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Over the last few months, Twitter has launched several new tools to help make the traditionally text-based social network a more visually engaging medium. To help you make sense of these updates, we’ve got the skinny on how to use these features to turn 140 characters into sales.

Twitter Product Cards

Back in 2012, Twitter introduced Twitter Cards. By placing a small amount of HTML into your webpage, any Tweet containing a link to your site opens to a visually engaging card that reveals a snippet full of rich content about your page. This means you can place things like images and meta-style descriptions from your website without wasting any of those precious 140 characters.

With the announcement of Product Cards last April, things got really exciting for e-commerce site owners. In this new Twitter Card, the same “view details” section can now contain a product image, description, price, or other product detail information. And since this information gets pulled from your site on a regular basis, the card automatically updates when you change the price, image, or description. Now, anyone Tweeting a link to one of of your products will also display your card, turning millions of tweets into promotions for products!

Harveys Furniture, a UK company that tested out the cards soon after their launch, saw a 300%  increase in click-through rate when using the product cards. Match this with numerous studies that show richer content (usually images and video) increase interest, retweeting and click through, and you’ve got a pretty powerful new feature. Here’s what they look like:

New Twitter Product Cards 2014

Twitter Product Card with “view details” not expanded

New Twitter Product Cards 2014

Twitter Product Card with “view details” expanded. Look at all of that information!

Need help setting up Twitter product cards on your Bigcommerce site? Check out our Twitter card guide in the Knowledgebase.

Tweeting with Images and Videos

In October of last year, you may have noticed another change to your Twitter feed. Images and videos started showing up amongst the sea of text. These auto-expanded media posts are not only fun and engaging, but Hubspot found that they improved their lead generation by 55%. So how do you get your images to auto-expand in your customers’ feeds? Any image uploaded using the pic.twitter service should auto-expand. If you’re uploading from the Twitter mobile apps or on twitter.com you should be good. If you use a third-party tool, check to see if they host your images or if they upload them through pic.twitter.

My favorite, the Buffer browser extension, allows you to post any image on the web straight to a fully expanded image to Twitter. They also have a great breakdown on how expanded images in tweets increased their clicks by 18%, their favorites by 89%, and their Retweets by 150%!

For the best image appearance, make sure your images are in a 2:1 ratio, twice as wide as they are tall. Taking into account the new Twitter profile pages, we found that 600 pixels by 300 pixels is a good minimum size to make sure your images are optimized for your customers’ feeds and your profile.

Be sure you ease into expanded images. When Twitter first released this feature, a lot of users weren’t crazy about their feeds getting cluttered with images and videos. The best practice here would be to start with an image tweet once or twice a week. Track your engagement levels, and if you get more Twitter love, then look into posting more frequently. If you notice your levels drop off, you might want to post expanded images less frequently. It’s all about how your customers react.

New Twitter Images 2014

Amongst a sea of text, images and videos really stand out.

The New Twitter Profile

At the end of April, Twitter started pushing out new profile layouts. In addition to bolder header images, you now have more control over how you showcase your Tweets. Your best performing, most engaging Tweets are now larger, making them easier to find. To help you spotlight a Tweet, you can now “pin” a Tweet to the top of your profile. You can also choose which filtered Tweets customers see when they view your profile: Tweets, Tweets with photos/videos, or Tweets and replies. The Buffer blog has some great tips on how to optimize your new profile, including picking the right header image, choosing a Tweet to pin that drives an emotion, and how to use favoriting more effectively.

New Twitter Profile 2014

Twitter Card Analytics

You’ve set up Twitter Product Cards, you’re posting engaging expanded images, and your new profile page is breathtaking. To make sure you’re tracking your engagement, the new analytics for Twitter Cards not only helps you see how your cards are performing, it gives you insight into how Twitter users are engaging with all of your Tweets, and offers a closer look at how your following is growing. That’s everything you need to make more strategic choices about what and when you Tweet.

That’s a lot to take in, we know. So here’s a fun infographic from HootSuite with some Dr. Seuss inspired best practices for Twitter. A “little birdie” told us you might enjoy it.

Photo by mkhmarketing

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  • Thanks for the heads up!

  • And sometimes “quote” marks in the description copy itself makes the same thing happen.

  • We have found that if your product decription has “quote” marks in it anywhere. (ie; 1.5″ as in a measurement or other…) the twitter code will conflict with the product description and display the description twice from just after where the ” mark appeared AND the description will not show up on your twitter card. So you will need to remove any ” quote marks from your description text.

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