Background Prostitution

Recently, custom Twitter background images have become a popular design feature — specifically, backgrounds that give more information on the Twitterer and link to a website and email address. Because Twitter profiles allow only limited customization, a basic design standard has been unofficially developed to take advantage of different browser resolutions. Generally, this includes a top bar with a logo or name aligned left, and a sidebar box containing a headshot, information and links.

Good background images integrate well with the Twitter profile layout, and better ones look good while doing it. One of the best Twitter backgrounds I’ve seen is on Chris Brogan’s profile, because it accomplishes both while maintaining his website’s branding.

Click on the image above to see what a good Twitter background looks like, or go to Chris Brogan’s Twitter profile to see it live.

Chris uses a different photo of himself than he did for his avatar, which is a smart move. My only suggestion for Chris would be to decrease the leading (line spacing) of the text, since I can’t see his URL and email address on my MacBook at 1280 x 800 resolution (I have three Firefox toolbars open, but that’s probably about average for Twitter users).

I am a social media whore.

Instead of practicing what I preach and creating my own Twitter background image, I’ve decided to sell myself. Actually, after reading Rob Blatt’s post “Selling ads on my Twitter page” in September, I decided to sign up with Twittad and see how much somebody was willing to pay me to use background space that I wasn’t using. Basically, Twittad lets Twitterers choose a duration and price for their profile, and advertisers can then purchase the spots. After researching prices that other Twitterers with a similar amount of followers were asking, I decided on one month for $20.

I neglected to fill out my Twittad profile, and I forgot about it until today, when I got an email that my profile had sold. The buyer? Twittad. I don’t know if my profile finally sold because Twittad is launching a new advertising campaign on their own platform, or if it’s because I have a few hundred more followers than I did when I set the price, but I accepted the ad and set it as my Twitter background:

View my Twitter profile to see this ad live (at least for one month).

As Adam Ostrow pointed out on Mashable, there are a number of problems that Twittad has to contend with, the first of which is that page backgrounds are not clickable and there is no easy way for a third-party service to track any meaningful metrics other than impressions. I don’t expect Twitter advertising to be a major source of revenue for any advertisers, but it is a fun branding platform.

In fact, I’m now considering buying ad space to advertise The G Spod. I think designing a background and choosing the right profile spot will be a fun way to spend my extra $20.


I decided to donate my Twittad proceeds to the ASPCA.