With over 645 million users and 9,100 million tweets happening every second, Twitter marketing is getting sort of complicated. With that much chatter, it’s tricky to get people’s attention. So how do you entice your audience to notice your message? Use Twitter images and video.
Twitter Images can Ignite Your Marketing Results
Marketers are chatting about how graphics are improving engagement as Keith Agnew (@8keith) attested to when he shared impressive growth he has had during a SEOchat on Twitter.
— Mary Iannotti (@maryi) April 3, 2014
Visual art in the form of graphics and images can turn a boring 140 character tweet into a creative message that’s more appealing to your followers. When done well, visual images can grab your followers’ attention and pull them into your message. Video can make your followers stop and watch your message. As a matter of fact, data shows people respond favorably to visual tweets by sharing them more often with their followers.
A Twitter study found, “tweets with photos and videos produced sizable bumps in retweets — 35 percent for photos and 28 percent for videos.”
Types of Visual Art – Twitter Images, Video and More
There are a variety of image and multimedia mediums you can choose from to make your tweets more entertaining and entice people to share your message. The two types folks are most familiar with are images, and video hosted on popular streaming platforms such as Vine and YouTube. But wait, there’s more. Twitter Cards, a very cool new technology by Twitter, opens up more options because it enables you to share multimedia hosted on your website including images with descriptions, videos, product showcases, photo galleries and links to apps.
I’ll explain the various mediums and show you some advantages they offer. Then you can decide which medium will be best suited for your goals and audience.
Ways Twitter Images and Multimedia Can Appear in Your Message
Images can appear inline, right in a Twitter stream. Inline images only appear for folks viewing their stream on Twitter or TweetDeck and don’t appear on HootSuite. A link instead of a visual shows up on HootSuite. These visuals stand out on a smartphone and look really slick. On Twitter, a small image appears in the tweet with a link to Expand the view so the entire image appears. Be aware the small image will be cropped and may not always look good.
Twitter Image Tip
If you size your image to 440 x 220 pixels before you upload it to Twitter, the full image will appear inline and parts won’t be cropped off. When you click on the Expand link, you’ll see Twitter activity rather than a larger image.
Create conversations by commenting on your social platforms. pic.twitter.com/0GP0OvDOXi
— Mary Iannotti (@maryi) March 27, 2014
For tweets with video hosted on popular streaming platforms, followers must click on a View media link to view the video right in their stream. People no longer have to click through to streaming sites such as YouTube to watch video from Twitter.
Social media superstars share advice on how to create relationships w/ social influencers to gain exposure http://t.co/l2TUHvVehL
— Mary Iannotti (@maryi) March 24, 2014
Vine video clips appear inline on TweetDeck and smartphones. The video enlarges when you play it. Vine videos viewed on the desktop version of Twitter don’t appear inline, a link appears instead.
You can also share slide presentations from SlideShare.
— Mary Iannotti (@maryi) April 4, 2014
How to add Twitter Images and Video to Your Message
You can easily add images using Twitter, TweetDeck, Buffer or HootSuite by attaching them to your message.
- Image file size must be below 3 MB, a restriction set by Twitter.
- Only GIF, JPEG, and PNG files are supported. Animated GIFs will not work right now.
- Buffer recommends images are sized to 440 x 220 pixels, centered and aligned vertically. Always use a 2:1 aspect ratio, and vertically centered graphics and text. This way your images won’t be cropped when viewed inline.
Friends+Me is a cool tool that shares your Google Plus posts to Twitter. If your post has an image, it will appear inline on Twitter and is automatically resized for the expanded view.
You can now add up to four images to your tweet from a smartphone and you can tag people in the photos.
Video and Slide Presentations
Add videos and slide presentations by including a link in your tweet no matter which platform you use to compose your tweet. You can use the Vine app to share Vine videos to Twitter from an iPhone or Android smartphone. You must use a Player Twitter Card if you want to share videos hosted on your website.
One exception is when you share a Google Plus post with video from Friends+Me. An inline image of the video appears in a Twitter stream. Followers can’t view the video from Twitter, they have to click on the link to the post and view the video on Google Plus.
Twitter Cards Can Boost Creativity and Shares
Twitter Cards open up your visual art pallet by offering a multitude of creative venues. This variety will go a long way in keeping your followers engaged. With this technology you can share videos, a collection of photos and more. People have to click a link to view any of these types of multimedia but then they can view it without leaving their stream. All media is automatically resized to fit in the view.
There are seven types of Twitter Cards and an app extension. Each one offers you a different way to spice up a tweet.
- Summary – includes a small (thumbnail) image with a title and brief description
- Summary with large image – similar to the Summary card but with a bigger image
Summary cards will add extra text to your message, beyond 140 characters. These are a good option if you want a longer message along with an image.
- Photo – displays a large photo
- Product – great way to feature products
- Gallery – shows a photo collection
- Player – displays video/audio/media. Twitter has strict specifications for sharing video that’s hosted on your website. You can read them here.
- App Card – provides a profile of an application
- App Installs and Deep-Linking – an extension for any card which adds app download and deep linking
Setting Up Twitter Cards
Some setup is required before you can use Twitter Cards.
- You’ll have to add meta tags to your site. This is markup that provides Twitter information so your card displays in your stream properly.
- You must validate the website domain where your image and multimedia are hosted.
Let’s look at each of these steps.
How to Add Twitter Card Meta Tags to a WordPress Website
There are three methods you can use to add meta tags to your WordPress site. I’ll explain two plugins you can use that will add the tags for you. Plugins are the easiest way to get the tags on your site. The third option involves adding the tags manually to your website software code. If you don’t have a WordPress website, check to see if your platform offers a plugin or follow the manual option.
Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin
If you are already using this plugin this is the easiest way to set up Twitter Cards and it’s the method I used for my website. Go to the SEO menu and select Social. Then click on the Twitter tab.
Click the box next to Add Twitter card meta data, enter your Twitter Username and select the default card type you want to use from the menu. Save your changes.
After this you’ll have to validate your card for your website. Click on Twitter Card Validator and view my steps on how to do this.
This plugin allows you to customize your Twitter Card for each post. It’s a great option if you don’t use a SEO plugin, but it’s also compatible with Yoast’s SEO and ALL in One SEO plugins. JM Twitter Cards uses data from both of these plugins. If you use SEO by Yoast do not activate the Twitter Card option because tag markup will be added twice.
I use this plugin on a blog I manage and found it easy to set up. The plugin has been downloaded over 40,000 times and there’s fantastic documentation. Kudos to the developer Julien Maury for supplying in-depth documentation because that’s hard to come by with free WordPress plugins.
Once you’ve installed the plugin, from your left-hand menu go to Twitter Cards. You’ll have to fill in some settings and you can follow Julien’s great documentation to do this. You can read his instructions right from your WordPress dashboard.
After you set up the plugin, you’ll have to validate your card for your website. Click on Validator and view my steps on how to do this.
Add Meta Tags to Your Website Code
Cyrus Shepard walks you through how to add these tags to your website in Must-Have Social Meta Tags for Twitter, Google+, Facebook and More You’ll have to add a tag for each card you want to use and tag mark up can be found in Twitter Cards Markup Tag Reference After you set up the tags you have to validate each card for your website so follow the steps in the next section to do that.
Validating Twitter Card URL
To begin, visit the Twitter Card Validation website The plugins will have a link to the validation site. Once you are at the site, you may be prompted to log into your Twitter account before you can begin.
The first time you’re validating a card that will be used for multimedia or an image hosted on your website, you’ll have to fill out information to identify yourself.
Then choose the Twitter Card you want to use.
Then you’ll see this screen populated with the meta tags associated with the card you selected. You don’t have to add any information here, just click on the Validate and Apply tab to continue.
Next, enter your email address and click Go!
You’ll receive a confirmation that your approval is pending. Twitter will send you an email once it’s approved. That’s all you have to do!
You must validate your domain for each Twitter Card you want to use. So, if you want to use Summary and Photo cards, you’ll have to validate your domain for each card. After those cards are approved for your domain, you won’t need to validate blog posts or any other URLs you want to tweet with those cards again.
Twitter Card Analytics
Insight to track the performance of your Twitter Cards is available through analytics Click-through rates, influencers who’ve shared your tweets and sources your tweets were shared from are just some of the data that’s available. Through analytics you can test various cards to see which ones your audience enjoy the most.
Choose Visual Art That Reinforces Your Message
Before you get too excited and start tweeting dozens of visuals, make sure they reinforce your message and are aligned with your brand. If your message is about how your software will save people time don’t use an image of a cute animal or a cartoon that doesn’t match the context of your message. If you can’t come up with any photos, use an infographic that highlights data, benefits or a short message. Some people choose a visual just because it’s known to entice re-shares. Don’t fall for that strategy. It will confuse your audience and hurt your brand.
Keep in mind when adding visuals to tweets the image URL takes up characters so a 140 character limit reduces to 112 – 115 characters. If you also include a URL to a post, your limit gets reduced even further. Since you have less text, it’s essential that your visual lends a helping hand in communicating your message.
Be a Visual Artist on Twitter
So now you can start using Twitter images and multimedia to entertain and engage your followers. And you’ll probably gain more exposure through re-shares which will boost your Twitter marketing results. Adding images and video to your tweets is the fastest and easiest way to add visual art to your messages. Twitter Cards take a little time to set up but offer you more creativity and more ways to promote your services.
Twitter Cards – more information about Twitter Cards and how they work.
Introducing Analytics for Twitter Cards – tips on how to use analytics.
Photo of bird compliments of Pixabay.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or additional insights about how to use visual art on Twitter.