New Twitter Profiles – What You Need to Know


Twitter has now rolled out its new profile pages and there are quite a few improved features. Here’s how to get it (if you haven’t yet) and what you need to know.

First of all, if you haven’t noticed your Twitter profile changing, you can get the new profile by going to this page and at the bottom click ‘Get it now’.

Old Style Twitter profile page

Old style Twitter profile page

The first obvious change is the layout – instead of the old version with a full-screen background and a header image the width of the main column of tweets, we now have a full-width header with your Twitter avatar (the image that represents you) offset to the left. The look is a bit like Facebook, and indeed some people have criticised Twitter for merely imitating Facebook rather than coming up with something more original.

New style Twitter profile page

New style Twitter profile page

Personally I quite like the new look. Having the larger avatar, plus the name and description on the left feels clearer and cleaner, and I also like the additional detail of showing the date joined. Also on the left we now have a feature ‘Followers you know’, which, again in a Facebook-esque touch, is designed to help you decide whether this person is worth following.

Underneath the header, a horizontal menu now gives pride of place to the stats (numbers of tweets, photos, followers, following, favourites.) It’s a shame that Lists is now relegated to the ‘More’ dropdown menu, as I think it makes this great (and under-used) function even more hidden. But the other advantage of the layout is that the tweets themselves are now higher up on the page and centre-stage.

Another welcome improvement is the ability to filter out all the @ replies. This means that unless you click on ‘Tweets and replies’ when you view someone’s profile, you don’t have to wade through all the one-to-one back-and-forth conversations that go on. Not that @ replies are a bad thing – far from it, as they can be an indicator that a person is actually engaging with people, and not a broadcaster or a robot. But for a quick assessment of the quality of a person’s tweets, it’s easier when you can opt to just view their ‘open’ tweets.

Twitter profile page - new style tweets and replies option

You’ll notice that in the new profile some tweets appear enlarged. This happens to your most retweeted or favourited tweets, as a way of highlighting them, so the visitor’s eye is drawn to your ‘Best Tweets’. And another way of drawing attention to specific tweets, but this time it’s under your control, is to ‘pin’ a tweet to your page. This means it stays at the top of your tweet stream until you ‘unpin’ it. Again, the highlighting and pinning functions are not unlike Facebook, so if you’re familiar with Facebook you’re get the idea right away.

So what should you do with your new profile?

Do the following – start by clicking on the ‘Edit Profile’ button on the top right of your profile page.

Twitter edit profile

    1. Create and upload a suitable header image. You have ONE big image now – it’s prime real estate, so don’t waste it. See how Mindy McGinnis (above) has used hers to promote her latest book. But it could equally be something more abstract or atmospheric – just choose an image that says something about you.

Size: Twitter recommends 1500 pixels wide x 500 pixels high, but on a large screen that will be stretched out beyond looking nice. So go for bigger – 3000 x 1000 pixels would be good, at as high a resolution (dots per inch) you can manage, for good quality. There’s a 5MB maximum size though – and if you exceed this it’s likely you’ll just find it takes AGES to load (and never does) – you don’t always get told what the problem is, but it’s likely to be size.

2. Create and upload your avatar. This should be 400 x 400 pixels. On your profile it appears at 200 x 200, and smaller on your tweet stream of course. But when someone clicks on it they’ll see the large version. The main thing is to make sure the quality is good and the image still viewable when shrunk.

The good news is that you no longer need a background image. With the old layout it was always a faff to create a background image with logos or writing or images on it, because bits of it were always going to be obscured. So just choose a plain colour that complements your header and other colours (text, links etc). I think you’ll be pleased with the final effect.


Show your face and increase your credibility


Are you happy to show your face online? Or would you rather show a photo of yourself with a baby, or a pet, or obliquely, so people can’t really see your face? Or do you prefer a lovely view of your garden or a default avatar?

anonymous avatars versus faces on twitter

Who would you trust?

Sometimes resistance to showing your face is a privacy thing – why is my face relevant? Sometimes it’s a security thing: you don’t want the wrong sort of attention for your children, or something like that. Or maybe you’re just a bit shy. Nothing strange or wrong with that.

The thing about the social web is that being honest and open carries enormous weight. Anyone who appears particularly reluctant to show their real face can seem suspect. At the very least, you might suffer a loss of credibility if you present yourself in a homely way. By that I mean that unless babies, pets or gardens are relevant to what you write about professionally then you may not be creating a great impression.

Taking a photo is not a big deal these days – you (or someone you know) must own a smart phone with a camera. Take a ‘selfie’ headshot. Send it to your computer with Bluetooth or whatever means you use. If you don’t have any good image editing software, no worries – go to Pixlr  free online editing software and you can crop, edit and save your image when you’re happy with it. Save several sizes of your headshot (different sites will want different sizes) and use the same image across your social profiles. That way you’ll start to be instantly recognisable wherever you go, including when you comment on blogs.

Showing your face is one of the quickest ways to gain credibility and recognisability on the social web.