sure the image you select is consistent with your marketing material and your message. If your message is that you serve patients of all ages, then an image with patients of all ages would be a good choice. 4. Nonpromotional. According to Facebook regulations, you cannot have anything in your cover photo that offers a discount, is an action statement, or contains information that can be found elsewhere in your Facebook page. The goal is to keep Facebook social instead of looking like an advertisement. 5. Clear images. Any images you use should be clear, high-resolution images. Avoid grainy, pixilated, or unintentionally out-of-focus photos. The photo you choose is a reflection of you and the quality of dentistry you provide. 6. Enlist help. If you are unsure of the photo you want to use or would like to create a unique graphic, ask for help. Have a professional marketer look at your options and help you select. 7. Expect to change frequently. With Facebook, the goal is to develop virtual relationships with existing and future patients. You want them visiting your page often. As a result, you will want to change your cover photo a few times a year. So plan to use the space strategically and change it as necessary to match your marketing efforts at the moment.Now that you know the basics of choosing a killer cover photo, here are a few ideas to get you going:1. Artistic rendering of your logo. You can take your existing logo and have an artist create a unique design. But be sure not to stray from your existing marketing material.2. Featured patient. Personalize your cover photo using a portrait of a patient. You could highlight a different patient each month or each quarter.3. Office photo. If your office is something to brag about, put an image of your office as the cover photo. Remember, your office must be unique; otherwise you will look like every other practice.4. Before-and-after photo. Highlight a case with beautiful before-and-after portraits on a nice background.5. Photo montage. Create a photo montage with multiple beautiful smiles, portrait images, and team events.6. Highlight a service. Feature a service for a month and promote it in your cover photo. Be careful not to provide an offer of any sort.7. Continuation of the artwork from your website. Have a web designer create an image based on the look of your website. It will help pull together your marketing message across all spectrums. 8. Event photo. You can really humanize your practice with a great photo of your team working together at an event. 9. Award or recognition. If you were recently named top dentist by a local magazine, use the award logo as your cover photo. Follow these guidelines and ideas when creating your cover photo and you will get the most out of the new Facebook timeline feature. Marketing is something that should always be done strategically and with the big picture in mind. The cover photo on your Facebook page is one of the many pieces that need to fit consistently into your marketing. Author bioMisty Absher Clark, vice president of creative services at Jameson Management. Jameson, founded by Drs. John and Cathy Jameson, helps dentists increase productivity and profitability while decreasing stress in their profession. Jameson advisors offer in-office dental consulting, marketing services, and online education such as their recently launched Facebook University. Ms. Clark may be reached at www.JamesonManagement.com, [email protected], or (877) 369-5558. To register for a free webinar or strategic planning call for your practice, visit the Jameson website.