What Twitter?s New Header Display Really Means


There’s a lot of buzz about Twitter?s new header display, but what’s the big deal? Sure, Twitter profiles may get prettier but looks are only skin deep, right? Plus, most social media die-hards don’t even use Twitter.com to manage Twitter – what good is a prettier profile when it doesn’t even appear in platforms like Tweet Deck or Hootsuite? At least, that’s how it seems on the surface, but when you dig a little deeper and consider some of the other moves Twitter has been making, the new headers have a lot more implications than what meets the eye?

Increased Functionality to Come: Just over a year ago, Twitter acquired TweetDeck to expand its offerings to professional and power-users alike. More recently, Twitter trimmed down API access for third-party applications – a move that was met with mixed reviews. Now, add the new header feature to the equation and it doesn’t take quantum mechanics to derive what Twitter is trying to do. Basically, Twitter wants to make Twitter.com the best place to manage and experience everything that’s going on in the Twitterverse – as opposed to third-party platforms or applications. This means the new header image may only be the tip of the iceberg as other enhanced features are likely to follow.

Enhanced Advertising on Twitter: So what does Twitter get from focusing user interactions so they primarily occur on Twitter.com? The answer is easy – more appealing ad space. Already, Twitter has hit its stride in mobile ad revenue, generating approximately $129.7 million this year, and overall revenue is looking to be around $283.3 million. Although, still significantly behind Google and Facebook, Twitter?s current moves may make advertising in 140 characters or less that much more appealing for brands. What’s more, the header images themselves make for compelling branded profiles with a static message, while promoted tweets continue to help brands be an active part of conversations.

More Human Twitter Users: Spam-bots and fake Twitter accounts are at best a nuisance, and at worst, a major threat to the credibility of Twitter metrics. In fact, because of purchased followers, and other metric manipulation, Twitter?s co-founder, Ev Williams has even gone so far to suggest that follower count is inadequate. ?With the new headers, however, it becomes that much easier to spot a fake, or not-all-there Twitter profile. Along with other Twitter red flags like egg avatars and absent or hashtag-heavy bios, the presence of a header image clearly shows that time and thought have been invested in a profile. The header image alone isn’t a silver bullet to put fake followers to rest, but as Twitter continues to make similarly noticeable changes, the inactive or illegitimate accounts may become so painfully apparent that the practice may eventually die out altogether.

Fun with Profiles: Given that so many creative and visual people are active on Twitter, it hasn?t taken long for users to have fun with their header images. Not only is it another way for users to express themselves, but also it makes Twitter that much richer of an online environment. For all the business applications of the microblogging network, having more fun and playful elements can make Twitter that much more viable as a social channel.

How do you feel about the new Twitter header images? Weigh in in our SnapApp poll below or share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter!

 

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3 Comments

  1. Posted September 27, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    I don’t like that there is no option to position your avatar – it’s stuck in the middle. Also, there is a strange gradient effect going on, and I cannot find an option or setting to turn it off.

  2. Posted September 28, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Bruce,
    I’m with you on that one – it is definitely challenging from a design standpoint. Fortunately, this is only the first attempt by Twitter. In time, I’m sure they’ll start to build in more functionality once they get a better idea of how people really use the headers. I’ve actually come across a lot of people having trouble with the gradient, so hopefully, that’ll be one of the first fixes on Twitter’s list.

    -Andrew

  3. Amber
    Posted September 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I think it is part of what appears to be a very smart monetization strategy for Twitter. They can’t grow ad revenue until more people are interacting directly on Twitter.com. I wonder what their next move will be..?

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