The New Twitter Image Feature. A TWEET Too Far?

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If, like me, you are a regular user of Twitter you will by undoubtedly have become aware of some changes as to how you are now being presented with images and video in your Twitter stream.

In fact you may even have noticed that just as with Facebook, there are now large images & even video streams popping up uninvited into your Twitter stream without you so much as having to click on a link as you would have had to have done previously!

For many people this has come as something as a surprise – as long term Twitter users have become used to the fact that in order to see video or images they have always had to actively click on a link in the past.

So what on earth is going on?

Well none of us are fools and clearly we might all (probably correctly) conclude that this has come about as a result of the ever increasing revenue that can be generated for a social media platform such as Twitter through them being able to offer enhanced image and video sharing capabilities to users. This clearly makes sites more appealing to businesses and marketers who will look to capitalise on this functionality, and is also appealing to the more ordinary social user who enjoys being more readily able to share their images.

It’s also no co-incidence I’m sure, that this new Twitter capability has been launched very shortly before Twitter goes public and has to justify its estimated $15 billion value to the market.

I’m sure from a corporate point of view Twitter execs believe that this new image sharing capability will make the stock market valuation even more credible to the market and individual investors alike, given the projections that might now be made about the number of new Twitter users who might join the platform based on its potential for generating advertising revenue.

But when it comes to a traditionally text orientated platform like Twitter, is this new development a good or a bad one and even more importantly what implications can this have for you and your business?

So here’s what I’m picking up from the ground!!


The Regular Twitter Users:

In theory you would certainly expect that Twitter users views about this development would vary significantly, and in a survey I conducted last week this is exactly what I found.

Speaking to 20 Twitter users on the ground last week, who were using Twitter for a mix of either purely social  or more business orientated reasons views did tend to polarise significantly.

At one extreme I spoke to users who claimed that they would consciously block the Twitter feeds of anyone who saturated their Twitter streams with uninvited images and video – those with this view argued that this was because Twitter was in danger of becoming ‘another version of Facebook’ and they anticipated that they were going to get bombarded with ad’s against their will..

At the other end of the spectrum I also spoke to more enthusiastic Twitter users who felt that this facility allowed for more diversity and freshness to the Twitter stream. To these people more use of video and imagery would ‘freshen things up a little’

But even here, this group also felt that again if they became oversaturated they would simply block the offending sender from their stream.


So what are the implications for your business or brand?

Leaving the Twitter user aside for the moment, many social media commentators are viewing this new development as being comparable to allowing a business to effectively place a large ‘banner ad’ directly in the Twitter stream of customers and prospects.

So is this a good or bad thing?

Well in my view whether it would be a good or bad thing for a business to start capitalising on this new functionality would be dependent on a number of factors including:

  • The visual appeal of a product or brand (does it have visual appeal or does it lend itself to a visual campaign?)
  • The demographics and accessibility of the audience concerned
  • An intimate knowledge of the customer profile and their ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’
  • The creative quality bought to the use of the particular images and video.
  • The frequency with which people were subject to these visuals in their Twitter streams

So for me at this moment in time there is no absolute and definitive answer as it is so dependent on many of the variables above!

I do believe however that potentially there is a significant marketing opportunity here, BUT if you yourself are now considering integrating this approach into your own campaigns, I would caution against overdoing things and potentially causing customers and potential clients to block you from their Twitter streams in their frustration at being bombarded with messages.

So as with any marketing approach, I would suggest that if you are going to send image and video feed out directly, then at this stage you ensure that you are sending out good quality content as there will be an awful lot of poor content out there.

Additionally be measured in your use of visual material and take time to measure and monitor the audience response you are getting

And of course remember that it is only ONE part of the marketing mix you can use in order to get closer to your audience

So –  an attractive new development being offered by Twitter, but my cautionary note would be to balance creative use of this new Twitter facility with an awareness that overuse may switch –off as many people in your audience as those that you manage to engage with.

So what are your thoughts on this?

I’d be fascinated to hear your views and experiences – please feed them in and the best of them will be collated into a future article with full credit given to each chosen contributor.

So as always if you want to contact me feel free to use the contact form on this website or you can reach me at:

Until next time