For marketing and PR folks, custom twitter backgrounds are absolutely necessary. That is, if you believe many very knowledgable people in the PR and social media world. It’s fairly common to see this “necessary” adaptation in one of countless “Top 10 ways to maximize Twitter” blog entries. Of course, I’m not talking about a simple, pleasing, background image, I’m referring to backgrounds designed for personal or business marketing purposes. And, frankly, I get the pro-customization point. A custom background stands out from the pack. It can communicate a level of sophistication with the platform. It allows for people to quickly and easily see your picture or logo, a brief bio and other ways to communicate with you. But…
On the surface, customization looks like a no-brainer. But I just don’t buy it. Here’s why:
1. Twitter backgrounds are only seen on Twitter’s website, and Twitter has moved very quickly beyond the desktop computer.
Twitter is a platform that is utilized in an almost innumerable number of ways, both mobile and desktop. Personally, I use either Twitter’s own desktop application or Tweetdeck when I’m at the office. When I’m mobile, I use the same applications designed for my iPhone and/or iPad. I also use various social media monitoring tools when dealing with client’s social media presence. This is not to mention that I, like most people, tend to use the “Tweet” button on blogs and article entries that I want to share. The point is that I almost never see anyone’s actual Twitter page, including my own. And I’m not sure that anyone else spends much time on other people’s twitter pages either.
2. Custom Twitter Backgrounds Almost Always Look Terrible
Don’t get upset – I’m not necessarily talking about your design itself. The problem is Twitter’s layout. You can’t change it. That’s why the only customization possible is in the background. The problem with that? Unless someone is using a very wide or even fullscreen view on their browser, your beautiful mug shot and contact information is cut in half, hidden by the timeline, and largely unreadable. I’m sure your head is very attractive, it’s just only seeing half of it is distracting and kind of creepy.
3. Custom Twitter Backgrounds Almost Always Look Terrible, Part II
Again, I’m not trying to be insulting, but… if you’re not a graphic or interface designer, then don’t try and act like one. And all of those inexpensive and/or free customization tools out there are not interested in the design aesthetics of their work. From a pure user experience standpoint, the addition of a large picture and a bunch of links and contact information is distracting. There’s already enough going on with Twitter’s page. All you are doing with all of that information is distracting my eye from your tweets. I don’t go to a person’s Twitter page for their business card, I go there for your tweets.
4. Positive First Impressions Matter
I may be alone in this, but when I go to a party and the first person I meet shoves a business card in my face and asks me what I do for a living, I turn around and walk out. When I go to a person’s Twitter page, I want to know who they are and what they are interested in by way of their Tweets. When your “brand” is the most prominent thing on your Twitter page, I start to get nervous. I don’t like pushy people. But that may just be me.
5. It’s The Content That Matters
Your profile pic tells me what you look like or what your logo looks like. Your bio tells me who you are and what you’re interested in. Your content tells me everything else I need to know. Period.
6. We’re Already Annoying Enough
Let’s be real PR and marketing folks, we can annoy the hell out of people some times. We’re so caught up in branding, marketing, self-marketing, selling and singing the praises of our clients and ourselves, we sometimes forget that Twitter is not an interactive billboard for all things us. To me, a big, brash and loud custom background is just too much. Tone it down, let your content do the talking.
Having Said All Of That…
Here are a couple custom backgrounds I actually like
@problogger – The design actually makes use of the fact that the guy’s head is cut in half.
@adamplitt – Brilliant use of the narrow top portion above the timeline. Attractive, pleasing and not at all distracting. The design actually frames the content.
|About The Author:
Robert J. Munson is a marketing and public relations strategist based in Baton Rouge, LA. His firm, RobertJMunson, specializes in modern marketing strategies including social media marketing, content marketing and corporate social strategy. Follow Robert J Munson on Twitter.