Visual Nightmare on Tweet Street

Posting images on Twitter can be a true marketer’s dream. Visuals can add color to your tweets and even evoke emotions. They are considered true assets in the field of marketing to avoid making dull and unentertaining content and can really make your tweets stand out from the rest.

Further more, several studies show the true power visuals have to draw the attention of people towards brands and content and their undeniable ability to create tangible engagement, shown in the numerous clicks, retweets and favorites these colorful tweets get, in comparison to their plain-text counterparts.

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But it’s not always fun and games when it comes to choosing the right type of images you should tweet. There are cases, when what was supposed to be a dreamy image, turns out stale and doesn’t produce the expected results. In other cases, the image seems to do the exact opposite of what it was meant to do, making your tweet completely unnoticeable or -worst case scenario- it becomes viral for all the wrong reasons, managing to destroy your brand’s reputation and turning into a real social media nightmare.

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That is why,  to avoid turning your social media dream into a nightmare, I plan to give you a heads up on what visuals you should think twice before tweeting. I will also give you a couple of useful tips, so you don’t upset your followers or your chances to succeed.

6 Types Of Visuals You Shouldn’t Tweet And 2 Useful Tips


Think Twice Before Tweeting Your Product

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As marketers, specially when we are launching a new product or an update of a cool new feature, we immediately want to show it off posting relevant content with screenshots that display an accurate picture of what it can do. But, sadly enough, unless our product is a sports car, clothing or fine dining, it’s rarely a good idea to post it as a Twitter image.

Even though your list of followers might be filled with your users and loyal customers, who are probably familiar or at least interested in knowing every detail of your product, your tweet might still underperform. No matter how relevant or interesting the content might be, when accompanied by an unappealing image, it will most likely fail to attract attention.

This is because, Twitter might not be the right platform to post screenshots of a complex product like an app for example. Software tends to be filled with intricate details and lots of features that may not be appropriately displayed in a 500 pixel image to make it appealing without looking overly complicated.

Moreover, it could lead users to think that your only purpose on Twitter is to sell and they just won’t respond to that. You must always remember that social media is not a free advertising platform and people are there with the sole purpose of connecting with others. So if you want to build and keep your reputation on the tweetosphere, try to connect more and to promote less. Gain your the trust of your followers and establish true relationships with them.

Finally, try to be creative and innovate a little, if you want to promote your product. Find unusual but attractive ways to represent it, like adding a person using the product or showing visual representations of the product itself. The key is to think outside the box and find an effective way to portray your product  in an eye-catching manner, making your visuals boost your numbers.


Stock Photos Are Not Appealing

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Are you tired of seeing those generic photos, featuring the same models, one from each ethnicity as if it were a Benetton ad, giving each other high-fives while wearing a huge smile all dressed up in their fancy business attires? Or maybe those numberless graphs and arrows that seem to point nowhere? Well, people in the tweetosphere are fed up with them too.

Lots and lots of brands have witnessed more than once how their tweets, filled with amazing content, quickly fade in the everlasting tweet feed with only a few clicks and a couple of retweets, thanks to a generic stock photo. So think twice before sabotaging your tweets with plain and dull stock images.

Try taking your own photos to complement your content. If you’re not an expert, use Instagram or any of the image-enhancing applications that are available today, to achieve a decent looking photo. With the use of some filters and a little editing, you can produce a better impression than most of the stock photos out there can provide.

Stock imagery should only be used as a last resort. If you do use it, try to choose an image with a message that is not too obvious to represent your content. For example, an image of birds flying in a “V” formation is a far more interesting way to represent a post about leadership than a model wearing a suit with a large crowd standing behind him.

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Avoid Images That Fail To Add Any Value

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Due perhaps to lack of imagination, we see lots of people on Twitter still not taking full advantage of tweeting with visuals. They’re failing to give any context to their posts through their images by adding visuals that illustrate the Tweet as clearly and directly as possible. People need something extra to respond.

Sometimes you see a tweet with great content that doesn’t perform like it should and the only clear suspect is the image that was attached to it. Even when an image is displayed very clearly, is well-designed and happens to be eye-catching, if it doesn’t add anything to the whole tweet, it is bound to go unnoticed and can actually reduce the value of the tweet.

I believe that by now you can grasp a lot better the idea of the type of visuals I’m talking about. A good example would be promoting your newly launched infographics creation tool and only displaying a picture of your app’s logo or only showing a photo with just a mouse and a computer. In both of these cases the images fail to add any context and don’t reinforce at all, the idea you’re trying to portray.

That is why, it is of the utmost importance that you find an image that truly adds value to your message. This is done by asking yourself what your followers would like to know about your content, before clicking and finding an image that can fulfill that need. If you can display an image with text that complements it and provides individual value, then you’ve found a formula that will most likely result in engagement.


Don’t Use Photos That Could Be Interpreted As Offensive

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Adding visuals with a little bit of shock and awe can really make your tweets stand out from the rest. However, you must be very prudent when doing so, because there’s a fine line between shaking things up a little and being blatantly offensive. The last thing you want to do is to offend your followers.

That is why, before pulling a stunt to surprise your audience, you must put yourself in their shoes and think of all the possible repercussions. If you’ve done your homework and truly know and understand your audience you’ll have no problem answering that question.


Avoid Overcomplicated Visuals

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The are times, when we find the exact image to complement an article. The image is original, very relevant to readers and manages to add true value for its amazing details and it almost guarantees the viewer will wander about for minutes, trying not to miss out on everything that its complexity brings to the table. So the next logical step would be to use it in your tweets to see it work marvels as it did for your blog, right?

Well, as I said before, some tactics that work in other platforms and social networks do not always work on Twitter. Visual complexity is one of those tactics. You must remember Twitter is a place where people have only a few seconds to soak in what they see. That means, that if the photo can’t be fully absorbed at a glance, it will most likely not be compelling enough for the viewer to stop scrolling and click on your tweet.

A complicated image that features lots of colors displayed all over the place or little details that seem to be scattered throughout the picture, can manage to actually lead the focus away from the message and the real context you want to portray with your visual. That is the exact opposite of what you need, to engage people in Twitter.

That doesn’t necessarily mean your picture of choice is bad in any way. The fact is, that it might not be suited for a network like Twitter. That is why, it’s always advisable to tweet images that are easy on the eyes. You must always try to tweet images that are easily understood and manage to quickly transmit the intended message to the viewer.

So the next time you are choosing images for your tweets, try to ask someone that you trust and will give you an honest and valuable opinion, to read a draft of your tweet and look at the image. If he or she cannot quickly describe the link between your text and image, or if the image doesn’t at least spark a sense of excitement and curiosity in him or her, then it’s  clear that you ought to search for another photo.


Don’t Push Images Directly From Other Social Networks To Twitter

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As marketers, we have the obligation to be on lots of social media networks, promoting our brand and reaching as much people as we can. The only problem comes when using the option to push posts between networks, as if people interact the same way in every single one of them.

It’s still very common to this day, to see Twitter profiles urging their followers to “like”, “comment” and “share” their content, or see the usual “I posted a new photo on Facebook…”, and it makes those brands look just plain lazy.

In fact, statistics show, just how much Twitter users actually despise cross-posting. The Sotrender Blog analyzed the 500 most followed brands on Twitter and showed specifically how links and photos had 141% more retweets than tweets that didn’t feature this attachment, compared to those with Facebook or Instagram links, which actually received 19% and 52% less retweets, respectively,  than their plain counterparts.

Furthermore, Dan Zarella also conducted  research that showed how tweets that feature are 94% more likely to be retweeted than those that don’t and tweets with Facebook or Instagram links are 47% and 42%  less likely to get retweets, respectively, than tweets with links.

The numbers speak for themselves. It’s only logical that people actually prefer to see an image displayed directly on their tweet feed, instead of having to open a link to another social network just to see what the fuzz is all about.

So, the next time you think about cross-posting through different networks, take your time to optimize your images and message for the intended network and audience.

Tip # 1. Don’t Forget To Recycle Your Images From Elsewhere and Upload Them To Twitter.

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Most marketers seem to miscomprehended the potential of cross-promoting with visuals. If you repurpose your images and old content from other platforms, you will always have fresh visuals to add to your tweets.

Contrary to cross-posting, when you “cross-promote” or “custom cross-post” you’re posting something on different social media networks that you know will benefit both audiences, while taking the time to tailor it before publishing it. So it doesn’t feel like cross-posting anymore, where you blatantly copy and paste the same link, image and caption, on all networks regardless of their different features.

As I said before, all you have to do is to tailor your pictures to square or as 400 x 600 portrait images and post them on Twitter. Use images that you have created for your blog posts or tweet old photos that did well on other social media networks.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to recycling visuals. It’s up to your ingenuity. Just make sure the visuals you recycle for Twitter are relevant, valuable and appropriate for your content, the platform and its users. Don’t post unsuitable images.

Tip # 2. Don’t Fail to Provide Visuals

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This tip might seem obvious after all the information and statistics that I just gave you, but it just doesn’t feel right not to emphasize the importance of attaching an image to your tweets.

All research done towards analyzing the effect images have on tweets, has overwhelmingly shown that adding visuals boosts their chances to get clicked, retweeted and favorited.

This is because visuals draw the attention of Twitter users.  That leaves you, with the obligation of successfully meeting the expectations of your followers, if you want to have a fair chance of achieving the engagement you’re after. Overwhelming numbers show it is a fact, that investing your time in choosing the right images to complement your content, is the true formula for conversions on Twitter.

Remember, every tweet you post without attaching an image is a missed opportunity. Good visuals can and most likely will have an overwhelmingly positive effect on your tweets.


As you can see,  people always want more out of their social media experience and we as marketers are obliged to be always a step ahead in order to successfully dazzle our potential customers with the best and most marketable content.

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So the next time you think about tweeting an image to complement your content without giving it much thought, you better think again! Because all your social media dreams and all the hard work you’ve invested nurturing your brand’s Twitter profile, could end up being in vain.

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Founder of Systrix, and the mastermind the development of PerfQ time tracker software, Blogger expert SEO, SEM, digital marketing, growth hacking and leadership with a psychedelic twist.

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Karim Dahmani
Karim Dahmani
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