5 Tips to Optimize Your New Twitter Profile

Twitter recently rolled out a profile redesign to all users, a redesign that puts an even greater emphasis on the great Twitter content that you share and one that provides some bonus opportunities to make a branding splash.

What works best on these new Twitter profiles? Here are some ideas on what you might try.

1. Header photos: Learn from the best Facebook pages

The comparisons with Twitter's redesigned profiles and Facebook profiles are quite clear. The two look a lot alike. So why not take a page from the most successful Facebook pages?

Many businesses big and small have found a way to use Facebook cover photos effectively. These inspiring samples might pique your own creative ideas for your new Twitter banner. One of my favorite lists of ideas comes from Constant Contact's roundup of Facebook cover photos. Here are a couple standouts that you might consider trying:

  • Give back to your community with a user-driven header image
  • Show a behind-the-scenes look at your offices or employees
  • Show what you sell - products, services, widgets (or alpacas)

What are some of your favorite Facebook pages? Can you take a cue from them when creating a Twitter header image of your own?

2. Pin a tweet that drives an emotion

You now have the ability to pin any tweet of your choosing to the top of your Twitter profile. That's a lot of freedom. Where to begin? Here are a few options:

  • Pin one of your best tweets
  • Pin an upcoming event
  • Pin a new announcement
  • Pin a tweet that summarizes your brand and mission
  • Pin a tweet that drives an emotion

Let's talk about that last option. There are a number of different types of emotion that are prevalent in marketing, and these emotions are often tied to actions and motivation. Here's one particular emotion that might be especially relevant to your social sharing strategy:

Happiness makes us want to share.

Consider pinning a tweet that makes profile visitors feel happy -- something positive, funny, or delightful, perhaps -- and you might start a chain reaction of sharing.

Emotion in general is a good indicator of effective marketing, as evidenced in a study by IPA dataBank. Their research points to emotional content outperforming rational content nearly two to one.

3. Share more photos and videos

The value of visual content is quite well-known. Everywhere you go on social media, photos and GIFs and video dominate timelines. Buffer has done a lot of research about adding photos to tweets and making sure those photos are as self-explanatory as possible.

By Buffer's numbers, tweets with photos outperform those without. Tweets with photos get 18 percent more clicks and 150 percent more retweets.

So what does this have to do with Twitter's new redesign?

Well, photos and video are much more prominent with the design refresh. At the top of every profile is a list of links, many of which are familiar from before: Tweets, Followers, Following. One of the new additions is Photos/Videos.

People who view your profile now have easier access to the visual content that you post. You're likely already making a push for visual content, so the redesign should just add more incentive to keep your content fresh.

4. Be aware of Twitter's No. 1 rule for @-replies

If you have a tweet that you want the world to see, be careful not to start the tweet with an @ symbol.

Twitter recognizes this type of tweet as a reply, part of a larger conversation. As such, these tweets are hidden by default in a number of places around the network, including the redesigned profiles.

The new Twitter profiles offer three distinct views of your updates:
  • Tweets
  • Tweets plus replies
  • Tweets with photos and videos

The default view is simply "Tweets," minus the @-replies and conversations.

If you want to ensure that your content is reaching the masses, be careful about when and how you use the @ symbol. And if you do start your tweet with an @, be sure to place a period as the first character.

This type of tweet will end up in a stream.

5. Rethink your "favoriting" strategy

There are many of us on Twitter who use favoriting as a form of social currency -- and we're all quite generous. I've seen examples of people marking tweets as favorites any time a tweet mentions their name or anytime a conversation ends and there's nothing left to say. Favorites mean different things to different people on Twitter.

How does Twitter feel about favorites?

According to the redesign, favorites might be more important than many of us thought. The new look gives a Favorites tab a prominent place in the main navigation.

With this new focus, you might consider treating favorites in a different way. One idea is to use them as social proof for your brand. Favorite the recommendations, testimonies and positive blurbs from your customers and fans, and transform your favorites tab into a board of brand high-fives.

How will you use the new Twitter profiles?

If you've already started playing with new ideas on the Twitter profiles, what are you trying? What works? I'd love to help you brainstorm in the comments or hear your ideas on how to best take advantage of the new designs.