In celebration of Twitter’s IPO, I recently put together the following POV on the new visual Twitter experience outlining what changed, potential impact for programs as well as best practices directly from the Twitter team.
When: This update was rolled out to the public on October 29th, 2013
What: Images, Videos & Vines in users Twitter feed for both web client & mobile apps are now auto expanded (contingent on users updating their iOS & Android apps to the latest update version of the Twitter app).
Why: Twitter wants to make the service a more visual experience heading into their IPO. One of the core goals of Twitter is mainstream adoption and user growth. In Q3 their user growth rate declined slightly so the goal is to make the product more approachable by incorporating a more visual feel to the timeline similar to Facebook & Tumblr.
Impact: Previously, a user would need to click on a link to see the preview of the image or video. Now, the user will see a preview of the image and have the ability to zoom in or watch the clip in stream. The visual redesign has also streamlined the ability to replay, retweet or favorite a tweet without leaving the timeline as before.
Currently there is no way for a user to turn off the visual previews via the web. However, users can opt to turn off the visual option in the mobile application via settings. Based on past behavior though, this extra step may not be taken by a majority of users.
From a metric standpoint, this change may have an impact on the total interactions per tweet as prior to the update users would need to click on the link to preview an image and that would count as an interaction.
Thus interactions via the tweet may go down, but providing more visual content directly in the stream may impact overall engagement in a more positive way as the visual content will stand out from the traditional text based tweets.
Final notes: The new visual Twitter update still does not support animated GIF’s and there is currently no filter or blocking functionality for the individual user. Also, Instagram and other services are currently still represented as links vs. auto expanded.
Note this example highlighting Instagram as a link & images uploaded to Twitter as expanded
Recommendation: The new best practice associated with image posting per Twitter renders at 440 x 220 and uploaded via pic.twitter.com in order to be auto-expanded.
Here is additional info that I just received from Twitter RE: Image pixel size and file size:
The longer side of your photo should be 1024 pixels and the shorter side should be proportionately fewer pixels. This applies to horizontal, square, and vertical photos with any aspect ratio. For example, a horizontal photo with a 4×3 aspect ratio should be sized 1024 x 768 pixels. A square photo should be 1024 x 1024 pixels
Photo file size limit is 3MB
To show your entire image in the Tweet preview:
Use an image in horizontal/landscape orientation with a 2:1 aspect ratio (e.g. 1024 x 512 pixels)
If you do this, the preview image will be the same as the image shown when the Tweet is expanded and/or when the photo is fully revealed.
Currently, there are no text restrictions on the images, so there is an opportunity to maximize the real-estate of images. One key point of consideration is that mobile users still need to update their Twitter app to get this feature so that is still a barrier to removing legal copy from photos as only 6% of Twitter users use the web client. Also note that Twitter has been very strict with 3rd parties who use their API, so at some point this update will push through that ecosystem as well.
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