Do Twitter Backgrounds Attract New Followers?

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On the Website Babble Forum someone mentioned custom Twitter backgrounds and it sparked an interesting exchange amongst us babblers. Here’s some insight on the topic.

Why is Twitter so hot?

Twitter is a great way to increase blog traffic, stay in touch with friends, meet new people, and build popularity for a brand. Usage of Twitter has skyrocketed and currently it is reported that there are over 6 million registered users which might double by 2010. And with literally hundreds of Twitter 3rd party services and applications that can accessed via the web or your cell phone it seems there’s always a new tool being introduced to enhance your Twitter experience.

How Do You Line It Up?

Twitter backgrounds are regarded as your introduction to what I like to call Twitterville. You want to make a positive “first impression” and possibly influence people to follow you.

If you use PhotoShop, RC Concepcion of Layers Magazine has an excellent tutorial on PhotoShop User TV episode #205. Don’t have PhotoShop? Then take a look at this article I came across on from Smashing Magazine called Effective Twitter Backgrounds: Examples and Current Practices. This article demonstrates the basic layout and pixel width of the Twitter home page and ways to avoid overlapping the background design with your tweet stream. I actually followed the layout rules in the article to create my Twitter background. It took me about an hour because I keep going back and tweaking it so it would be just right. I was all excited and ready to pat myself on the back.

I asked my friend to and take a look at my shiny new background. She really rained on my parade when she said – “I’m using Tweetdeck – I never see anyone’s background…”

So I rushed to open Brizzly and then over to Seesmic and sure enough, no backgrounds. I guess I never thought about it before then. Just, take a look at your twitter stream to see where the tweets are coming from. You’ll only find about 2 or 3 that are from the web (and I bet one of them is from me).

Twitter Backgrounds are for the birds!

I truly hope you didn’t spend money on a Twitter background before you read this post, and I hope you didn’t spend an hour (or more) creating a stellar background in PhotoShop like I did. Look at the bright side of things. Having a perfectly aligned twitter background does not make people follow you.  Here are some examples of very popular Tweeples and how their Twitter backgrounds appear on a standard 15-inch monitor.

Ellen holds the number 2 spot on Twitter with over 3.5 million followers. Yet, her logo is cut off on the left and so is her face on the right. So much for branding.

@TheEllenShow

@TheEllenShow

It’s been said that Pete Cashmore’s Mashable Rules Twitter and having 1.5 million followers is not bad for a non-celebrity. Hey, I can’t really read what it says about him over there on the left…But I think I’d better follow him anyway.

@mashable

@mashable

Cutting off the Whitehouse, well I never dreamed that would happen. Did you? OMG on the bottom left it looks like it says the White Ho!

@whitehouse

@whitehouse

Well at this point, I guess some of us are glad this guy is getting cut off!

@kanye

@kanye

It’s a good thing no one ever sees these things. These guys might not get followed.

Well I hope this made you smile. Leave a comment and let me know.

Smooches!

UPDATE:

Here’s the link to a gorgeous free Twitter background from artist Nicholas Patten

Infiniti Magazine has free modern Twitter backgrounds and colorful ones also

Watch my video on Twitter Meets Buzzom to learn ways to get new followers or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

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58 responses to “Do Twitter Backgrounds Attract New Followers?

  1. Great observation! thanks for the info! btw, great writing

  2. White Ho! HOLARIOUS!

  3. I think my Twitter background is pretty dorky so it was nice to read this. :)

  4. I made a collage so that no matter what screen resolution you have, it looks alright. Dunno if that’s good or bad but it works for me. ^_^

  5. You are so right. Saw Mashables Background and thought, is it my netbook or why does it look so weird? I made one that matched my Netbook-Screen but was thinking about changing it. Thx to your article, I won’t! thx a lot for saving me time ;-)
    Take care

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  7. I like the quirky cut-off ones. A background doesn’t have to be perfect, just something that pleases you.

    And don’t forget your background will look different depending on what people are clicking on. If they click on ‘in reply to’, they will see only one of your tweets, with most of your background, e.g. the whole of ‘White House’ *would* show.

  8. Has Twitter increased your blog traffic? Please advise.

    • Yes, Twitter has increased my blog traffic significantly. I’d like to think that having good content is the reason my blog has caught the attention of Twitterville. My Twitter background has no influence ;)

  9. That’s my point, you have wonderful content and I would visit sites that offer me knowledge more than entertain and amuse me….like mine. That’s what prompted my question but I knew when people window shop, they only really come in when there’s something good showcased.

    If the first post they see (window) is drab and just blab, then I don’t think there will be much traffic even though I’m tweeting everyday.

  10. I’m not going to agree with the end point of this story. I use Tweetdeck too; but my first move when someone follows me is to go to their Twitter page and check them out; so it is impressionable and I think worthy of more than the default choices.

    New users most certainly rely on those pages until they get savvy enough to use a third party piece of software; so I think there is some underestimating of the general public while making this decision based on current users.

    You know the old adage, you have one chance to make a good FIRST impression; it’s true here.

    Unfortunately, the way Twitter has been built makes it difficult to create the perfect background; nothing about it remains constant, no matter the screen resolution.

    So I know some will see my profile looking less than perfect, but hoping something about it sends the viewer a message about me and what I do and lends itself to helping me build followers as a result

    • Hey Barbara, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I hope you think about following my tweets. Cheers!

      • “Barbara” certainly has my attention and I do want to see her profile, however I will use TweetDeck to see it…..therefore, I will miss the background. 8-)

        • I love meeting new people for real conversations so am now following you Ileane.

          Not to be a protagonist (really!) but I both get E. Marie’s point and stick to my guns.

          If I’m using Tweetdeck (well, I am using Tweetdeck!) then I would agree that backgrounds are meaningless.

          But where do most users start? Not with Tweetdeck or Seesmic or other options, no, they start on the web. And in doing so will see other users web interfaces.

          I’m not advocating that you have to spend a lot of money but certainly a bit of time. Truth is, I’m a web developer on Twitter with my 2nd business which is a retail store for wine related gifts. I have PhotoShop and the ability to create my own background…and as I often do, spent way more time than I should have (ask my kids about my madness when it comes to projects!).

          I don’t advocate what I did as necessary, but when I look at http://www.twitter.com/Ileane I see a background that has shown some commitment to presenting the user in a more creative and personal way…and that DOES attract my attention more than someone using a default choice.

          Most important is including a photo for an avatar, a bio and a link to a site or blog…those are imperative and the background is an extra; the icing on the cake for me!

          • Barbara,
            BTW – Barbara is my middle name :)

            As I was writing this post I thought back to when I first started using Twitter and how I would look at other Tweeple’s backgrounds. I honestly thought having an artistic background meant you were a graphic artist (lol) and it took me a couple of days to find out you can download backgrounds from various sites. That was my initial motivation for writing the post: to reach newbies or anyone thinking of investing money on a fancy, artsy background. But in the end, I wanted my readers to get a good laugh.

            I think that E. Marie should go to the web and take a look at your background because I know how much she likes gift baskets (I’ve been on the receiving end many times).

            Thanks for the kudos on my mine. Photoshop is a marvelous tool and I watch tutorials as much as possible. Let me know if you are interested in having any site links.

            I enjoy meeting people too and since we are following each other on Twitter now, I’m sure we will meet again soon. The pleasure is all mine.

  11. I use a standard Twitter background. It was always my intent to get a fancy, me only background, and, I still might do that. But, I too noticed that much of Twitterdom uses 3rd party apps and, as you correctly point out, never see the basic twitter page. Being both lazy and having a million other things to do, I just never got to changing the background. Looks like that was okay. Hope all is well with you.

    Best Regards, Galen

    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  12. I am actually considering revamping of my twitter background. My current one is out place and doesn’t seem to fit all screen sizes….loads to do…
    I really hope this effort would help push up my numbers :)

  13. I agree with all of this. You don’t have to spend bucks to have a cool twitter background, either. Twittering has increased my blog traffic AND book sales in the long run. Great tool.

    The Old Silly

    • Hey Old Silly. I was just thinking about you. I tweeted this weeks hump day post. Keep ‘em coming. Glad to hear that your book sales are on the rise.

  14. My twitter background is when I went on trip to Mexico. So glad I did’nt spend lots of dosh on trying to put a twitter background. Thanks for the word up with this post.

    P.S. Will RT this post.

  15. Hi David,
    Nice to see you here again and thanks for the RT! See you in Twitterville.

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  17. I’m using a free Twitter background at the moment. As you said, most people use Twitter clients nowadays, so very rarely they have to see our background anyway :)

  18. Useful info.

  19. Thank you for giving me a good reason to save time!

    The custom Twitter page I slaved over was cut off. I recently deleted it. Creating a new one was on my blogging to-do list, but is now crossed off.

    Love your blog!!! (Just found it via BlogEngage.)

  20. Hi,

    BlogEngage is a great community and I’m glad you were able to find me in the midst of so many high quality blogs.

    I will look for you there too. Thanks for visiting, please come back again soon.

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  23. haha thanks for the showcase! well i do believe a good twitter background will make your site more presentable and nicer looking, making people more prone to click the follow button :P i’ve just made my twitter background yesterday too! :D

  24. Yeah, I really dont think twitter backgrounds increase your followers. But it does give them something better to look at.
    But be carefull, some of these twitter backgrounds can be really painful to the eyes

    • Hi Robert,
      Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you agree. Lately, I have been getting a lot of new followers. I can tell that they are mass following people because when I go to their twitter page, my image doesn’t even appear under “following”! Some of them have put a lot of time and progamming effort into these intricate designs, and often they can be very professional looking too. But because I know they are mass following, and I see that all of their tweets are self promoting – I just ignore them and think to myself, you can follow me, but no way am I following you back. lol

      I’ll see you over at Blog Engage very soon!

  25. Everything you say seems to be true. I find I get more followers by the more I post and engage with my followers and friends. I use Tweetdeck and hootsuite for my twitter clients and will never see any of my followers background once I have decided to follow them.

    But, when I get a follow back email, or I get a @ mention from someone I don not know, I will go to their twitter page to see if they are a spammer, bot or someone I would want to follow. The background doesn’t matter to me unless it gives me links to connect with them on other sites.

    As for my background, the only way I know it works is that some of my followers will connect with mye on my other sites or go to my websites. I only get a few people that start following from the twitter home page and those are mostly new twitter members.

    • James,

      Nice of you to visit my place.

      I stopped over at your place on Posterous and all I can say is, WOW, nice blog! I’ll be visiting again soon so that I can take a closer look.

      Thanks for the great comment.

  26. You know, you are so right. I think I just change my background because I’m a nerd at heart. Right now I have a Christmas themed background up. but I never pay for things like backgrounds because I know of too many places on line to get freebies. I like to think of myself as the queen of free. Cool article, hey I linked this article in my new post coming out on the 17th of December, and I’m going to put you in my blogroll…Merry Christmas!!

    • Hi LaTease,
      Thanks for the link luv and the support! We must keep each other up on all of the freebies. Hit me up on Twitter when you find them and I’ll do the same.

      See you at Blog Engage!

  27. I agree with James. I think the way someone uses twitter is more important than the background. Spammers with fancy backgrounds will only get followed by other bots, not humans who are aware.

    Besides, people uses different monitors so there is no way we can make a nice design that fits all those resolutions well.

    That’s why I stick with a default background of Twitter. Plus the fact that I’ve tried to upload a background image in the past and somehow it didn’t work. That was annoying ;-)

    • Hi Isaac,
      Thanks for the comment. I have links to some free backgrounds at the end of the post. They work fine. I hope to see you here again soon.

      I’m following you on Twitter now too.

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  30. I”m confessing ….i do have a twitter backround,lol. but since I’m a new tweeter and was looking for guests for my Blog Talk Radio podcast, thought it would be nice to have. Very valuable tools and tutorials , thanx for sharing .

    Please stop by my blog : http://foxeduplive.blogspot.com & click Follow if you would like to be a guest. Will repost one blog article if u also have a blog.

    I will add anyone Twitter who adds me. Just mention Ileane in ur tweet. I’m following Ileane.

    Thanx everyone!

  31. I just started using Twitter not too long ago, since then I’ve begun to love it. When I started I hated Twitter it’s allowed me to network with people in my life alot easier. News and updates happen in quickly which makes for a great social communication app.

  32. Great post! I do believe a nice background does attract followers to a certain extent. It’s that first impression thing.

  33. Any background is fine with me, I just prefer a text area and font color that makes the tweets easy to read. Some are very difficult.

  34. Ok, First of all twitter brings traffic – it’s true. But how and why? Rather than Facebook tweets are easy to read and follow.

    Thanks for your post.

  35. LOL White Ho Ileane your so funny. On a more serious note my twitter backgrounds suck and I need help making a good one.

    You can see both my blog engage and bbrina017 one are default backgrounds twitter gave us.

    • Brian, I’m glad I made you laugh. You’re another perfect example with over 2,000 followers and you never used a custom Twitter background. But there’s nothing funny about yours though. :)

      Thanks for the comment!

  36. Laugh out loud funny!
    I can rest easy, now.
    At least my cutoff would still be a legible Ankle :)

    Thanks for reminding us that most people never even see these backgrounds!

    Cheers,

    Mitch

  37. Yes if you go with a side panel of information..you have to make a size choice. I did testing on several sized monitors…but then you don’t know how zoomed in people use their browsers either. I did one for each of my accounts, but didn’t put much into it (5 min design using graphics I already had). I agree, almost no one sees it and the background doesn’t really sway me on follow or don’t follow. But now…a generic Twitter bird picture in my feed will. ;)

  38. :lol: great info thou.
    Somehow your post like a wakeup call for me, my background theme really need a change.
    Thanks Ileane

  39. I should really try adding a background image to my dull twitter account. Some people’s twitter backgrounds look way off cause they have large monitors and they forgot how users with small ones would see it.

    Retweeted :)

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