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New Twitter Features

In this T-Time Show Mark Tillison is joined by Twitter superstar and author Nicky Kriel, discussing a number of new Twitter features and updates.

Twitter Cards Format Using Markup Data

3:00 – Nicky explains that Twitter Card format uses Twitter Card markup, special code that you can add to web pages to tell Twitter which media you’d like included in the tweet, like this one:

You can see that this tweet includes an image, a headline, a description and the author of the post.

The vast majority of websites using Twitter card markup in this way will be using a plugin or an extension rather than coding the markup themselves.

Nicky and Mark discuss Yoast – an SEO plugin for WordPress which manages this markup data for Twitter and also Open Graph format, which will give your posts richer formatting on Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn amongst many other sites.

Once you’ve added a plugin and set up your cards, you’ll also need to authenticate your site using the Twitter Validator to be eligible to show Twitter cards too.

Twitter Card Creation Via Twitter Ads

9:15 As an alternative to adding all this code to your website, or if you want to send clicks to a page you don’t have control over, or maybe you want to create a number of variations of images with the same URL, you can create Twitter cards manually using the Twitter Ads interface and creating a Website Card.

Although this is part of Twitter Ads, you won’t need to spend any money to use the function. As Mark notes in the video, head over to http://ads.twitter.com and work through the Card Creation process, adding in the URL and images that you want to use. Twitter will generate a new URL for you, which is the address of the card. If that URL is included in a tweet, you’ll see a rich media tweet.

The only downside to this is that anyone else sharing the original page URL won’t include this rich media.

Twitter Analytics

12:12 Nicky explains the value of Twitter Analytics, a new Twitter feature introduced in October 2014. A number of revisions have been included since to improve the data available. Twitter Analytics provides you with more reliable dataset about the reach of your tweets, the level of engagement and how many people clicked.

Twitter monitoring tools such as SumAll are great, but don’t have the same level of detail as Twitter. For example, whilst SumAll reports the retweet reach as the number of users your tweets potentially reached, Twitter Analytics reports the number of times your tweet(s) were actually rendered in users’ timelines, which is a far more accurate measurement of Twitter success.

Retweet With a Comment – Twitter Embedded Tweets

19:55 Nicky and Mark explore the benefits and drawbacks of one of the new Twitter features, embedded tweets. Before, users could quote a tweet including the original content in their tweet and adding to it. The new function includes a link to the original tweet and “embeds” that tweet into your new tweet.

Mark explains his failed test to embed an embedded tweet in a tweet, and also his attempt to embed a tweet within a tweet within a blog post (see that here).

Overall, this new Twitter feature is a good thing, allowing more space for comments against the original tweet, whilst still quoting the original.

Group Direct Messages on Twitter

26:26 Nicky explains the recently updated “allow any users to DM” and the Group DM feature, allowing multiple users to be included in a DM chat.

  • By default, Twitter users who you follow can send you a Direct Message (DM)
  • For you to reply to that DM, that user has to be following you

There is a new Twitter feature in your Account Settings which allows the user to accept DMs from accounts which they do not follow. Nicky and Mark both agree that this should really be limited to brands who are using the Twitter DM function for customer support.

Most Twitter users would be best advised not to enable that function for fear of spam messages.

  • The Group DM function is limited to a maximum of 20 users (probably too high as it is very difficult to keep up a conversation with that many people at once).
  • Any user in the Group DM can invite other Twitter users who are following them to the Group DM. That means that if you initiate a group DM, other users can invite users that you are not following.

Twitter Highlights

35:14 This is a new Twitter algorithm. A personalised stream of what Twitter thinks you will be interested in based on your Twitter activities and engagement.

Nicky and Mark discuss the now retired “Discovery” tab and it seems that Twitter Highlights will be something similar, introducing new content from sources and users that you’re not following to improve your Twitter experience.

Mark considers whether this is an attempt by Twitter to become a destination for news, as Facebook has recently been targeting. What do you think – is this Twitter’s aim? Share your views with us about this or any of the other new Twitter features in the comments.

Highlights is rolling out to some users at the time of recording the show.

Changes to Prominence of Twitter Ads

41:30 Mark notes an interesting test which Twitter seems to be running with Twitter ads currently.

During the last 12 months, Google AdWords has modified its policy on its ads, making the ads themselves more obviously ads by adding a small yellow “ad” symbol next to each one. This makes it clearer to users that these are ads that they’re about to click on.

Google AdWords Ads Comparison 2014-2015

In recent weeks Mark noticed that although Twitter launched Twitter ads with something similar (a yellow symbol with “promoted by [advertiser]”), some promoted tweets do not include the yellow symbol, but still include the “promoted by [advertiser]” text.

Twitter Ads Comparison 2015


It seems that Twitter may be testing whether the yellow symbol increases or decreases engagement and click through rate on ads. We’ll keep an eye on this for developments.

Watch more T-Time Shows on Social Media on YouTube.

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