Data-Driven Design Tips for Maximising Impact on Twitter

Hundreds of millions of people go to Twitter to discover new things.

Whether you’re marketing a business, or you’re just a person with something to share, it’s an exciting opportunity to connect with people who might be interested in what you have to offer.

Good design is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal to help you stand out on Twitter. You can use images and graphics to elevate your Twitter profile, and all of the content you share with your followers.

As a designer on Twitter’s small business marketing team, I want to make sure our account, @TwitterSmallBiz, is using compelling and innovative designs and following some basic best practices. I’m also lucky that as part of my work, I’m able to see all the inspiring ways different businesses and people from around the world bring their creativity to Twitter.

There are a few key places that you can use design to add more impact to your Twitter presence. In this article, I’ll take you through them, share some of my own designs, some best practices we’ve discovered by looking at our internal data, as well as the tips I’ve learned along the way.

I’ve also curated Tweets from other accounts around the world, so you can see how people on Twitter are using graphics, photos, illustrations and other visual elements to make an impact.

Under each element you’ll find relevant specs and size requirements. You’ll be ready to plug those into Canva and create customized graphics for your Twitter profile and your Tweets. Let’s go!

Twitter Profile Photo

400 x 400 pixels

The default Twitter avatar is an egg on a plain background. Don’t stop there! It’s a missed opportunity — your avatar shows up every time you Tweet, so make it a visual calling card. Choose a photo or graphic that represents your business and fits well in a small space. Logos are a great choice, but you could also use a photo.

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At @TwitterSmallBiz, we use our logo. It’s simple and instantly recognizable. Fun fact: the logo has a name, and it’s Larry the Bird.

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You can also use a bold color with a contrasting font to spell out your name. That’s the approach @Tiendeo, a Spanish app, has taken. It’s simple and eye-catching, but probably best if you can keep the text short.

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Of course, a great headshot is always an option. It works for President Obama!

Twitter Header Image

1500 x 500 pixels

Cropped to a 2:1 aspect ratio on mobile

Your header image is where you have more space to play in — you can be a bit more creative and mix it up! If your general design aesthetic is simple, try a repeating pattern in colors that complement your avatar. If you have great photographs of your products or your employees, crop them to the perfect size and experiment with some filters or text overlays.

Try changing out your header every few months: you can design something seasonal, or launch big news by using text over a fun graphic. For our header image, I designed a banner in our signature color, using icons in similar tones. This creates a cohesive image that still has strong visual interest.

Here are some other great Twitter header images from businesses around the world:

@Canva turned their mission statement into a bold graphic. Using brighter colors on a dark field helps their message pop.

@HeathCeramics, a California-based ceramic and tableware company, keeps it simple. Their header uses a repeating pattern that calls back to the natural textures and tones in their product.

@AgricolaShop, an Italian store, has changed up their header image to celebrate the Christmas holiday. Seasonal imagery sets an immediate mood.

@Clue, a cycle tracking app, combined some product illustrations with a tagline. Their cover photo perfectly complements their Twitter avatar!

Tweets

Images attached to Tweets can be up to 5MB

They must be GIF, JPEG, or PNG format

Minimum dimensions 440 x 220 pixels; Maximum 1024 x 512 pixels

People are visual: Tweets with images attached get 313% more engagement. That means they’re more likely to be interacted with, and shared. Your Tweet copy maxes out at 140 characters, but you can add up to four images to a Tweet. If a picture is worth a thousand words, well…you do the math!

Here are a few ways I add images to our @TwitterSmallBiz Tweets, and some guidelines for each.

01. Statistics

Data doesn’t have to be dry! You can use a tool like Canva to take your latest research and make a mini-infographic with bold colors and a minimalist design. Keep the focus on one or two stats to keep the design from feeling overwhelming.

The bright fuschia pops when complemented with our signature blue. And of course, Larry the Bird is present so people can see where this stat is coming from at-a-glance.

Statistics can be celebratory! @PeriscopeCo created a colorful image to mark their milestone. Placing the white shape behind their number ensures that it doesn’t get lost in the graphic.

@ANGAus used four photos with statistics to create a quiz game for their followers. According to our internal data, using more than one photo with a Tweet increases engagement by 173%, compared to just using a single shot.

02. Photography

Photos add a human element to your designs. Stock photos can feel generic, but can be a great starting point: use filters, text, and other design elements to customize them. Or take out your smartphone and start snapping! At @TwitterSmallBiz, we love to use photos to bring our followers behind-the-scenes.

This was a silly Halloween moment at work. The holidays often provide a photo-op! It’s the perfect time to show the human side of your business.

@MissEmilySkye is a personal trainer. Her shots have a casual feel, but are well composed and keep the focus on the fitness. Note the subtle branding — before you Tweet a photo, think about adding a call-out to your Twitter account or name on it. If it gets shared widely, people will always be able to trace it back to you.

@MujiaeResto, a Korean restaurant in Indonesia, often pairs photos of their delicious dishes with Tweets asking their followers which combinations they enjoy the most. Combining a question with an enticing image is often a successful way to start a conversation.

03. Text overlay

If you keep running out of characters for your Tweets, this tactic will come in handy. It also helps you keep your Tweet copy shorter, a tactic our research found can increase your engagement by 18%! Upload a photo to Canva or start with a plain background,  and add your text over it. Keep your message short and sweet, and use contrasting colors so it’s easy to read on desktop or mobile.

This graphic is very simple, but the right background really makes it pop. While we want to encourage the reader to learn more by clicking through to the blog post, by pulling the main points into the image they’re able to see the key takeaways at-a-glance.

@LivenAustralia used text to turn their image into a contest flyer. By encouraging Retweeting, they’re also helping to spread their brand beyond their follower base.

@FitBit used a photograph with a centered caption to share some exciting product news. The active photo and italicized text gives the entire image a feeling of movement.

04. Animated GIFs

Attached just like a regular image, GIFs will autoplay on Twitter. We see higher engagement rates when people Tweet them; and no surprise: it’s hard to look away from these fun, looping “mini-videos.” For our GIFs, we try to keep it clean and bold. Using your designed graphics and tools like makeagif, GIFmaker, and imgflip, it’s really simple to create something eye-catching.

Think about how you can repurpose your marketing assets. In this case, we clipped this GIF from a longer animated video.

@Mashable created a mini-infographic using a GIF. By keeping the movement centered and the background darker, it’s easy for people to read the text.

A GIF can also act as an animated flyer! @Bezar promoted their event with bright, contrasting colors and product shots on a solid background. The quick, flashing movements help build excitement and

Twitter Cards

800 x 320 pixels

Think of Twitter Cards as an image with a bonus. When you attach them to Tweets, they work to guide interactions with that Tweet. They’re designed to drive traffic to a website, installs of an app, or submissions to a lead form.

For @TwitterSmallBiz, the card we use the most is the Website Card. We’re always sharing links to our website, blog, and ads.twitter.com. When you use a Website Card, your link is hidden behind an image and a customizable call-to-action button. The design is clean — no messy URL string — and using a bold, compelling image encourages people to click. Tweets with Website Cards get 43% more engagement than just Tweeting a link.

We tend to stick to more minimalist designs; this is another place where we use statistics and text overlays to grab attention and get our message across.

Keep your Tweet copy minimalist, too: Website Cards paired with Tweets that don’t include an @ mention or a hashtag drive 23% more clicks!

In this Website Card, we combined a photo with a filter and a text overlay. Since “Campaign Guides” is our main focus, we used a bright color. And, of course, we’re including our logo.

Statistics can work well on Website Cards, too! Since they’re a bit smaller, keep the focus on one.

You’ll notice we often ask a question in our Tweet copy. This approach is data-driven: Website Cards paired with Tweets that include a “?” drive 25% more clicks, according to our research.

For a Website Card promoting access to a music festival, UK app @Jukely used a filter to overlay their signature neon purple onto a photograph.

A great product shot can make for a very inviting Website Card. Here, French business @TeamWistiki shows off their token, which helps people find lost items. The orange in their logo and the Wi-Fi signal icon stands out against the mostly-white image.

Get Started With Twitter Design…

Now you’re ready to take these practical tips and add some flair to your Twitter presence! Canva can help you unlock your creativity: just use the dimensions we’ve shared above and start experimenting. For more helpful Twitter advice and inspiration, visit our Twitter for Business website and our Small Business blog.

Click here, to start designing graphics for Twitter in Canva.

Happy designing!

After receiving a degree in Graphic Design from the California College of the Arts, Emy Joyeux has worked as a designer for San Francisco chocolate-maker TCHO, the non-profit 826 Valencia, and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. She currently works for Twitter as the visual designer on the small and medium-business marketing team. She specializes in both print and digital design.