social media how toTwitter is starting to look a bit like Facebook.

Twitter changed their account profiles so you can visually tell the story of your business.

With a little thought and planning, you can now create a Twitter page that performs like a business welcome page for existing and potential customers.

And you can instantly publish your story to desktop and mobile Twitter users.

What’s New With Twitter

Twitter recently announced changes to Twitter account profiles and headers. These changes include:

  • New profile header images. Now, your Twitter account starts with a main image, much like the Facebook timeline format’s cover image, but with some important differences.
  • Updated photo streams. It’s easier than ever to highlight images you have posted with your tweets and share them with your followers.
  • New mobile apps for Android, iPhone and iPad. These Twitter changes are not just on the desktop. They rolled out to most mobile devices at the same time.
today web and devices

The new Twitter header profile for the Today Show visible on the web and across all mobile devices.

While the changes may seem small on the surface, together they represent a shift in the focus and future direction for this important social media tool. Twitter wants to help you tell your business’s story with images, and wants to connect you with your community through their mobile devices.

You have a little time to figure out how you want to use the new profile headers. You can activate the new profile for your account just by adding a new header image at any time. Twitter will be forcing everyone to switch to the new layout in the future.

Here’s how to take advantage of the new Twitter features to build an exciting visual presence on your existing Twitter account.

Header Image Anatomy

The centerpiece of the Twitter changes is the new header image. This image works with your existing profile image to let you tell people about your business.

Here’s an example of a Twitter profile header image.

chuck taylors

An example of a photo used for a Twitter header profile that cleverly captures this business’s tag line.

The header image serves as a backdrop for your Twitter account information including:

  • Profile image
  • Username
  • Twitter account name
  • Twitter bio
  • Location
  • Web link

Tip: This is a great time to review and rewrite your Twitter bio to provide easy contact information.

Think about how your Facebook cover image works with your Facebook profile image to kick-start your ideas. But your Twitter header image is larger than your Facebook cover, and doesn’t have any content limitations like the Facebook cover image.

In other words, you can add words to your image such as:

  • Web address if you use a Twitter landing page for your account web link
  • Email address for easy access to you
  • Special offers and time-sensitive information
  • Announcements from your business
  • Hashtags you follow on Twitter

Your Header Image Strategy

Now that you have the basic idea, here are five suggestions for creating a header image that really promotes your business.

  1. Use a single photo that shows who you are. Your imagination is the limit here. You can show your products or customers using your products. You could highlight your employees, your office or a casual shot of people at work.
    host dimee

    A web hosting company uses a photo of its server bank as the header image for its employees’ Twitter accounts.

  2. Use a single photo that inspires your community. Choose a photo that shows the impact of your work or inspires people. Help people see the benefits of your products and services with a photo. If you support a charity, use an image of them and the good work they do.
    charity example

    An example of a trade organization using their header image to promote their charity.

  3. Use a single photo that includes your profile picture. This takes a little planning, but you can take a photo where your profile picture appears in its place.
    anthony quintano

    Take a wide-shot photo that includes your profile picture where it appears in your profile header for a clever header image.

  4. Create a collage of images that support your business message. This strategy allows you to show many different images, and is useful if your photos are too small to use as a single image.
    today show collage

    This header image includes many pictures to tell the overall story of the Today Show and its many facets.

  5. Use graphics to create a background that supports your profile image. This strategy works well if you use a logo for your profile image.
    totally rad

    A business creates a graphic that includes their logo for their header image.

Now that you are inspired, let’s dig into the nitty-gritty.

Create and Upload Your Header Image

Twitter provides few details about how to create your header image:

  • Recommended image size: 1252 pixels wide by 626 pixels high
  • Your image must be larger than 700 pixels wide for image quality
  • File must be under 5MB

Twitter automatically adds the gray shading (gradient) on the lower half of the image. Your profile text appears in white. You cannot change these features, so experiment with your image before making your final decision.

When your image is ready, you can upload it to your Twitter account from your computer or mobile device.

To Upload Your Header Image on the Web:

  1. Know the location of your header image on your computer.
  2. Log into your Twitter account (if necessary).
  3. Click the gear menu (top right). In the menu, click Settings.

    From your Twitter profile, access your settings to activate your header profile.

    Twitter displays your Account page.

  4. On the Account page, click Design.

    You can add or change your header profile image from the Design area of your account settings.

    Twitter displays the Design page.

  5. On the Design page, scroll down to the Customize Your Own area.
    customize your own area

    One option in the Customize Your Own area allows you to add or remove your account profile header image.

  6. Click on Change Header.
    change header

    The Change Header button allows you to add a new header image or delete an existing header image.

  7. Use the browse window to locate the header image file on your computer and click Open.Twitter uploads the selected file from your computer and installs it as your header image. This process takes a few seconds. When it’s finished, Twitter displays the confirmation message.
    confirmation message

    Twitter displays a message when it successfully adds your header image to your account profile.

  8. Click Me to view your profile with the new header image.
    me option

    When you add a header image, it activates the header profile for your account. You can view your new profile from the Me option.

    profile header activated

    An example of a Twitter account with the profile header activated.

Tip: Check your new header image on each of the mobile devices. You may need to make small adjustments to make sure your masterpiece looks beautiful everywhere.

Photo Stream Changes

Another important change to your profile is the new emphasis on your photo stream. When you activate the new profile header by adding your header image, Twitter also makes these changes to your photo stream:

  • The number of thumbnails increases from four to six.
  • The size of each thumbnail increases.

If you’ve been adding photos to your tweets, your photo stream may be full. If you have not been adding pictures, you’ll see blank spaces in your photo stream.

photo stream example

An example of a photo stream with fewer than six photos available. Twitter displays blank boxes for any missing images.

Because of the new emphasis on images in your Twitter profile, you should start tweeting more photos. Each time you tweet a photo, Twitter uses it to fill in a blank in your profile photo stream, or updates your stream with your six most recent photos.

Change in Photo Upload Apps

In the past, Twitter allowed you to use several photo services to upload images with your tweets. However, Twitter now requires you to either use the Twitter app or Instagram to take your photos.

Twitter no longer supports any other photo apps. All photographs you already shared on Twitter with these other services are still available in your tweet stream. But you cannot use these apps to add new photos.

instagram photo in stream

An example of an Instagram image displayed in a tweet stream.

Twitter Background Changes

The Twitter background has always provided businesses with an opportunity to update Twitter with their visual branding and a message. However, it’s been troublesome to use, and the display depends on the visitor’s browser and screen settings.

With the new header profile changes, Twitter has made some adjustments that will allow you to have a little more control over the background display. Twitter centers its information on the web page so you have room on both sides to add visuals and your message.

twitter background

A Twitter account with the header profile activated and an updated Twitter background image.

Twitter experienced some challenges with the backgrounds on some mobile devices since the launch. Look for articles with detailed instructions on creating backgrounds after the bugs are worked out. In the meantime, here are some general instructions for creating a custom Twitter background.

A custom Twitter background that coordinates with your header image and profile image gives your business a smart appearance, and allows you to tell your business’s story visually. Don’t miss this important opportunity.

New Twitter Mobile Apps

This is the first time that changes appeared on the web and mobile apps at the same time. This shows how important mobile devices are to Twitter’s business strategy and future plans.

The new header profile layout appears for each account today on the mobile apps. The header image appears in two parts, a top and bottom.

part 1 and part 2 header image

Parts 1 and 2 of a header image displayed on an iPhone. Swipe to move between the top and bottom portions of the image.

To view the bottom half of the header image, swipe the image.

If the account has not activated the header profile, the app displays a gray background instead of a header image.

liberty market

An example of a Twitter account on an iPhone with the new header profile. This business has not yet uploaded a header image, so Twitter displays a gray background.

The iPad has some exciting new features in the photo stream.

  • The photo stream only appears if your account has at least six images.
  • View a full-size image by tapping the photo.
  • Play a video by tapping on the thumbnail.
  • Swipe to move through the photo stream to view the thumbnails of older images.
  • Tap a tweet to expand it to the Tweet Card format available on the web.
ford photo stream

An example of the photo stream in its new location in the profile shown on the iPad app.

ipad expand

An example of an expanded Twitter Card on the iPad app. To display the Twitter Card format, tap any tweet.

What do you think about the new header profile and other changes to Twitter? Are you excited to see these changes on the apps at the same time? What are you planning to do first? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • John Lee Dumas

    I love this article, Charlene, as it really keeps me on top of social media! The most interesting thing happened while I was reading your article, because normally I read then check things out later, but while going through your article I started switching back and forth between this page and my Twitter account settings. Whew! this post really got me going!Thanks a lot! Keep up the great work, SME!

  • Beth

    One issue that I am having is that I can’t fill out the whole space for the profile image. It doesn’t fill up the whole grey space. Other people’s photo’s appear large and don’t have the grey space showing. How do I maximize the photo to fill up the entire space of the profile image without grey space showing?

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  • Vannessa@Luxuria

    Great article. I would love to know how you make a collage of photos as you mention above.

  • taitmarketing

    Great article. I definitely been frustrated when creating client Twitter backgrounds to get the image to appear correctly for different browser sizes. The new ‘center image option’ really helps take care of this. I’m excited to create some new custom Twitter graphic for business clients that are fresh and fun, especially ones with incorporated profile images like I’ve done on a lot of custom Facebook fan page graphics.

  • Cindy King

    Hi Vanessa, photo editing software can help you do this. You can also paste your photos into any program where you can import images and play around with the sizes and settings to get it right. You can even do this in Word.  When you’ve got everything as you want it, take a screen shot of your collage and use that to upload to your profile.  If you’re not used to doing this sort of work you’ll probably spend some time fiddling with the sizes before getting it right.   

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  • Kevin Mullett

    Well thought out article Charlene and thanks for including a link to my mobile and tablet examples. Not sure if you noticed but I created a template, free for anyone to use, that helps with the creation of a new twitter header. You can find it here.

  • Chad Egeland

    Thanks for this review of the Twitter changes. Looks like I have some work to do now.

  • Caroline

    Thanks for helping me stay ahead of the social media game!

  • Freddy Rodriguez

    Great tutorial. I was just working on one myself. I’m excited to see the results of making the change.

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  • Stilettoprince1

    Fantastic. You’ve taken me through every step.

  • deb1221

    There are also a number of collage apps that will do work for you e.g. fuzel pro, diptic, piccollage. If you search on “collage apps” you’ll find a number for different operating systems, for fee, for free, etc.

  • deb1221

    Excellent post, Charlene! Great information.

  • JocelMR

    Very thought-provoking article with some excellent examples. Thanks for sharing, Charlene.

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  • Moin Shaikh

    Yes, Twitter is surely going the Facebook way! Won’t surprise if they come up with any similar feature like a LIKE button for tweets!

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  • Jeannette Paladino

    Thanks for this highly informative post with the exact instructions spelled out so carefully. I will follow your advice and look forward to seeing how it all looks. It seems like the major social networks keep borrowing features from each other so that they are more alike than different now.

  • Andre Beukes

    The minimum dimensions are 1252×626 and that it has a file size smaller than 5MB

  • Richard Darwin

    This is an excellent and very thorough tutorial guiding you through the new Twitter Profiles. As I already made my new header photo, I was familiar with the issue, though I read the article with interest (especially thanks to the case studies of various profiles). Thanks for that.

  • SindonaX

    Like it!

  • Wout Gijsbers

     Will the profile picture and header image align correctly in mobile apps as well? (as in header Strategy tip #3 and #5). I noticed that on some of my twitter accounts these images aligned differently, thus making the created effect in the two images impossible. Any suggestions on how to preven this?

  • Dede Gruenberg


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  • Kevin Mullett

    Unfortunately Twitter chose not to ensure compatibility across mobile and desktop platforms for multiple browsers. In my tests, on both iOS and Android, tablets and phones, the alignment simply will not line up. This means you should A) check on those platforms when you finish and B) select a design style that will fail gracefully (look like it is supposed to be that way, even when it isn’t.)

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  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    I’m so glad to be part of your continual improvement process, John. Staying on top of things takes effort, but the rewards are great.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    Hi Beth, Andre has given you the answer. You have to use a really big image! Use your photo editing software to check the overall image size. If you don’t have a single image big enough, maybe you could create a collage.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    Thanks for jumping in, Andre. I appreciate your assistance!

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    Thanks so much to Debbie and Cindy for jumping in with a quick answer. And thanks for pointing out those online apps, Debbie. I didn’t know they existed. That’s a perfect example of pulling on the combined knowledge of a community to get new answers!

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    I do my own Twitter backgrounds, and I’ve been frustrated as well. I’m eager to jump in to update my own accounts. You are provding a valuable service there, Nate. Best of luck with it!

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    You had really great examples, Kevin. And thanks for popping to share your template. That will help a lot of people!

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    That’s the mixed joy of social media, Chad. There’s always something new. Good luck!

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    You are welcome, Caroline. There’s always something new.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    Glad to help! I love my new Twitter header, and I hope you love yours.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    Thanks, Debbie. And thanks for jumping in and answering a question.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    You are welcome, Jocelyn. Good luck with your Twitter profile update.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    When that happens, I’ll say I heard it from you first, Moin. Thanks for jumping into the conversation.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    They do keep borrowing, Jeannette. The new Twitter profile is easy and it’s a fun new addition. Best to you.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    You are welcome, Richard. I wanted to show people the wide range of what is possible to help inspire them. In a few months, after more people have created Twitter profile images, examples will be even more exciting and inspiring.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    Thanks for jumping in!

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    That is one of the challenges, Wout. Kevin has given you a great explanation. Hopefully, it will get easier to have consistency across platforms in the future.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    Dude. Thanks for jumping in on this answer. Much appreciated.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    Did you have a question, Dede?

  • Pat Kramer

    Great article – explaining a short Twitter blog post in depth. Personally I would love to adjust the color of the profile description font. If the background image is light, the text is hardly readible.

  • Anthony

    How do I get my profile header to change from the square box on the center-right to the long, narrow rectangl that sits above everything? Is this possible? I notice that many of my friend’s profile pages are of the long-narrow design, and that is what I would prefer. 

    Many Thanks in advance!

  • Anthony

    IE – the way your profile looked before you changed the background


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  • Besir Redzepi

    Very usefull post :) #Checkitout

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    I’m with you on that, Pat. I hope Twitter opens up the design tools to let us control even more in the near future.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    If I understand what you are asking, this changes when you add the new profile I describe in this article, Anthony.

  • Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    Thanks, Besir. What are you doing with your new profile header?

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  • Sushil Kumar

    informative post! value for time spent for reading . 

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  • Maria Brooks

    Charlene, great article.  The best takeaway is optimizing the header image with words that include links to
    Email address, special offers and time-sensitive information, and business announcements.

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  • sbrand1

    I have not been able to have a different header photo and profile photo. It must be a glitch. 

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  • T324

    Thanks for this article, Charlene! I immediately went and posted some photos so we wouldn’t have bare grey boxes!

  • Cathlyn

    Great article, Charlene, and a good read. Now I’m itching to tweak my Twitter account. It seems that Twitter is quickly following Facebook on popularity and number of users. It’s no wonder it’s now being used as a marketing strategy. It can be a bit daunting at first to use Twitter to tell your business story, but once you are familiar with the ins and outs of it everything will be like shooting a fish in a barrel.

    Found this article which may help first time Twitter users (and social media users for that matter) learn the strategy quickly and easily— This will greatly help them in growing their brand through Twitter and social networking sites.

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  • Devani Anjali Alderson

    Ah! This is wonderful! Will be passing this along! Thanks! :-) 

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  • Grateful!

    Thanks for the tutorial! Super helpful to make sure I haven’t missed anything!

  • Thomas O’Hearn

    Like a retweet? 😉

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  • MRLanicek

    Has anyone found a work around to the mobile notifications limitation? I have multiple accounts for personal and business use and I’d like to get mobile updates from select Twitter users on each account but at the moment Twitter only allows a mobile number to be associated with one account. Anyone have a workaround?

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  • bubba

    I don’t like the fact we can upload an image to share but used to be full screen its terrible we don’t get full potential

  • Elizabeth Mroczek

    Hi Charlene, I’ve set my background to the left so people can see my picture. but now on the right side there is nothing but a strip of color like a column. Any way I can put a pic there? or what could I do, it just doesn’t look right, very plain.

  • Rob Sullivan

    Charlene as as always great info. I have never been satisfied with my background image and have wanted writing in there, this gets me on my way. Thank you.
    Rob Sullivan
    Cobra Pest Control – Rhode Island

  • Scott Spinola

    Any thoughts on the new new (March 2014) Twitter profile header? Twitter says 1500×500 but it gets cropped, both on the desktop and even more drastically on mobile. I can’t figure out how to get it to not look like garbage. What are your thoughts on how to do it well?