As Twitter has finally made available the much-talked about layout redesign to it profile pages, it's time to take a few minutes to look at the profiles and evaluate what people are seeing about your brand — and what you actually want them to see.
The new layout is much more visual, featuring both a larger cover image and larger profile photo. According to Gartner analyst Jennifer Polk, that means brands have to rethink how they want to use that real estate.
Brands need to ask themselves, "how does visual imagery play into their content marketing strategy," Polk said. "It's not going to be enough to tell their story through words."
For Australian graphic design company Canva, the reliance on images is a good thing. "The changes that Twitter has made follow a long-running shift towards promoting visual content. Since launching embedded graphics, Twitter has been providing more ways to share photos, links and videos. Using visual content is now a no brainer," said Canva's Zach Kitschke.
Here are six key points of the new profile to consider as soon as you activate the new layout.
1. Profile and cover image
If you've been slacking on your profile and cover images, this is your wake up call. Kitschke likes the large sizes (1500 x 500 pixels for the cover and 400 x 400 for the profile photos) because he says it lets you more easily brand your page.
"The first thing we did at Canva was to update our header image to show off some of the amazing layouts available in Canva," he said. This does mean, however, if you don't have some strong art, get some. Otherwise, your cover image will default to a block of color.
Polk said that at very least, brands need to go and resize their current images if they don't yet have the desired creative assets. She also said the cover photo doesn't necessarily have to be one picture. A collage, for example, can represent brand identity in a more layered way.
Twitter now lets you pin a tweet to the top of your profile, giving you the chance to place in prominence a tweet with high engagement. Kitschke said Canva is using the pin function to promote the company's nomination for the Webby Awards.
Polk recommends pinning a new tweet when the current one stops getting a high level of engagement.
Also worth noting when talking about engagement is the way that Twitter now increases the size of Tweets with more favorites and retweets. Put some thought into the idea that if a tweet gets decent traction, your profile is essentially going to shout it at anyone browsing.
There are a few features of the new Twitter layout that are more visible and accessible than they were before. One of those is the favorites section. Use of favorites differs from person to person. Some folks use it like a Facebook like, some as a bookmark, and some as a personal file of memorable tweets. Since the favorites list is a prominent link on your profile now, make sure that the tweets you've favorited are tweets you don't mind your followers seeing if they poke around your profile page.
If you see the count for your tweets including multimedia and photos and think there's no way you've Instagramed that many sunsets, remember the number is inflated by anything you've retweeted that included photos or multimedia. This is another place to double check with regard to how your followers can view your profile through this particular filter.
For a brand, Kitschke recommends taking advantage of this: "Because your visual content is more accessible, it's important to spend time creating visuals for any blog posts you create, and sharing images within your tweets."
By those lines, deliberately incorporating images into posts can help them "stand out in the river of news," Polk said. On the flip side, too many irrelevant images, or even NSFW images can turn off Twitter followers.
5. Watch who you follow
If you click on your followers or the accounts you're following, they're now formatted in a Pinterest-esque grid of cards. If you scroll down your profile, periodically, Twitter drops in two of your recent follows, so again be mindful of who you're following because it's now a featured part of your profile.
Much like the favorites, lists are also now easier to access, being right under the "More" menu. In case you've abandoned lists in the past few years, it's worth checking out the ones you may have made in the past, and the lists on which you're currently included, because again this is now a more prominent part of your brand identity.
Erin Carson has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.