November 28, 2014

11 Tips for Using Images on Twitter

Twitter header template

If you are one of those people who only uses Twitter via a tool such as Hootsuite, you may have missed all the image-related improvements made on Twitter in recent months.  Twitter profiles have changed their look and you can now tweet images directly.

In short, the site is now much more visual.  Here are 11 tips for Using Images on Twitter:

1) Take Advantage of the Larger Header Image on Your Profile

Twitter, like other social networks such as Google+, now gives you the ability to add a larger header image. This feature has been gradually phased in, and if you haven’t switched over yet from the old-style header, log on to Twitter. You will see a message to switch to the new profile look.

The new 2014 Twitter header size offers a lot of real estate so make the most of it.  A size of 1500 pixels wide by 500 pixels tall is recommended by Twitter.  However, you don’t need to make your header image that tall. Pauline Cabrera of TwelveSkip suggests that an image of 1500 x 421 works well.  In fact, as she points out, on a mobile device not all of the header will be visible so you will want to use the header template she’s created. Above is her Twitter header, showing a creative approach for a solopreneur.

Some businesses simply go with their logo or even mimic their website’s header for the Twitter header. Or, like Social Media Insider, you could include an interesting quote.  Or perhaps you prefer something like Groupon’s header, that looks like a banner conveying what the business does.

Another approach is super simple, but effective: Use a solid color header that harmonizes with your logo colors, and use your logo as your profile picture (the smaller square image).

Whatever you choose, make it consistent with your brand.

2) Humanize Your Profile

Just because you run a business doesn’t mean you need to scrub out all references to individual people.  If you are like Sage North America, you might want to humanize it with images of customers or people:

using images on twitter

Or do the opposite, and put your company on the header, and use your personal photograph for the square profile picture.

Another approach is to express yourself.  If you are dressing up your individual profile or you run a sole proprietor business, you tend to have more leeway.  Go over to a site like TwitterCovers and download one of the fun or artistic header images you find there.

3) Share Images Directly to Twitter

If you haven’t tried sharing images to Twitter, it’s very simple. Simply click on the little camera icon below the Twitter update box. You can upload images directly on the site itself or you can use a third party app like Hootsuite to do this (use their pic.twitter feature if you have a Pro account) — and the benefit comes from the image appearing directly.

We are finding that image tweets get double the interaction of a standard link tweet. Here’s how it looks in your feed – as you can see, images definitely are eye catching and engage people more!

using images on twitter

4) Put Words on Your Images to Convey Meaning at a Glance

Overlay words on your image before you share it.  A caption or even the title of an article that the image relates to, can be useful.

Factoids and motivational quotes on images do well for a business audience.  Here’s an example of one of the Small Business Trends daily motivational tips superimposed on an image:

using images on twitter

5) Tweet a Video

Tweeting a video is similar to sharing an image.  It works great with YouTube videos.  Just insert a YouTube link into the Twitter update box, and it embeds the video into the twitter stream.

Now here’s how to hit it out of the ballpark when it comes to video:  Give your customers and followers shout-outs via video. That’s what Nextiva does whenever a customer gives them an “atta boy.” An employee of Nextiva records a short thank you:

video-shout-out-on-Twitter

6) Bright Colors in Images Get Attention

Use warm bright colors as much as possible for images you share.  Below is a colorful image from an article.  Instead of just sharing the article link, I shared the image from it also.  Notice how it stands out?

using images on twitter

7) Horizontal Images Are Best

Not only are horizontal images best for Twitter, but they are going to work best on many social sites such as Facebook.

Long vertical images get cut off in certain views, or they are difficult to see if fully expanded.

That can especially be a problem with infographics, which often are very, very long.  The next time you create an infographic, keep it short to optimize it for sharing.  Otherwise it will look like a pencil:

using images on twitter

8) Tag People or Companies in Images

When you share an image such as a product image, include the company’s Twitter handle in the tweet. That way you will get their attention.

If it is a positive tweet, they will be delighted to see it, and may retweet it. That’s how I got retweeted by Cover Girl, for the beauty blog that I run.

using images on twitter

 9) Share Selfies

Are you into taking selfies of yourself?  The selfie image has become an institution on Instagram.  And now they are possible on Twitter.  Selfies can be used (sparingly) to add a human element to your tweets.

Just keep in mind that you must upload the selfie directly to Twitter.  If you try to share an Instagram selfie, it just appears as a link tweet, as the following shows.  The top tweet is an image uploaded directly to Twitter, and the bottom tweet is an Instagram image (which just shows up as a link):

using images on twitter

10) Use Twitter Cards

Twitter cards are expanded information that is included with a tweet.  For example, if you tweet an article from Small Business Trends, it will include a thumbnail image along with an excerpt of an article and the link.

There are now various types of Twitter cards, including ones for products.  You have to set up meta tags on your website to use Twitter cards, but it can be worth it.  This way, every tweet from your website can have a visual in it.

using images on twitter

11) Add Pizzazz to Your Live Tweeting at Events

What better way to share an event you attended with your friends, colleagues and followers?  Help them get a feel for what it was like to be there.

using images on twitter

Editor’s Note: This article was updated to reflect how images can be shared via Hootsuite.

More in: 24 Comments ▼

Amanda Stillwagon


Amanda Stillwagon As Chief Marketer for Small Business Trends, Amanda oversees online marketing, email marketing and social media marketing for the Small Business Trends group of sites.

24 Reactions

  1. Thanks for the tips. I’ve recently switched over to the new Twitter, and these tips will come in very handy, so thanks.

  2. Hi Amanda,

    These are great tips for increasing engagement on Twitter.

    We agree that posting pictures increases engagement. Because of that we released a pic.twitter function that you can use from the HootSuite Dashboard. If you have a Pro account, pictures will show on your followers Twitter Timelines. Have a look at this blog post for more info: http://ow.ly/xmlVZ.

    Thanks for mentioning HootSuite among these tips! Tweet me if you have more questions, @davidwkyle.

    – David from HootSuite

    • Thanks so much for the heads up David. I followed the tip in your linked blog post, changed my settings and now it works! So happy to be able to use Hootsuite for all of my image tweets now too. Thanks again!

  3. Good tip about embedding pics that are mostly horizontal. Once you post them though (at least in TweetDeck) some times they get cut off and other times they get resized. It would be great to know the ideal length and width so that they are not cut off in stream.

    • Hi Brian. Getting the most ideal image size for Twitter can be a bit tricky. I’ve read that it is recommended that photos have a 2:1 aspect ratio meaning that your photo is twice as long as it is tall. The minimum recommended image size is 440X220 so it’s best not to go smaller than that. Twitter actually says the ideal photo should be 1024 wide so that would make the height best at around 512.

      If you are not able to reach the ideal ratio aspect then it’s best to make sure the most important stuff you want seen is at the center of the image. I hope this helps you out a bit.

  4. I really like the bigger images that they have on their statuses. Makes me feel like it’s more like Instagram now. You’re now able to share your life along with images. But I hope they can integrate it well with their apps so that the images will display in the same way in their apps.

  5. Thanks for the great tips. I have recently shifted to this new visually focused twitter layout and it’s really awesome. I have not designed image for my profile header but now i got an idea from this post. I will follow all the points mentioned in this post for better use of images.

  6. Great post. And to make your life easier, there is large collection of ready to use twitter headers. Optimized for new twitter profile layout 1500×500 pixels – http://twitrheaders.com

  7. Loved these suggestions! We’re launching at the end of this summer and just established our twitter profile this week. We used Canva to make our header image — would highly suggest their tool as it’s easy and guarantees that the dimensions are correct.

    Also, Gary V has some good suggestions in a recent slideshare he published pertaining to point #8 made above for tagging people in posts: http://www.slideshare.net/vaynerchuk/slidesharegvtwitter-v4-28507504

  8. Great tips. Just be careful when using images that you did not create yourself. Images, like written materials, are subject to the copyright of the person who created the work. Make sure you have the right to use the image. Publishing an image on Twitter without authorization of the copyright holder can an expensive mistake.

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