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These ARE the Droids You’re Looking For: Twitter Strikes Back

These ARE the Droids You’re Looking For: Twitter Strikes Back

By Georgia Daubert

Unless you’ve been living inside the carcass of a dead tauntaun for the last month, you have probably noticed your Twitter profile looks a little bit different lately. Over the past couple of months, Twitter has been slowly rolling out these not-so-subtle changes, but I promise you won’t need Yoda to train you on how to navigate the updates.

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Image:  Mouldylocks

Bigger Photos – Now As Wide and As Vast as the Galaxy Itself

The biggest change you’ll notice is that your Twitter profile looks a lot more like Facebook these days. Profile photos are now bigger and have moved to the left side of your profile and your header or cover images have also been refreshed, now taking up the full width of your screen.

Twitter recommends images that are 1,500 x 500 pixels as ideal for your new cover photo. However our fabulous Director of Design, Phoebe, says 1,252 x 626 pixels is even better. This is because you have more control over the design and less of your image will be cropped. Not to worry if you don’t have the resources to resize your photos like a pro though, because Twitter says any image you choose will be automatically resized to fit perfectly.

Check out these celebs who are using the force to create excellent examples of Twitter profiles with the new design: Channing Tatum, Michelle Obama, and Weezer just to name a few.

Some recommendations to keep in mind when selecting a new cover photo:

  • Ask your client for the highest resolution images available. Blurry cover photos are worse than finding out Darth Vader is your Father.
  • Come to the dark side. Simply put, photos with dark backgrounds look better on mobile. When you view a Twitter profile on your phone or tablet, you will notice that your bio information is in white text, so a bright white background will make it hard to read (even though Twitter will apply a darker filter when you’re viewing it).
  • If you’re going to include important client info in your cover photo, make sure avoid the center of the image because it will be covered up in mobile by your profile photo and bio info.

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The background images we came to know and love on Twitter are now a thing of the past and might as well be frozen in carbonite. We used to take advantage of this valuable space to put calls to action or important contact information for our clients, however this option is no longer available.

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All Twitter backgrounds will now be uniform across the galaxy. I do have to point out, though, that you can see your old background when you are logged into your account and click on an individual tweet or your home page. I’m not sure if this is only temporary, but it is slightly confusing in the mean time.

New Layout – As Sexy as Slave Leia

The other change that affects the layout of your Twitter profile is the new three column appearance. Along the left side of your screen is all your personal information such as your profile photo, bio, location, and the date you joined Twitter, which used to be along the right side of your profile. The middle column is your actual Twitter feed. And the right side column includes suggestions on “Who to follow” and what’s trending, which used to be on the left.

Slave Leia
Image: Zzanyy

Your Photos/Videos and Favorites have also migrated to the center of your profile directly beneath the cover photo and your Lists have been hidden within the More tab, but still given a more prominent placement at the top of your profile as well. When viewing those you follow or those who follow you, they are now displayed in a grid, rather that a list. I think this version is much more visually-pleasing, though some have said they consider it harder to sift through.

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Have you noticed that some of your Tweets are looking more and more like Jabba the Hut (large and in charge) every day? This new feature is called Best Tweets and simply means that your tweets which have received the most engagement will appear slightly larger, making your best content easy to find. This new feature only applies to your own content, however, and not the content of others that you have retweeted.

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Earlier this year, Twitter also experimented with a Pinterest-like tiled design, which was never widely rolled out like this one. Perhaps it is still a possibility in our future?

New Organization – Better Than if C-3PO Did it Himself

You also now have the ability to pin one of your Tweets to the top of your profile, so it’s easy for your followers to see what you’re all about. (Facebook copycat, anyone?) You can highlight your favorite tweet on the top of your profile and swap it out with a new fave anytime you want. (I must point out, however, that pinned tweets do not seem to apply on mobile currently.) You can also filter your tweets so you only view the types of tweets you want to see. You can filter by tweets, tweets with photos and videos, or tweets and replies.

Adding the ability to filter tweets could have an interesting effect on the way we actually engage with each other via Twitter. Some people have said they think it takes the emphasis off engagement, since you now have to click twice to see who people are chatting with, while others like the fact that we don’t have to see the back and forth unless we want to. And in case you didn’t already know, if you want your tweets to always show up in the “Tweets” section, and not as a reply, just start them with a period “.” and then they won’t get pushed to the “Tweets and Replies” section.

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Taking Advantage of Visuals Like Darth Vader Took Advantage of Luke’s Emotions

The visual call-out to the new profiles you’re following is one of the most interesting changes in my opinion. You definitely want to make sure you’re following appropriate profiles though, since it’s going to show up on your feed front and center for everyone to see.

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It’s also worth mentioning the way large photos and previews of certain types of media like slide decks, videos, etc. are now displayed more prominently in your feed. You no longer have to click a link to see an attached image, instead the tweet itself expands to display the image inline with the text. This only works with media uploaded directly to Twitter, which uses a pic.twitter.com url, as well as with Vine videos. We all know that Facebook posts with photos have much higher engagement rates than do posts with just text, and it looks Twitter is paying attention. Check out this Buffer post explaining how their engagement rates went up when they started adding photos and videos to their tweets. This is just a small thing, which seems to be making a big difference, and not many people are taking advantage of this feature yet, so it’s an opportunity for you to make your clients stand out in the Twittersphere. Here are some other great examples from Moz, Unbounce, Cyrus Shepard, and Benedict Evans.

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Of course, this also means you’ll want to be careful about which visuals you’re sharing with your followers. Now might be a good time to clean up your lists and favorites if you’ve favorited a bunch of scruffy nerf herder’s tweets or created embarrassing public “I Heart Jar-Jar” lists!

Check out this awesome Star Wars Twitter Guide below, which visually explains all the new and exciting things happening with Twitter.

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I leave you with this Star Wars Rap because well, obviously.

Georgia Daubert

Georgia Daubert is the Director of Social Media at Thunder. Things that make her happy include her dog Dart, homemade pasta, Harry Potter/Game of Thrones/Doctor Who/all things nerdy, and her husband, Tom.

Give her a shout-out on Twitter and Instagram.