nature photographer

Since Twitter added the ability to see image previews in tweets, users have been pushing more and more visual content. However, to be successful with the photos you share on Twitter, it’s important not to add unnecessary images just to try to push better engagement. Visuals should be a considered part of your Twitter strategy, not merely an afterthought.

Not all images are created equal. To have the most impact, and to successfully generate more traffic, a photo in a tweet should complement the rest of your brand’s attitude and strategy. Here are four photo-focused tweets that your company can learn from.

1. Be Timely

Mars Rover tweet photo
The crew at NASA has always done a stellar job with its social media material, and the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars opened an opportunity to spark new interest in space exploration. The @MarsCuriosity Twitter account gives us a look at the Red Planet, sharing updates on the rover’s condition and the images it captures from Mars’ surface.

This image was especially striking for the clever caption. After the self-portrait term “selfie” was deemed word of the year by the Oxford Dictionary, the Mars rover team weighed in on the choice with this photo. The sassy text referencing the timely event elevates a typical photo of the rover to a viral phenomenon.

Combining smart, personable text with unique images is a great way to energize your Twitter audience. If you can find a way to make it timely, that will make you stand out even more. Be creative and tasteful in how you discuss current events, and you may find a positive fan response.

2. Be Artistic

Microsoft tweet image

The key to a successful image is to put some craft into its creation. Tacking a blurry photo or a mediocre illustration on to your tweet will deter fans from sharing. Spend enough time to get the right visual for the task and make it unique.

On the launch of the new Xbox One console, Microsoft tweeted a photo of a building with the green logo projected on it. Using a corner building with a very classic architectural style, the futuristic projection creates a compelling contrast. Plus, the artist snapped the photo on a cloudy night, making the green pop. Hundreds of people favorited and shared the image.

Whatever the subject of your image, make sure that you execute the piece well. Consider key art principles such as composition, lighting, and color to create a bigger impact on the viewer. Composition is particularly important since the preview of any photo on Twitter focuses on the middle of a horizontal rectangle. The most important element of the photo — the illuminated building in this case — should be visible in that preview screen.

3. Give Your Fans What They Want

Adam Savage tweet photo

As a host for the popular television show “Mythbusters,” Adam Savage has a large Twitter fan base. He has posted many photos from a tour with co-host Jamie Hyneman, and started a tradition of snapping a shot of the audience at every city on their travels. Many of them, including this one of fans holding up their phones, have generated impressive traffic on Twitter.

The view of the television personality so close to everyday fans is an appealing sight. It makes the usually removed person on screen feel real and accessible to the viewers. Since the “Behind the Myths” tour is a way for fans to get a closer look into both the show’s hosts and their work in science and engineering, the creative use of images has been a great way to engage the broader community.

Knowing what your audience values most is an important first step to creating an effective dialogue in social media. When you can deliver that value in a highly shareable format, it’s more likely to benefit both parties.

4. Share Good News Visually

Taylor Swift tweet photo

Sometimes, a photo speaks in a way that text cannot. Create some excitement in your Twitter feed by sharing news, especially good news, in a visual format. For example, pop star Taylor Swift shared the cover of New York Magazine, which dubbed her the biggest pop star in the world in a recent issue. Tens of thousands of her followers favorited and retweeted the post.

Part of the success here is the size of Swift’s existing fan base, but you can still aim for proportional success with a Twitter following of any size. When you have an image that captures a positive development for your brand, share it.

The important thing to keep in mind is that when the photo speaks for itself, you don’t need to go overboard with additional text. In fact, the only other content Swift included in this tweet was a bunch of exclamation points. Her tweet would have been less impactful if she’d repeated the headline. Make sure your text and image complement each other in every tweet.

Know any other brands using images effectively on Twitter? Let us know in the comments below.

[Image credit: Danel Solabarrieta]