What are Twitter Cards?

    David Thomas

    At the end of 2012, Twitter released a minor post feature with little fanfare called Twitter Cards.
    Not dissimilar to Facebook allowing a business to have a little control over how content is presented on Facebook, Twitter Cards make it possible for you to attach media to Tweets that link to your content.
    Simply add a few lines of HTML to your webpages, and users who Tweet links to your content will have a “card” added to the Tweet that’s visible to all of their followers.
    Originally launching with only the three card types, there are now seven types that can be attached to Tweets.
    Each of these Cards has been specifically built for viewing via Twitter’s web and mobile clients:

    • Summary Card: Default Card, including a title, description, thumbnail, and Twitter account attribution.
    • Summary Card with Large Image: Similar to a Summary Card, but offers the ability to prominently feature an image.
    • Photo Card: A Tweet sized photo Card.
    • Gallery Card: A Tweet Card geared toward highlighting a collection of photos.
    • App Card: A Tweet Card for providing a profile of an application.
    • Player Card: A Tweet sized video/audio/media player Card.
    • Product Card: A Tweet Card to better represent product content.

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    Now having digested the technical specifications you may, like me the first time around, have read this and be thinking to yourself… ‘I don’t really understand, what does a Card do and what is its purpose?’.
    A Twitter Card is essentially a ‘preview’ feature for web-based content that is being linked to in a Tweet. When somebody tweets a URL with Card meta tags, Twitter’s web crawler will fetch the Card from your website and store it in the Twitter cache.
    For example, have a new Blog Post that you want to push out to your followers and are struggling with the 140 character limit? Perhaps you have an image that, when accompanied with the article, provides you with the best opportunity to attract click throughs? Twitter Cards provides the solution.
    Using a Twitter ‘Summary Card with Large Image’, you now have the ability to preview a post/web page with an accompanying image that will appear in your Followers Twitter streams.
    A photographer may have a gallery of new images recently uploaded to their portfolio website and, rather than simply posting a link and asking Followers to visit via Twitter, may place the ‘Gallery Card’ code onto the Gallery page of the website and be able to preview numerous images within the one tweet.
    Understand the concept? Great!
    Depending on your Twitter habits and what you use Twitter for, this may well not be welcome news.
    If you, again like me, use Twitter as a news source + the occasional retweet and, when time permits, an ‘original’ tweet (!!), you might be starting to envisage a VERY crowded stream of information in your Twitter feed.
    That said, marketers will no doubt see the opportunity to place more emphasis on their posts over other accounts and draw Followers’ attention to their brand over competitors.
    Having a background in both marketing and business strategy, I can see the potential for an increase in visual real estate for brands in what is a small window of opportunity on Twitter.
    As an avid reader of news and someone that wants to be able to quickly scroll through snippets of information efficiently and on limited time, I can foresee some frustrated breaks in work as I filter through large, image-based posts in my feed.
    Good initiative or not? The jury is out on Twitter Cards for me…
    For further information on how to implement Twitter Cards, or if you’d like to read more about the topic, visit Twitter’s official Card page here; https://dev.twitter.com/docs/cards
    For those with blogs and/or websites on WordPress need look no further than the Plugin Directory for an all-in-one solution; http://wordpress.org/plugins/jm-twitter-cards. Once activated, this plugin adds appropriate meta data to your WordPress website, allowing you to get Twitter cards for your posts according to your settings.