In a recent blog post, Sr. Product Manager Todd Sherman reported that media attachments, such as photos, GIFs, videos or Quote Tweets will no longer “use up” characters. The change will take effect sometime “over the coming months,” he said. The social network is also no longer counting retweets and @names towards character counts. Twitter users rejoice!
The reason for the changes? “Generally, we want to make sure we’re encouraging a whole lot more conversations on Twitter,” Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, said in an interview with The Verge. He explained that counting user names against the character count “inhibited discussions,” adding “…I’m excited to see even more dialog because of this.”
These changes present some major perks for brands and show that Twitter realizes that images are crucial to driving engagement.
Here are six ways brands can capitalize on the new rules and step up their visual content commerce strategy:
1. Images are compelling calls to action…if done correctly
You can’t just repost a banner ad or digital coupon from your website and expect clicks. Twitter is more of a real-time outlet for consumers to look for timely information and breaking news — and have relevant conversations. To stand out, your images need to really pop. Incorporate a diverse mix of images, including user-generated content, branded lifestyle shots and even unique images promoting deals, sales and events.
In this example, Nordstrom is promoting the deadline for its Tony Awards Sweepstakes. The image spotlights the glamorous red carpet and contest, while the actual tweet includes the “last chance” messaging and a direct link. The tweet isn’t repetitive at all. Rather, the tweet and the photo compliment each other to create a call-to-action.
— Nordstrom (@Nordstrom) June 6, 2016
2. Support your images with fun messaging
Gone are the days where you have to cram all your messaging into a Twitter image. Because your visual content will no longer suck up all your characters, you can dedicate some more time and attention to your Twitter copy. Use this as an opportunity to connect with users on a more personal level.
Refer to this tweet from REVOLVEclothing for inspiration. The focus of the message is the image, which focuses on models adorned in the latest fashion line developed in partnership with Nicole Richie. Rather than adding text to the image, REVOLVEclothing gives all the details, and provides a direct link, inside the post.
— REVOLVE (@REVOLVE) June 2, 2016
3. Add GIFs, emojis and memes to the mix
Some brands assume that because Twitter is a news-oriented outlet, it’s all business all the time. But just like on Facebook and Instagram, Twitter users like to have fun, too! Share and create GIFs and memes, and use them to kickstart conversations.
E-commerce phenomenon Jet.com applied several of these best practices in a single tweet! The social team used a cute puppy GIF (what else is better), an emoji and a few relevant hashtags to display how everyone feels when they save some money. The best part about this post is that it paints a picture extremely relevant to the business, which offers significant savings on a diverse range of products.
— Jet (@Jet) June 5, 2016
4. All hail the hashtag
#MCM, #WCW, #TBT, #FBF…what do all of these hashtags have in common? They started as niche social trends and have become widely adopted across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. Use images created in-house, by consumers and even your employees to capitalize on some of these trends, and use a hashtag that truly resonates with your target customers.
Social media users flock to Rebecca Minkoff because of her chic fashion sense, her personable posts and her behind-the-scenes details. For the most part, the designer uses her social accounts to share photos of new fashion lines, in-store events and even her involvement in industry events. This photo, however, shows a more intimate side and spotlights one of social’s top hashtags: #MondayMotivation.
— Rebecca Minkoff (@RebeccaMinkoff) June 6, 2016
5. Tackle what’s trending
And while you’re at it, keep your eye on trending topics and hashtags. Get involved in these timely conversations and include images and calls to action if it makes sense. This is a great way to show you’re in tune with important news and timely trends.
For example, renowned designer and fashion guru Michael Kors added himself to the CFDA Awards buzz by commenting on his favorite looks and adding the #CFDAAwards hashtag. This was a great way for him to converse with the Twitter-sphere while also sharing his personal thoughts, opinions and commentary as a leader in the fashion world.
Get ready for a fashion frenzy! Stay tuned as we reveal who’s wearing what at tonight’s #CFDAAwards.
— Michael Kors (@MichaelKors) June 6, 2016
6. Continue the conversation
A standard social media best practice is to actively track feedback and respond to questions and comments in a timely fashion. We would argue that this is most important on Twitter, where users access content and share feedback in the moment (and sometimes even on impulse). So if someone engages with your images and content, time is truly of the essence.
Mattress manufacturer Casper uses Twitter as a key channel for customer service and engagement. After promoting its napmobile, a follower asked whether it would be coming to Canada. The brand swiftly responded with a follow-up link to the information. Heck, the tweeter even sent a funny GIF as a response. What’s not to love?
— Casper (@Casper) May 28, 2016
Twitter’s planned changes present a lot of new opportunities for brands to embrace visual commerce and get more value out of their diverse content arsenals. But as you can gather from these best practices, brands need to master the art of conversation in order to truly maximize their reach and engagement on Twitter.