Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (visual elements)
Visual elements. There are two areas on Twitter where you can make a visual impact, and it has nothing to do with what you’re actually tweeting. No, scratch that, there are three. Kinda.
The first, most obvious one, is the avatar for the account. Here’s where you should put the company logo. Don’t have a logo? Then it can be a picture of the person doing the tweeting, as this is supposed to be something of a conversation. Other choices for an avatar can be a picture of the company mascot, if there is one. Or a photo of one person (the main tweeter) on the Twitter team, although if two or three people are doing the tweeting, what about a closeup of both or all three of them, photo booth style? This will depend upon your industry and your image therein. But at the very least, you must get away from a generic Twitter avatar.
Where’s the second area where you can make a visual impact? It’s your background. Here’s where your company logo can go if it’s not already being used for the account’s avatar. If it’s a well-known logo, that will add to the visual impact, so long as you’re not using the logo for both the avatar and the background, which is overkill unless both are subtle.
Depending upon monitor or device size and screen resolution, some parts of the background will be hidden or revealed, so make sure to place the logo on the left of the background, preferably near the top, and test the look on several different-sized monitors and devices, and utilizing different resolutions and operating systems. You will not be able to customize the look for each setup (like you can with Cascading Style Sheets), but at least you’ll get an idea of where you’re being cut off. Naturally, you want to optimize your visual elements for whatever setup your customers are most likely to be using — if your target audience has vision problems (e. g. perhaps they’re elderly), the most likely setup may very well involve a larger than standard screen resolution.
Below the upper left corner is some space directly to the left of where the tweeting actually occurs. To the left, vertically, you have a little room in which to place the company web address, a telephone number and possibly a short slogan. Twitter is meant to be short and sweet; don’t get caught up in adding a lot of verbiage here. Less can certainly be more in this case. Keep in mind, too, that any verbiage you place here in the background image cannot be searched on.
You can also add a picture just below your logo, or in place of it, in either the upper left corner or along the left-hand side. Try, perhaps, a picture of the Twitter team. There’s a great impact to be had from offering pictorial evidence of who’s listening. Another option is to place a picture of your main product here.
There is also some space to the right. However, this is the part that seems to grow or shrink depending upon monitor or device size and resolution. I recommend putting nothing much (if anything) here as you don’t know how it will be cut off. Although, if you have a color that is readily associated with your company (think of Starbucks green here) or website, make sure that any unused portion of the background contains at least that color. Utilize that space as a part of a more unified design, but not as a focal point.
What’s part three? It’s small, and not every company lends itself to this. But for companies with readily recognized logos, it can be golden: the Twibbon.
A Twibbon is a small logo or picture placed in the lower right corner of an avatar. Sparkpeople does this well, as theirs (it’s actually the cover of the site founder’s book: ) is orange and easy to spot. Sparkies can readily spot one another. But it’s another unsearchable visual.
However, adding to its brilliance: it’s not the site’s own accounts that sport the Twibbon; it’s the site’s followers. Here the site’s followers are also virally getting the visual message across, not only in their tweets but also in their avatars’ presences on other tweeters’ follower lists.
The Twibbon seems to work best with either sites with a lot of users or charities or cause-related/ideological/religious situations. It’s doubtful that an accounting firm could get anyone to sport its Twibbon (no matter how lovely), but the Republican Party, LiveStrong and the ACLU (of these three, only the ACLU doesn’t seem to have a Twibbon of some sort) can and could all do very well. A quick and tiny visual, so long as it’s readily recognizable, can really get across a message.
You most likely don’t need to use your own Twibbon much but, if you do, it’ll look odd if the avatar and the Twibbon (and, perhaps, your background) are just different-sized versions of the same visual. You’d need to choose. If you’ve got several visuals that could work, mix them together, although less is probably going to be more here. Once the Twibbon is established and people are using it, you might want to drop it from the official Twitter account(s). What you tweet is, naturally, important, but consider the other areas where you can enhance your message. These basic visuals can help you to place an exclamation point at the end of your tweets.