Twitter Gets Visual – 3 Image Mistakes You Are Making on Twitter

Twitter is now all about Images.


The platform that shares content in 140 characters or less is promoting images in the newsfeed.  

Strike one more “win” for the visual web.  

In this post we look at what is happening with images and photos on Twitter, and some recent stats and tips that will have you rethinking how you think about using images in your social media marketing.

The visual web is here. We love images. We share images. They get more engagement. And not surprisingly, when we think of social media in terms of the visual web – we think of platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram as being visual  – but not the more text based platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn.

This will change how you think about visuals. Because I am here to tell you that the visual web does not just apply to Pinterest and Instagram. It applies to all platforms.

I posted about LinkedIn being visual recently. Now it's time to focus on the “visual” aspects of Twitter.

Let's take a look at 2 reasons why it is time to change your view – and 3 mistakes many marketers are making with images on Twitter

2 Reasons to Take Images Seriously on Twitter:


#1 – Twitter Now Shows Images by Default

When I first wrote this post in 2013, Twitter had recently started featuring images by default on their newsfeed.  Now in 2014, we have the wonderful addition of Twitter Cards.  You can also read about how they work here.   Previously you needed to click on the image to make it show.  Now it shows immediately – and with even more expanded information, should you be using Twitter Cards.

This is huge for getting your tweets noticed as many people are still not uploading images or showcasing them.

In finding images originally for this post, I was surprised at how many times I had to hit scroll to find images – so as much as they are standing out on the feed….their potential is still catching on. Put simply, it's time to start adding images now because it's a great time to stand out on Twitter!

Here are some examples of how images are being shown by default on the Twitter newsfeed:

BT Sport are using Twitter Images effectively
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BT Sport are using Twitter Images effectively
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Images are showing up by default on the Twitter – standing amongst the text-based Tweets.

It's not surprising that Brands are already starting to take advantage of the visual nature of Twitter:

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B Sport are already mainly posting images – this one encourages user engagement in a “caption this” game…bringing Twitter back to what it does best – encourage conversation.

and here is the expanded view of the image:

BT Sport Twitter Image - Expanded
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BT Sport Twitter Image - Expanded
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If you click the image you get this expanded view – the image shown by default is taken from the mid-section of the image – so it's worth thinking about image composition!

HubSpot are already using Twitter images to promote their content visually:

By including a simple image of the content they are promoting, HubSpot immediately stand out on Twitter
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By including a simple image of the content they are promoting, HubSpot immediately stand out on Twitter
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By including a simple image of the content they are promoting, HubSpot immediately stand out on Twitter amongst a sea of text-based Tweets.


#2  Tweets with Images uploaded to Twitter are nearly twice as likely to be ReTweeted

Here's the deal.  Twitter is twice as visual as you think!  Huh? Stay with me.  Let's look at the recent stats revealed by Dan Zarella.  Dan produced this awesomely simple and powerful infographic which, in summary stated that from a sample size of 482,262 Tweets:

  • Tweets using are 94% more likely to get ReTweeted
  • Tweets using Instagram Links are 42% less likely to get ReTweeted
  • Tweets using TwitPic Links are 64% more likely to get ReTweeted
  • Tweets using FB Image Links are 47% less likely to get ReTweeted

and Overall:

Tweets with images uploaded to were nearly twice as likely to be retweeted while the use of Twitpic increased the odds by just over 60%.  This means that if you upload images directly into Twitter using their native “image” uploader you are almost twice as likely to get ReTweeted

Now before I continue, please know that Dan is the man when it comes to the science of marketing. His stats come with confidence interval ratings (remember those from school?).

When Dan Zarella says that the information above has a 99% confidence interval rating, please listen to him, because it means that his results are on the money. And if you remember just one stat, make it this one:

Tweets with images uploaded to were nearly twice as likely to be retweeted

Yep!  Twice as likely to be shared….do you get what I am saying?   I too have previously posted about the importance of images on Twitter, but I think it's worth repeating.

So, let's look at the 3 mistakes you are all making, taking into account Dan's research:

3 Image Mistakes
Mistake #1

You are sharing images across form Instagram and not uploading them as Twitter Pics.   Remember the stat above – Tweets Including Instagram Links are 42% less likely to be ReTweeted?

How can you get around this?  I wrote about a sneaky workaround that can help you get past the stand-off that is happening between Twitter and Instagram.  You can read about it here. It is a simple hack that you can put in place to ensure that your images appear.   I've tested it with the new image format. It still works.

You can also click on the image below to read the post and my secret weapon for getting Instagram photos seen on Twitter:

Mistake #2

You are not Repurposing your images from elsewhere and uploading them to Twitter.  

As Dan pointed out, images uploaded to the native Twitter platform ( get the best shares but TwitPic also does well.  I say, just upload some images – try it out – see what works and start to include 1 or 2 Tweets per day that are image-based!

Think of how you can repurpose some of your old content or content from other platforms:

  • Try posting up some of your square or 400x 600 portrait images to Twitter.
  • Got some old photos or images that did well on Facebook? Upload it to Twitter!
  • Got some blog photos that you created that have just been used mainly in your blog post?  Upload it separately to Twitter with a link to your blog.

The possibilities are endless…

Mistake #3

You are linking your images across from Facebook.  

Look, I must admit I don't really have an issue with sharing your Facebook posts across to Twitter – IF you are just getting started out on Twitter and just starting to get a basic presence, finding your feet etc etc.

But after that, as you build your following and you are getting active on Twitter, you really should drop it.  My own experience has been that people get annoyed if they have to click away from Twitter to read a post on another social platform (unless it is a blog post).  So it makes sense to post using a scheduling tool and post live in Twitter…but eventually, I think, give the Facebook link the flick.

And if you need more encouragement to ditch it – then remember what Dan said:  Tweets including Facebook links are 47% less likely to be ReTweeted.

Want an awesome overview of Images on Twitter?  Buffer have posted a great article explaining some of the stats above, as well as their own research into the use of Twitter. Click here or on the image below to read the article. There are also some great tips in there for how to leverage the power of images on Twitter now that they are being shown innately in the newsfeed:

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Buffer found that overall, Tweets with images get more Clicks, Retweets and Favourites.

With all of the research and evidence pointing in one direction, it's clear that images are going to become a big part of Twitter, just as they are across social media platforms on the “visual web”.

Over to you. Are you going to start getting a little “visual” on Twitter?  Where do you think you will start?  

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Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is a Visual Content Strategist and founder of Socially Sorted, listed by Forbes as a "Top 5 Social Media Blog You Need to Know About". Donna helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Inc. & Entrepreneur and she is a speaker and trainer on visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.

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