New Twitter image previews in feeds: a beginners tutorial

Twitter has been making quite a few changes to its web platform and mobile apps recently. If you’re a bit of a business and web geek like me, then you’ll know it’s all because of their proposed IPO.

In light of this manoeuvre, it makes perfect sense that the social media giant wants to make the platform more commercially attractive, especially since it takes quite a stretch of the imagination to consider the company at all profitable.

Is Twitter the new Facebook?

But the change that’s interested me the most has been the addition of image previews to the feed. I think Twitter are playing a dangerous game with this update – it instantly upset many Tweeps – although personally I consider it an improvement, for now…

We can all see where this is heading – advertisers will now be able to pay to shove banner ads under everybody’s noses. Promoted tweets on Twitter were annoying enough before. It doesn’t take an enormous stretch of the imagination to see this move backfiring and prompting users to leave.

All is not lost, however. If it really does bother you, it is possible to switch off image previews on Twitter mobile apps, and it’s even possible to block them on the website too, using AdBlock.

Grab the opportunity while you can

This change brings benefits to people like me who represent brands on Twitter. Adding images to your tweets now makes them stand out from the rest of the feed when set against a background of what’s currently still mostly text-based updates.

We already know that on Facebook posts that include images get more clicks, so it seems reasonable to expect a similar outcome on Twitter. And we won’t know until we try, right?

If you’re quick to act, you can improve engagement with your tweets before everyone else starts doing the same thing. For one thing, getting into the habit of adding appropriate (and correctly licensed) images to your tweets is worthwhile. As a slight aside, making sure your website correctly implements Twitter Cards is also highly recommended.

Do you use Instagram to promote your brand?

If so, you probably noticed last year that previews for Instagram images were no longer appearing in tweets. All that was left behind was just a boring URL that forced you to click through to Instagram itself to view the image.

Pretty much all the images attached to my personal Twitter account were fed in via Instagram. My profile was stripped bare overnight. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

The decision to remove image previews was taken by Instagram because they wanted to drive more traffic to their own website. Evidently they felt that image previews were standing in the way of this cause. Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook a couple of months prior may have also had something to do with it.

Resurrect Instagram image previews

IFTTT: If Instagram then Twitter

But as long as we have the web, we have a way. If you’ve heard of If This, Then That (IFTTT, pronounced to rhyme with ‘gift’) then you’ll probably already know there’s a workaround to this problem.

If not, I recommend reading this straightforward guide to embedding Instagram images in your Twitter feed. You’ll need to have a Tumblr account too, but the whole process is easy to do and doesn’t take long.

As always, feel free to give us a shout if you need help with this, or any other aspect of website social media integration.