Practical Ecommerce

Twitter Redesign: Photos and Vine Video

Twitter recently made a substantial design change by showcasing previews of photos and the first frame of Vine videos in user timelines. Previously, users had to click a link to see such imagery.

Twitter timeline photos

Twitter now automatically shows photos in user timelines.

The new feature appears on Twitter’s mobile apps for iPhone and Android, as well as on Twitter.com. The change applies only to Vine videos and pictures uploaded to Twitter.

Reasons for the Change

  • Adopt a more visual web. One reason for the redesign may be to accommodate the shift to a more visual web popularized by Pinterest and Instagram. This move by Twitter follows similar design changes by Facebook, which now displays larger versions of photos in Timelines. By some accounts, photos now make up 93 percent of the most engaging post types on Facebook. Therefore, it stands to reason Twitter would want to follow suit.
  • Encourage deeper interaction. Twitter is more of a news and information network and less a social network. This change appears to be an effort on Twitter’s part to redefine itself and foster deeper engagement. In fact, a blog post from Twitter indicated the reason was to make the service “more visual and more engaging.” To further emphasize interaction, “reply,” “retweet” and “favorite” buttons now reside directly beneath every tweet.
Twitter buttons shown below all tweets

Twitter engagement buttons now appear below all tweets.

  • Sell more advertising. Users may be more inclined to click on ads that contain photos. Twitter sells advertising primarily through the use of Promoted Tweets and only gets paid when a user clicks on an ad. Perhaps the company hopes more clicks will result from ads that contain images.

Benefits to Ecommerce

Here are six tips for making the most of timeline photos and Vine videos.

  • Use the new feature sparingly. Many Twitter users have expressed dissatisfaction with the new feature, citing a preference to make it optional, giving users the ability to toggle images on or off. With that in mind, it makes sense not to use photos with every tweet, as that could lead to unfollows.
  • Ensure images are timely and relevant. Twitter is a real-time network, and users expect information to be relevant and up to the minute. Since one of the major reasons people follow retailers on Twitter is to gain access to exclusive deals and special offers, using photos with such tweets should help garner extra attention.
  • Don’t make photos too promotional. Refrain from superimposing calls to action over images, as they may appear to be overtly promotional, something social media users tend not to favor.
  • Properly crop photos to fit Twitter’s dimensions. Twitter will resize images to fit certain dimensions in timeline previews. As such, retailers may need to experiment with and crop photos to ensure they render properly. Though Twitter has not posted documentation citing specific sizes, they appear to be roughly 437 pixels wide by 219 pixels high. Users can click on the preview to view the entire image.
Twitter photo dimensions

Twitter resizes images to fit preview dimensions.

Image in timeline preview

Image from retailer Target shown in timeline preview.

Image in expanded view

The same image shown in expanded view.

  • Use high-quality imagery. Thanks to retina and high-definition displays on tablets and smartphones, screen resolutions are higher than they used to be. Plus, the prevalence of broadband and high-speed wireless makes download speeds many times faster. Therefore, use higher resolution images to ensure photos are of the best possible quality. Read “10 Ways to Improve Product Images” to learn more.
  • Incorporate Vine videos. Video can add extra life to a merchant’s Twitter timeline. Due to their six-second length, Vine videos are a useful complement to the succinct 140-character nature of the social network. Merchants can use Vine to introduce new products, showcase products in use, create contests and take Twitter users on behind the scenes tours.
Paul Chaney
Paul Chaney
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