Last October Twitter made one of the biggest changes to it’s service. After years of being a text only service they allowed images to appear in the stream.
At first I was concerned that it would slow the load time of the app. Luckily this doesn’t seemed to have happened. I was also worried that we’d see a flood of Facebook style memes but it seems the people I follow don’t share many of those either. In general it has made the Twitter experience better. I used to have to click to see a photo. You might not think this is a big deal you might think but psychologically I was making a commitment by clicking.
Now the images slow me down, as I scroll through my feed the photos catch my eye and attract me to specific tweets. They have become a hugely powerful part of what Twitter is.
In this post I’ll look at images on Twitter, when we should share them, what size they should be and we’ll look at some examples of what I think works well.
When to share an image
Photos have power but only when they are good. If you are thinking of putting a text quote on a blank background and sharing it stop now. You are just creating a tweet in a really long winded way. A good image on Twitter should be enough to slow down someone scrolling through the stream and at best make them click either to see more of the photo or the link that accompanies it.
1. Images with links
If you have written a blog post or article try sharing a strong image with it. This should be an attention grabbing picture. Take a look at this one from Lifehacker. It’s colourful, it catches the eye and the text really makes me want to click the link to find out the solution.
2. Share a moment from your day
When we follow brands on Twitter we often forget there are humans behind the logos. If you have to use your branding for your avatar you can still show your personality and images can be a great way to do this. I love this picture from Designist, it shows me a bit of the personality behind the logo.
Conferences are great places to meet new people and connect with people on Twitter. I’ve met lots of business contacts after tweeting with them at conferences. I’m never at a loss for someone to have coffee with.
It’s a good idea to share relevant snippets of information that you pick up at conferences with your followers but now we can share pictures from the day too. If you are doing this think about how you can make your photo unique. Don’t let your image get lost in a sea of similar images from other attendees. Can you get an angle that no one else can? Perhaps it’s the food, an interesting installation or a selfie with one of the speakers. As we have learnt from Ellen at the Oscars, a selfie taken at the right time and place can be hugely popular.
Eye catching images will stand out in the search results from the conference hash tags and people will begin to recognise your name before you even tweet them.
This image from Documentally seemed to be shared from a post conference dinner.
4. Because you just took a great photograph
If you are somewhere beautiful or if you just nailed it and happened to get a great shot share it. It’s not always going to be appropriate for your business but like the ice cream shot above it’s a good way to let people know there is a person behind the brand.
5. To demonstrate a point
I saw the photograph below in my Twitter stream today. Initially I was expecting a link to accompany it but it really isn’t neccessary. This is an example of when a picture really does tell a thousand words.
What size should your image be?
If you want your picture to show in full in the Twitter stream you need to create an image that has a 2:1 ratio. That means it should be twice as long as it is deep. The optimum size for an image you upload to Twitter is 1024×512 pixels. It displays as 440×220 pixels in the feed. You can use PicMonkey (affiliate link) to scale your images to the right size or create images that are the right size.
If you upload an image that doesn’t fit the ratio it will be cropped in the feed. Twitter will still show the full picture when someone expands the tweet or clicks on it.
Take a look at this image shared by Monster Energy. The image that displays in the feed gives no hint of what is really happening in the photo.
How does Twitter choose what part of the image to show
If you have an image that doesn’t fit the correct ratio Twitter crops it in the feed. We don’t really know exactly how Twitter chooses what part of your image to show, there is no obvious trait. Sometimes Twitter will show the bottom, sometimes the middle sometimes the top of an image. It is thought that Twitter chooses the most interesting part of the image. As we can see from the example above it doesn’t always get this right.
Sharing from Instagram
There are a few reasons why sharing from Instagram doesn’t work well on Twitter
1. You have to leave the Twitter website to view the Instagram photo. This is prohibitive particularly for mobile users who may not have a strong wifi or 3G signal.
2. We tend to add loads of hashtags to our Instagram photos. This doesn’t work well on Twitter. Autoshares from Instagram tend to look like an unreadable list of tags and don’t inspire a click through.
If you want to share your Instagram photos on Twitter there is a work around that will share your image in the feed.
Using IFTTT create a recipe that will share your picture as a Twitpic on Twitter every time you share an image on Instagram with a specific hashtag. Viewable in the stream. If you use this recipe make sure that you are including Twitter friendly text in the description.
Are you using images as part of your Twitter strategy? What sort of photos are working best for you? Do you find they result in more clicks to your blog posts or RT’s. I’d love to hear your experiences. Leave me a comment below.
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