Whether you're using Twitter to network or to build your personal brand, your profile page is your bona fide business card in the social media world. Sure, LinkedIn is the place where you share your professional history, but it is Twitter where you share your professional personality.
When the micro-blogging service introduced new profile headers last month, early adopters flocked to their design settings to take advantage of the new look (check out @RapidAndi's clever creation for an example). These recent changes push your Twitter visuals front and center, so whether it's your avatar or your posted pics, they now occupy more prominent real estate on your profile page.
Since Twitter doesn't force you to change your current header design, it's up to you to dive into the settings to make the new look work. While that might sound easy, it's far from it.
While Twitter's new profile header is Facebook-esque, what the world's largest social network does right is to separate your photos and your text (namely, your bio). It doesn't take a design nerd to quickly figure out that laying text over an image isn't always pretty, but unfortunately that's your only option with the new Twitter.
What this new design does well is to give brands a better opportunity to market their products and services. For example, take a look at TV weatherman Al Roker's page, which now includes a header promoting his new book. While the design isn't perfect, it certainly brings Roker's latest project into the spotlight.
The same holds true for celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck and his colorful header image featuring food people first. Another thing @WolfgangBuzz nails is beautiful photography, which looks great on the newly highlighted images area on Twitter. With news that Instagram is now bigger than Twitter on U.S. mobile devices, this newfound focus on photos makes sense. People want pretty pictures.
Here are three Twitter profile tips to spruce up your page.
1. Create your new Twitter header.
After you select the "design" option within your settings, you will see "customize your own" design halfway down the page. This is where you can change your header (recommended dimensions of 1200x600 and maximum file size of 5MB). When you decide which photo you want to insert here, you can upload it to see how it looks as your header. It took me a few times to figure out a look that I like. While I didn't have time to design a custom image, I did take an Instagram photo and blew it up so my Twitter text is easy to read. For someone like me who wants to continue to build my personal brand, what I do and the links to these businesses is more important than a distracting header image. In short, keep it simple. Avoid using images with text or color that overpower your bio information.
2. Update your profile pic.
I've written in the past about putting the "pro" in your profile picture. Now that Twitter is giving you the option to push this image into the center of your header, it's probably a good time to get rid of your "egghead" and get a new headshot. If you don't want to pay money for a high-end shot, get a friend to help you for free. Just remember, make sure you're facing a window or using a light and put your best face forward. Most importantly, use an image that reflects your professional personality.
3. Improve your photo stream.
Like it or not, your photos are now a bigger part of your Twitter profile, on Twitter.com and on mobile devices. Next time you post a picture you might want to consider this image as an extension of your brand. As a recent ROI Research study found, "44 percent of respondents are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures than any other media." So, it's time to get tweeting--and snapping.
When you're using the web version of Twitter you will also still see your background photo, so this is yet another opportunity to market yourself. With the above changes you will have a better chance to put your best face forward in the social media space.
However, as much as images will help your image, don't forget that Twitter success still stems from creating and sharing great content, 140 characters at a time.
[Image: Flickr user Rubén Chase]