Welcome! This 9-part blog series explores the best ways to gain Twitter followers by optimizing your profile, from banner to pinned tweet, using real Twitter account examples to illustrate the concepts.
In part 3, we'll focus on the profile picture.
Let’s start with some Twitterverse theory and then let’s dig into some examples 🤓
Your profile components can be categorized into three levels of exposure:
The profile picture is visible pretty much everywhere you show up on Twitter! It has a high level of exposure.
Before we can move on from the basic stuff, here’s what you need to know regarding the actual image file you will need to upload:
Your Twitter profile picture is a critical element of your profile because whether people pause or scroll past your content is dependent on their initial impression of you, of which your profile picture and name play the most important part due to their level of exposure. Your profile picture and name are consistently displayed with every tweet, making this small round image and brief text carry significant weight. Make it count!
To make it relatable, you need a real photo of yourself. Professionally taken portraits work best, but a normal headshot will do just fine. As cheesy as it sounds, having a beaming smile in your profile picture can make you come across as friendly, and open to a nice conversation and can make a huge difference.
What you want to avoid most of the time, especially if you’re not using a pseudonym (and I recommend you don’t, more on that in the next chapter), are memes or low-res images.
If you want to use AI-genned avatars or even illustrations/caricatures, make sure it still looks like you and that it’s relatable. Your profile picture should reflect who you are. People will be more likely to engage with you if they feel like they are interacting with a genuine and authentic person.
This is so important. Don’t change your profile picture. Visual memory is important. You want people to recognize you instantly when you show up in their feed and that can only be achieved with constant, long-term exposure to your profile picture.
This is how people will associate with you for months or even years to come. Over time, if you change your picture too frequently, you’ll confuse your followers, and they won’t recognize you. Confusion is not what you want when it comes to building a brand or online presence.
Avoid using busy or distracting backgrounds that take the focus away from you. A simple and clean background will help keep the focus on you and make it easier for people to recognize you.
Another important consideration is to make sure that your picture is cropped correctly and looks good in the circular format used on Twitter. You don’t want any important parts of your picture to be cut off or obscured by the circular frame.
It’s also important to keep in mind that your profile picture should be consistent with the overall tone and style of your brand. When someone lands on your profile, do all the components follow a harmonious and coherent theme? See Part 1 for a reminder of what a good overall profile should look like.
Having a good profile picture is easy. Just take a good authentic headshot and that’s it! There are a couple of different styles that you can choose from, however.
Let’s start with the regular headshot. Here’s an example by Adam Collins:
If not just a classic headshot, go for the full-body shot instead. Adding humor to your pic will surely make it better 😉 This is what Pieter Levels did:
Another popular variation of the basic headshot is when you remove any background image. All that remains is your floating face and a solid color/gradient. Let’s use Lilian’s profile picture as an example, which I believe has the best profile picture I have ever seen. How much more catchy can it be? 😁
Finally, I will batch a bunch of other profile pic styles together. The avatar/AI-gened/cartoon/illustration profile pic. This can work as long as people can still relate to you as a human being. Here’s one that I like from Xavier Coiffard:
Whatever style you choose, make sure it gives a very good first impression.
You now have a bunch of tips to optimize your Twitter profile. A bunch of experiments you could make. But how can you know if a change you did was truly effective? You don’t just want to be randomly changing stuff on your profile and hope for the best. You need data.
This is where Birdy comes in 😎 Birdy is a tool I created to specifically optimize your Twitter profile. It uses a technique called “A/B testing” under the hood. Create two profile versions and let Birdy determine which one converts more visitors into followers.
It's worth making a solid A/B test for your profile picture. You don't want to change it often, so you better pick the right one.
Now on to Part 4: How to create the best Twitter profile name where we explore the third profile component, the profile name.