5 Ways to Optimise Twitter’s Redesign

Twitter is great for engaging with specific target audiences – the foodies #noms or the lovers of vintage #tbt – but

Photo Credit: Anna Crowe
Photo Credit: Anna Crowe

Twitter is changing in a big, visually beautiful way.

Go ahead and take a second to add the line item “relearn the ropes and rewire your brand’s social media strategy” to your to-do list. We’ll wait.

Alright, now that’s done, here’s the scoop: Twitter had it’s own version of Project Makeover awhile back and now mobile has followed suit. Now we’re faced with a whole new profile experience including greater emphasis on content being shared, top tweets getting a bump, a big visual boost and more opportunities for brands to create more engaging and memorable connections with consumers.

Sounds great right? It definitely is, but you also might be left thinking, “So how does Twitter’s refresh affect my brand and our social media strategy?”

We’ll get there, but first things first. Here’s the run-down on what’s new:


Get on the Grid

Get on the grid


To the left, that’s where your profile picture, bio and all the other important things that were crammed in a tiny rectangle of a header now exist. Moving away from the vertical timeline, the rest of your browser space is filled with your Twitter feed content, with your followers and whom you’re following.

A larger profile picture

profile picture

When someone views your Twitter profile your logo/branded image will have a much greater presence at 400 by 400 pixels rather than a lost-in-the-abyss looking thumbnail.

When someone views your Twitter profile your logo/branded image will have a much greater presence at 400 by 400 pixels rather than a lost-in-the-abyss looking thumbnail.

More header real estate

Twitter Header

The profile picture gets more room, and so does the header. Covering the entire browser and sitting at 1500 by 500 pixels, your new header is sitting pretty for prime high-resolution photo placement. More on that later.

The Highlight Reel

The highlight reel

Inside your stream you’ll see various tweet sizes.  No, no, tweets are still 140 characters, but your tweets that received the most engagement (RT’s, favourites, replies) will appear a little larger. It’s Twitter’s way of saying “this is what’s up.” These are now called Best Tweets.

Pinned Tweets

Pinned Tweets

Depending on your level of obsession with Pinterest we have to say “sorry to burst your bubble” or “calm yourself,” Twitter is not taking cues from Pinterest. A pinned tweet is one you choose to pin to the top of your feed so it’s the first tweet followers viewing your profile reads so they can “see what you’re all about.” Oh, the strategic possibilities!

Smooth Stalking Mode

smooth stalking mode

We promise this is way more convenient than it is creepy. You can now choose to “Filtered Tweets” that allows you to filter between various tweet stream views: tweets only, tweets plus replies or tweets with photos/videos.

If you’re an adopter of all things new and shiny, you probably clicked the “Get it now” button the minute Twitter released the new profile option to non-Twitter celebrities on April 22nd, in which case, sorry for preaching to the choir.

If you’re a little adverse to change and you haven’t really explored all the new features, you better keep reading because whether you like it or not, this is Dick Costolo’s (the CEO of Twitter) world and we’re just living in it aka you’ll have to change over eventually.

Whether you’re of the gung-ho or skeptic variety, here are some awesome ways to rule the Twitterverse. Okay, maybe not the whole Twitterverse, but you’ll have a sweet looking feed and be on top of the new Twitter game. #winning

1.) Header Photos – Lessons from Facebook

Since this feature is obvious in it’s similarity to that of Facebook, we could all take a hint from previous social media lessons learned. The key here is using a high-resolution photo that fits the allotted space and getting creative.

Now that your header image is no longer covered by your bio and avatar, you’ve got a little extra room to breathe (1500 by 500 pixels of breathing room to be exact), which means more possibilities for a user-driven image with a branded message.

Using your header to show an image of your newest products and services, your organisation/company giving back to the community, or a behind-the-scenes look at your offices or employees is an ideal way to utilise that space. Also, just a word of caution, don’t just move over the same image from your Facebook cover photo because the dimensions will be off, not to mention this is brand new space you didn’t have before, do something different!

t’s basically like you got tossed a free billboard because the building blocking your space got demolished; use your new space wisely.

Here’s a few of my favs:

Fave - good pop fave - nokia fave - toyota fave-spotify

2.) Let’s Get Emotional – Tweets with feelings

Now that we have the freedom to select exactly what tweet a reader sees first when visiting our profile, our ability to trigger emotional cues just went through the roof.

While pinning a tweet relating to an upcoming event or an announcement is a great thing to ensure people see the most relevant news relating to your brand, those times when there’s nothing new to report is ideal for pinning a tweet that stirs up some emotional connections.

In a study by IPA databank, research indicated that emotionally flagged content outperformed rational content nearly two to one.  No shocker there, when’s the last time you retweeted something where your visceral response was “meh?” Never, that’s when.

Finding that emotional pinpoint with our audience is what prompts sharing, and at the end of the day that’s the main result we want to include in our analytics. Think about how people in your audience share and what patterns you’ve observed to determine whether the content you’re considering moving to the top will get traction.

As a side note, keep in mind that the ideal shareable tweet peaks at 18 minutes and is roughly 100 characters long.  People want to add to your commentary when they’re retweeting, so scoot over and give them their space on your soapbox.

3.) If Content is King, Visuals are William and Kate

Visuals are the darlings of social media, of course content alone will always be necessary, but visuals are really what get people engaged. Just when you thought this was too much like Facebook, we think Twitter took a hint from Instagram on this one.

According to Buffer, tweets with photos get 18 percent more clicks and 150 percent more retweets than their plain, old text counterpart tweets. Sometimes reading 140 characters of text at a time is just too hard on the brain, you know?

This point isn’t unique to Twitter, visuals rule over most social networks, but Twitter’s redesign is stepping up their game. People who view your profile now have easier access to the visual content you post.

Not only do you no longer have to click on the link to the picture to open it up (the image is already visible within the tweet box), but now there’s a “Photos/Videos” tab at the top of your feed right next to tweets allowing you can see a filtered stream of only tweets containing visuals.

Take a look at these big brands:

Big brands - Starbucks

Big Brands - Meow Mix

Big Brands - GE

4.) Be Aware of your @ – Replying like a secret agent

Twitter assumes that the intention of tweets starting with an @ reply to another user is it’s a direct conversation between the two of you, so Twitter keeps the tweets somewhat “private” by only showing the person being tweeted at, and those users who follow both accounts, to see the direct tweets in their streams.

This fact comes into social media strategy where you can make sure your user’s feeds don’t get junked up with customer interactions you may not want all to see or chime in on. Conversely, if there are tweets between you and a consumer you want all your followers to see (think super awesome commentary about how your brand is the best at [insert whatever it is you do] of all time) make sure you @ reply the person your tweeting somewhere in the middle or end.

Tweeting syntax isn’t the only thing to note, responding to everyone and everything that someone does in an effort to connect with your brand, whether it be RT’s, favourites, or a mention, is going to get more conversation going and build connections. And from a certain perspective, it’s pretty humbling when someone shares something of yours. It means on some level they care, and you should show your brand cares back.

Remember, Twitter is a community board, not a newsletter.

5.) Don’t hand out favourites like candy

 “Favouriting” a tweet is synonymous with “liking” a comment on Facebook. In essence it means, “I acknowledge what you’re saying and I identify with you, or thanks, but I have nothing to really say about it,” or it means, “I have nothing left to contribute to this conversation, but I saw your last tweet/comment.”

Favouriting is used as a form of social currency, but according to Twitter’s redesign, the favourite option might be more important than any of us originally thought. Favourites now have a prominent place in the main navigation, like Photos/Videos, so that people can, you guessed it, see a whole separate stream of tweets you have favourited.

One idea on how to use this new stream to your advantage is using it as a social proof stream for your brand. Favourite the recommendations, testimonies, and positive blurbs from your customers and fans transforming your favourites tab as a “sharing the love” page. Virtual branding strategy high-fives all around, please.

All in all, the best thing about the entire redesign is that although your profile will look completely different, the makeover doesn’t change the way you read your newsfeed and it isn’t about making Twitter friendlier for casual users.

It’s an acknowledgement that some people may never make it to your individual Twitter profile, but it’s a concession to another type of user and another type of user behavior.  We can’t wait for new trends to unfold, chat us up on Twitter and let’s see how it goes.