Preparing for Twitter’s New Layout

Guest post by Courtney Doman, Digital Marketing Manager at Social: IRL sponsor, Spredfast.  Originally posted in the Spredfast blog.

Twitter recently started rolling out its new look for desktop. Initial feedback is all over the map from high praise (“stunning visual format!”) to skepticism (“Haven’t I seen this before?”)  It’s only natural to have an opinion about the new look, but getting hung up on specific changes is for the birds. Smart social marketers are already thinking about how to make the most out of their renovated real estate.

Here are five things you can do to make the most of Twitter’s new layout:

1. Update your profile picture

The aspect ratio of you profile picture hasn’t changed; it’s still a square. But things are getting much bigger in the new layout. Upload a 400x400px image to ensure that your profile picture looks great in the timeline and the new larger format profile picture at the top right hand of your profile page.

2. Add a new header image

This one will bum out the clever people and brands that had a “picture-in-picture” thing going on with their profile picture overlaying the header image.  In the new layout, the profile image is left of center and only overlaps a small portion of the cover photo (okay, even we’ll admit, this is quite similar to Facebook.)

This frees up a broad swath at the top of your profile to share an image that tells your brand story. Look at the two different stories told by Chobani and the New Zealand All Blacks. Two very different, but equally compelling messages, conveyed with a single image.

New Twitter Header Images

3. Pin an important tweet to the top of your profile page

With (well over) 5,700 tweets per second being published every day on Twitter, it’s easy to wonder whether your brand’s message is being swept away in the mad currents of your followers’ Twitter streams.  Now, if you have an important message to convey, you can pin a tweet to the top of your brand page so that it’s the first tweet a visitor will read.

Quick tip: don’t use this space to introduce your brand- that’s what your bio is for. Use it to communicate timely information like details of an upcoming sale, a match or episode specific hashtag to enhance a second-screen experience, or an important cause your brand is supporting.

4. Take advantage of new photo sharing features

Before rolling out these new desktop updates, Twitter announced social enhancements to photo sharing via mobile. You can share up to four images in a single tweet and tag up to ten people in a photo. All without taking up any more of those precious 140 characters. While these updates only affect mobile publishing, you can still view tweets with multiple pictures and photo tags from any device.

How can your brand use these features? Think about events like new store openings, or tab your design department to create a diptych, triptych, or tetraptych (we had to google that last one) where each individual image, as well as the collective collage tells a story. Michelle Obama used this feature to share photos from her recent trip to China.


5. Think about your audience(s)

While your brand may have an established presence and following on Twitter, remember that many of these changes have been motivated by Twitter’s desire to draw new users to the network. This is great for brands seeking to engage and invite more people to participate in their social community and experiences. Understand your audience and share content that will engage your community, new members and old alike.

6.  Remember, a lot of your audience is mobile

76% in fact.  These changes to the profile page currently only affect desktop views. Keep an eye out for how these updates may potentially impact mobile use, but for now, don’t take your eye of the ball in optimizing tweets for on-the-go consumption.

Are you looking forward to the new visual layout? To help you get started, we’ve created a cheat sheet to make the most of your visual timeline:

Twitter Layout

Social Media Marketing: Storytelling in 140 Characters

Guest post by Jessica Best, Community Director at emfluence, a full service interactive marketing company based in Kansas City.

In the last half of 2012, buzzwords like “content marketing” have been flying around and industry articles tell us to think more like publishers instead of like marketers. No longer can we simply share our product, its price and where to buy it. Our products solve problems. Our services provide solutions. And when we are great it, it makes for good stories. That’s what social media marketing is really about.

But how? 140 characters isn’t even enough for an introduction to your first chapter… Is it? The Salvation Army recently used a single tweet to tell a story and draw donors into their mission.

Telling a great story in just 140 characters >>  READ MORE

ManageFlitter Make-Over

We’ve been long-time fans and users of Twitter management tool ManageFlitter. Last year, we were happy to welcome them as a Social: IRL partner, and back in August joined in congratulating the team on reaching a milestone 1 million users.

The ManageFlitter user interface recently underwent a comprehensive overhaul, and at the same time the toolset was expanded with some powerful new features.

Co-founder James Peter demonstrates some of those new features in this short video. You can also learn more in ManageFlitter’s recent blog post.

Amplifying a message to an exponentially larger audience

Just how effective can social media be at amplifying a message?

The 2012 South by Southwest Interactive festival offers another great example of how, with the right message and audience buy-in, a relatively small group can leverage social media channels to amplify that message to an exponentially larger audience.

Our friends at Spredfast (a Social: IRL sponsor) had the honor of serving as the official social media management system for SXSWi.  They created the infographic you’ll see below, “Small Flock, Big Social Reach.”

The infographic highlights how in the first two days of SXSWi, 100,682 users generated a total of 224,302 event related Tweets, that reached a potential audience of some 341,723,790 users on Twitter.

To put it in perspective: A group of just over 100,000 users potentially reached some 65% of all Twitter users. To get the same number of impressions via Google AdSense that SXSWi got via Twitter would cost an estimated $2.5 million.

The infographic also provides interesting insights on exactly who was tweeting about SXSWi, and where from. You can read more about that and the implications of what’s revealed by visiting the Spredfast blog.


Extend the life of your Tweets with Twylah or Timekiwi

Great content can be shared in 140 characters, but can soon disappear in the Twitter timeline.

Two tools we recommend for extending the life of your Tweets and adding value to your brand: Twylah and Timekiwi.

Both tools aggregate your tweets into a single page that you can attach to your website or otherwise promote as home of your latest social media content. Apart from extending the life of your tweets, the content is also presented in a clean and easy to read format that is accessible to non-Twitter users as well as your regular followers.

Twylah presents your latest tweets in a single landing page. Your tweets are sorted and grouped by subject matter, and links are extracted to highlight the content you’re sharing, not simply the tweet itself. Twlyah also provides a Twitter client giving you the option of sharing content direct through the application. In that case, click thrus take users to your Twylah landing page to view the content, along with other similar content you have previously shared. The service is free for personal or business users.

Rather than a landing page format, Timekiwi aggregates your Tweets in to a timeline. With Timekiwi you can also incorporate Tumblr, Posterous, WordPress, and Instagram into a single timeline. Links are not extracted but photos are, and it’s photos that really add visual impact to the timeline. The timeline is easy to scroll through and can be displayed in either a vertical or horizontal format. Timewiki is free for personal use. Business plans are $5 per month or $50 per year.

Creating an RSS feed of a User’s Twitter Timeline


Nov 30, 2012 Update: Sorry, while the solution described below worked for a number of months, it no longer works after recent changes Twitter made.


Creating an RSS feed of a specific user’s Twitter timeline used to be easy – the RSS link was right there on the user’s profile. With the move to New Twitter, the RSS link disappeared.

Since a couple of people asked this week about adding a feed of a specific Twitter user’s posts to Google Reader, we thought we’d share the easy solution we use.

First, you need the user’s Twitter ID number.

To find the ID number for any user, paste the following link in to your browser:

Make sure to replace “username” with the actual username you are looking for.

So, for @socialirl you would use the link:

The user’s ID number will show up towards the end of the page. See the text highlighted in red below:

Twitter User ID Screenshot

Click to enlarge



Once you have the ID number simply add a new subscription to Google Reader or other RSS reader, and use the following link:

Replace XXXXX with the user’s ID number and you should be set.