Earlier this year Twitter rolled out Twitter Cards, a unique feature that would allow partner websites to present their content on Twitter in a more engaging way.
The service was initially designed to help media organisations preview in their Expanded Tweets content, images and video that they had just published on their websites.
Initially developed for journalists and publishers, this opt-in feature allows sites that offer ‘great content and those that drive active discussion and activity on Twitter‘ to potentially secure increased click-throughs from to their websites their tweets.
For Twitter, the aim was simple, to further position the network as a primary source for real-time news, content and comment.
I have been testing Twitter Cards Expanded Tweets for a few months now, to see if the feature could be used by companies and brands. And if so, if Expanded Tweets could help content creators secure increased engagement from the communities they have around them.
For brands to make the most out of the Expanded Tweets feature they are going to have to seriously look at the content that they create and publish on their websites. Get the tone and voice wrong and you will see no change in the level of interaction – reinforce negative perceptions. Adapt your brand style and how you communicate online and Expanded Tweets could help how your content is seen and shared by influencers on Twitter. To put it in simple terms, brands are going to have to learn how to become publishers.
Here are a few tips to guide you how to use twitter cards for blogging and content marketing.
What is Twitter Cards?
Simply put, Twitter Cards is a facility that enables you to present the content you publish on your website in a more engaging way on Twitter. The feature will:
- Give you control of how your content is displayed on Twitter
- Help drive more traffic to your site
- Increase the number of people following your company on Twitter through content attribution.
And it is content and the attribution of it that is central to what Expanded Tweets is. Facebook Open Graph already enables how content is displayed and shared by individuals, while Google’s own Author Rank, which I wrote in this earlier blog post, confirms how people and what they share has become central to how reputations are built and authority is gained online.
Today, PRs have to remember that to help establish your brand and the thought-leaders within it you have to think about people, the content and the knowledge that is there to be shared online.
How do I activate Twitter Cards for my website?
There are three quite simple things you will have to do:
- Read Twitter Cards documentation and add the appropriate markup to your website – typically just 3 lines of HTML
- Test the markup using Twitter Cards Preview tool, and
- Once you have added the markup to your website, fill out this Twitter Cards application form and include a link to a representative page containing markup. Note that your submission will be rejected automatically if you have incomplete or broken markup.
Once you have submitted your email application you will have to wait for an email from Twitter confirming that your request to be included in Twitter Cards has hopefully been approved. Following the activation and depending on the type of content you publish on your site, tweets will be shown in three different forms:
- Summary: The default card, which includes the title of your story, description of the post, thumbnail image used on the article, and Twitter account attribution
- Photo: A Tweet sized photo card showing image posted on your site
- Player: A Tweet sized video/audio/media player card displaying content that can be clicked and played
Twitter Cards will attribute both the author of a post by mentioning their Twitter handle and the Twitter account of the site that carries the content.
Why has Twitter launched this service?
A lot of people are turning to Twitter for real-time news. Today though news comes not just from traditional media outlets, but from bloggers and influencers online. As I have mentioned before, many news outlets are no longer battling to be the first for breaking news. Instead they are focusing at verifying and curating the content that people are capturing and sharing around the globe.
Today, everybody has a community around them and Twitter is aiming to be the hardwire that connects us.
I am a PR within an organisation that traditionally just publishes press releases on our website, can I use Twitter Cards?
Yes, you can. But don’t expect to improve the level of engagement between your audience and your brand if the content that you share has no personality.
The challenge that you are going to have to overcome is that of developing a tone and personality that your brand is going to have to use online and in real-time. Think of your team as a newsroom. You might have to:
- Adapt the structure of your website
- Increase the amount of content that you share on your site,
- Increase the frequency of the content
- Attribute individuals to content – CEO, CIO and other internal thought-leaders, which will require you to develop their own online personalities. Google search results is pushing people with authority to the top of rankings. Twitter is looking to do the same.
Get it right and over time you could see increase engagement between your audience and your brand.
As a consultant I have spent time reviewing the communications departments of clients, restructuring and training teams to ensure that they are more flexible and their content is more in tune with what their audience wants. Through PR and social media consultancy I help companies and brands capture the ground and enter the conversation – teaching how to listen and engage. The aim is to help get their audiences talking and carrying their messages off-line.
Twitter Cards is just one tool that can help brands increase engagement. One tool that can maximise conversations and discussions.