The Christmas season is here, we know that because John Lewis has released their advert which is pretty much melting the hearts of the hardest men and for me that is a clear a sign as any that Christmas is not far away. So with the season beginning and the chance for you to get out there and sell your product, how can Twitter help? Well one thing that I think all SMEs should be using is a tool called Twitter cards, a lesser known feature of the social network.

So what are Twitter cards and how do they work? When your site has Twitter cards enabled then your tweets get sent with a view summary that looks like the screenshot below.

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 08.29.10

The Twitter card is basically a visual preview (which is great because we known people respond well to visual content on Twitter) of the content that is being tweeted in the link. Clicking on a tweet will expand the view to a preview of rich content with a title, summary and image or video. It is a great way to drive traffic to your website and makes your tweets stand out from the rest which as we know is the ever growing challenge on sites such as Twitter.

It also helps you gain exposure through content attribution. Often, people will tweet you links but will not attribute to the content creator. It is not an intentional thing, it is just something that many people don’t actually think of doing. In our case people may tweet a link but fail to insert ‘@Irish_TechNews‘ into their tweet. Thankfully by using Twitter cards on Irish Tech News we don’t have to worry about that because the link will be tweet as a Twitter card and the Twitter card has our information on there.

Content curators many times may not insert the Twitter handle of the content creator so they can conform to the 140 character limit and if you don’t have Twitter cards enabled then it could well be that someone else is gaining followers and attributes for your work. Note, I am not picking on content curators here, this is a fault of the 140 character limit and Twitter is helping to fix that fault with Twitter cards.

So now that you know what Twitter cards are and what they are used for, how do you go about getting them working on your website?

Installing Twitter Cards:

Well the good news is that if you are using WordPress then there are plenty of extensions which allow you to install and use Twitter cards. If you have a developer which many of you may do, you can also hardcode it into the website you own. For the purposes of this article I am going to explain how to install Twitter cards onto WordPress using the JM Twitter card plugin. There are of course multiple other SEO plugins that will do this however they all generally work the same way.

The JM Twitter card plugin is easy to setup and start using, it takes a few clicks to get started. This is a free plugin, simply search for it on the dashboard of your WordPress plugin page, install and activate the plugin.

Now, when you click on the JM Twitter card panel for the plugin you need to fill out some important pieces of information. Start at the general section and enter the following;

  • content creator name
  • the website username
  • the type of card you want to display (summary, summary below large image, photo, application)
  • set open graph to ‘yes’
  • excerpt to ‘no’

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 08.54.45

 

Then click on the Meta box subheading under JM Twitter cards and select it to ‘display’ – note it is important that you check this off otherwise your Twitter cards are not going to work.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 08.59.50

 

If you get stuck at any one point there is a tutorial option in the sub menu under JM Twitter cards that will walk you through the process however these are the basic steps for setup. Finally, you will need to request approval from Twitter in order to get all of this to work.

Validate Your Website With Twitter:

Under the general sub heading on JM Twitter cards there is a link to go to the validator, most plugins will have this present however here is the direct link should you need it when reading this article. You only have to do this process once and it is pretty painless.

You simply login to the validator and it will ask, “What type of Twitter card do you want to validate?” You need to choose the card you have already selected in the JM Twitter card settings. They must match up or Twitter will not approve your request.

Next click on the ‘validate&apply’ tab, this will validate that you have the proper code setup on your site and will take you into the approval process with Twitter if everything is setup as it should be.

Enter a URL, make sure it is not your homepage URL. Instead, enter a link to a post on your website. You will then receive an acknowledgement followed by a notification that you have been approved. The process if very quick and once you have been approved the last thing you need to do is test it out.

The Final Step:

The final step is to simply test your Twitter card, tweet a link to one of your articles and then check the summary view of the tweet when you click on it. Make sure everything is appearing as you want it to, you can go back and tweak things in your settings if you need to.

Twitter cards are a great tool for content attribution and also for gaining expose and followers by using great visual content on the summary view of your tweets. It is a free tool from Twitter and one that all SME’s should be using in my opinion. It is straight forward to setup and get going, I would encourage any content creator to check it out and implement it on their website.

About The Author

Mark is the founder of 60 Second Social media where he provides social media news and digital marketing analysis, he is also a proud father of his bearded dragon, Lola. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow 60 Second Social on Twitter here.