Twitter announced its biggest interface change since 2011. Michael Sippey, Twitter’s Vice President for Product, announced that “timelines on Twitter will be more visual and more engaging: previews of Twitter photos and videos from Vine will be front and center in tweets.”
While Twitter has largely resisted tweaking the timeline in an effort to keep its appearance as streamlined as possible, users were beginning to get the impression that Twitter’s text-heavy appearance was behind the times because of its lack of multimedia.
And with Twitter making headlines with its big IPO announcement, this change helps Twitter compete with its image and video-friendly competitors, such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, while giving it the potential to sell more ads with visual elements—providing advertisers the opportunity to get their content seen by users.
The Power of Visual Content
Industry research shows that users are far more likely to click on an ad with a photo in it. In fact, tweets with photos have already begun to show dramatic increases in clicks, retweets, favorites and visits with an astounding 55% increase in leads according to a recent HubSpot study, proving the power of visual content. This type of interaction may help Twitter more deeply engage users, which is important to its long-term growth. And it allows users to perform some of the same actions that helped Twitter’s competitors grow so quickly.
While only Twitter photos and Vine videos are currently available in preview form, Twitter could add automatic previews of other types of links, such as images and articles from webpages and videos from YouTube, if a positive response is heard from users. The company is also currently experimenting with ways to highlight other types of messages, particularly those about television shows—creating an interactive television experience.
Effectively Using Images in Twitter
Images on Twitter need to be optimized differently than they would be on Facebook or Instagram. Instead of the square format, images need to be uploaded with a 2:1 ratio starting around 438×219 pixels for standard resolution.
Along with the image previews, Twitter has made it easier to reply, retweet or favorite a tweet without leaving the timeline. You can now simply tap to perform these operations right inside the tweets you see in your timeline. The Twitter blog features a video of how this works.
What this change means for marketers
Twitter images are a huge opportunity for marketers to increase engagement with their followers. Now, marketers tweet images (such as photos from events, images from blog posts, etc.) to create even more compelling tweets and catch the eye of their followers. However, currently marketers that use third party platforms to schedule tweets will need to upload photos in real time in order to take advantage of this feature. For example, third party platforms like Hootsuite will not allow photos to be scheduled in advance for Twitter—but we anticipate this feature will be added in the near future.
This also opens the door for much more creative advertising on Twitter. As they say, pictures are worth a thousand words, and with only 140 characters, images can make a big difference with getting clicks on advertisements in Twitter moving forward.
Effectively using images in your social media marketing is a quick way to express your brand’s story, particularly when characters are limited. In what other ways can Twitter’s implementation of image previews benefit your brand?
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