It’s no surprise that putting visual content front and center on Twitter pays off. Plenty of studies have shown that images with tweets get more clicks. Tweets with images drive substantial engagement. So how can you ensure that people will interact with your tweets? Whether you’re seeking conversations or promoting a product or service, include a visual when relevant.
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) January 15, 2014
Photos have become the stars of Twitter thanks to a few small tweaks and adjustments. For example, a minor change to embedded tweets put images front and center by displaying them above the text. Previously images came secondary by appearing below the actual tweet.
Although the update didn’t get much fanfare, it has great potential for publishers who rely on sharing tweets with readers by embedding them in articles. By putting compelling images ahead of the text, you’re more likely to draw attention and, as a result, engagement.
Inline Image Previews
In October, Twitter added inline video and image previews to mobile timelines, as well as timelines on the web. This created a much richer multimedia experience for members scrolling through their feeds. Previously, people had to click on a link to view an image or video that was attached to a tweet. Now they appear automatically.
Perhaps unintentional, image previews also benefited advertisers running Promoted Tweets with images. As a result of the update, the traditionally text-only ad unit now sports a full preview of the image associated with the tweet giving it a much-needed visual element. This could certainly help draw attention to Promoted Tweet campaigns.
Keep in mind that this functionality is currently limited to Twitter photos and Vine videos. Although it’s possible that other formats will be included in the future, for now it’s worth uploading visual content through the platform directly rather than tweeting a link to another service.
Optimize Images for Twitter
You’ll also want to make sure that the images you use are optimized for Twitter. When you upload an image through the service, Twitter automatically crops a section of it and displays it as a 440×220 pixel preview. The downside is that this process is done intelligently, meaning that Twitter looks for a dominant visual element. If it’s unable to find one, it tends to crop the middle of the picture instead.
In his infographic, Bob Watling highlights several tips for individuals uploading images to Twitter. For example, cluster your strongest visuals. If all your dominant visuals (such as faces and high contrast objects) are in one area, Twitter will likely crop that section. The company also recommends using a 1024×512 pixel size for uploaded images. And don’t forget to text your images before you tweet them through a separate test account.
Last, but not least, remember that photos are searchable on Twitter. Individuals now have the option to search for only pictures, videos, or news stories. Previously search was limited to usernames or entire tweets. With a stronger focus on media, it’s hard to know just when or where your uploaded images will show up on Twitter. Make sure that they look their best when they do.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.