Recently, the social media management platform, Hootsuite, announced that it will be supporting pic.twitter.com for all Hootsuite Pro users. It appears that they will also be updating this support as the default setting for image sharing from any Pro-user dashboard.
This means that all pictures posted to Twitter via Hootsuite, providing the user pays the $9.99/month Pro-level rate or is at least a part of a Pro Organization, will finally be embedded in the Tweet stream as picture previews, à la natural Tweets, not merely as ow.ly links.
While some may be breathing sighs of relief, others may not have known there was an issue in the first place. What is going on with our Twitter uploads, anyway?
Twitter employs the use of a simple HTML Meta tag coding system, called Twitter Cards, which allows a user to enliven their media experience by uploading summaries of linked articles, photos, and/or videos to each Tweet. When a user posts directly to Twitter, this coding system is already functioning in the basic engagement with the platform, and uploading images or videos directly to Twitter is a simple attach-and-share procedure. Problems might begin to arise, however, when a user attempts to upload media from a different social media platform, such as Facebook.
Many Twitter users might notice that images shared from Instagram via Twitter appear merely as links to the photo on the Instagram website. The user is forced to click the link to see the photo, rather than observing the image preview available to direct posts in their Tweet stream. Back in 2012, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, decided to disable photo integration with Twitter Cards. Instagram supposedly wanted to create more engagement with its web platform. Regardless of the motivation, this decision is the reason why user Instagram posts to Twitter appear as links, not as embedded images.
This not-so-subtle difference apparently has radical consequences. According to an article on Poynter.org, research by Twitter has shown that Tweets with enlivened media receive three-to-four times more engagement than Tweets without images or video. That increased engagement is incredibly significant to those who use social media professionally, and is probably a major reason why Hootsuite users demanded compatibility from their platform. Other social media outlets, such as WordPress, have plugins available that allow for Twitter Card functionality.
Users of these and many other social media platforms may still stream Tweets that are both stunning and informative. It is usually only a question of enabling compatibility, or a simple bit of coding.
After all, amongst all those voices, it pays to be loudest.