There's no arguing that Facebook occupies the top spot of social media platforms, garnering 71 percent of adult online users according to Pew Internet's latest numbers. In that same report at the end of 2013, Twitter occupied fourth place among adult usage behind LinkedIn and Pinterest engaging 18 percent of adults online. But while Facebook seems to be moving towards a pay-to-play model to allow brands to reach their fans, Twitter is rolling out some free engagement tools that are allowing brands to take up more real estate and add specific lead acquisition tools to their channel. Last week we saw the addition of photo tagging and the ability to add up to four photos to one tweet. That feature is starting with iPhones and rolling out to Android and web. But the most promising of their recent tools is Twitter Cards.
For those not familiar with Twitter Cards, they are a group of tweet add-ons, if you will, that allow brands to embed some code in a website page that adds a media-rich specific call to action when links from that page are used in a tweet. Twitter started the feature with three cards and has now expanded to seven including a card that allows users to directly download your mobile app right from a tweet. Much like their new photo tagging feature, a card is excluded from your 140 character usage. Here's an example of what a Summary Card (default card) looks like on both the web and on mobile:
There are currently seven types of cards described here on the Twitter developer's blog:
- Summary Card: Default Card, including a title, description, thumbnail, and Twitter account attribution.
- Summary Card with Large Image: Similar to a Summary Card, but offers the ability to prominently feature an image.
- Photo Card: A Tweet sized photo Card.
- Gallery Card: A Tweet Card geared toward highlighting a collection of photos.
- App Card: A Tweet Card for providing a profile of an application.
- Player Card: A Tweet sized video/audio/media player Card.
- Product Card: A Tweet Card to better represent product content.
You can click on each type of card above to get a general summary of what each can include.
Setting up Twitter cards on your website will require four steps including running a validation process against the URL you want to use. Also, cards are accompanied by a specific set of metrics that are described here. Twitter has also set up a forum for developers using the cards. From the looks of the discussions, there can be some glitches to work through. But web people should be able to navigate the course as they would with any new online integration tool.
The most exciting of the seven cards is the Product Card. See an example below.
The possibilities here for driving retail sales directly from Twitter are exciting. You don't have to stretch your imagination very far to envision the uses for Twitter cards. Links to event ticket sites, merchandise sales, showcasing videos, promoting news stories, assembling a photo gallery that tells a story-the list is pretty endless.
Twitter Cards can be a good mix of offering valuable information to your fans (Youtility, right Jay Baer?) and linking to products and services. I wouldn't suggest using them on every tweet, but they may be worth a test drive in your tweet mix. Just remember that Twitter Cards are not a license to use Twitter as a dedicated sales channel. You'll still have to honor your audience's expectations of how often you are going to promote a product or service. Maybe an A/B run to see how they stack up against regular tweets? I haven't found any case studies yet on Twitter Cards, but Forbes published a comprehensive guide on how to use them earlier in March here. I'm interested to see if and how anyone is using them. If you've tried them out, would you share your experience in the comments? Or maybe let us know what you would use them for?