Twitter rolled out image and video previews in Twitter timelines yesterday. Predictably, it was met with an uproar from disgruntled users. This is somewhat ironic given the furore that erupted when Instagram cards were turned off and we all had to click out of Twitter to see everyone’s food pics on Instagram. We have short memories it would seem.
With their upcoming IPO, Twitter is under pressure to drive revenue upwards so appealing to advertisers is an absolute necessity as Facebook has shown. From a brand perspective, this update makes Twitter a more attractive advertising option as the Promoted Tweets will appear expanded on the timeline of the users you target. It will also make it easier to run simple competitions or drive more interactions on lighter engagement tweets if they are accompanied by an image or short video.
From a user perspective, I quite like the visual change but I have also been seeing this on and off in my timeline for a few weeks so its not a complete shock to me. I suspect it will be harder to read all the tweets – scrolling rates are bound to increase so you could easily miss a whole chunk of tweets if they are surrounded by previewed meme images. Imagine!
If you really hate this feature, you can turn image preview off in the iOS and Android apps (under Settings) but not on Twitter.com. Given the popularity of mobile devices, statistics on how many users have activated this option will be important for advertisers.
3 changes I’d like to see in Twitter’s Image Preview:
Better cropping of the image in the Twitter timeline. The preview crops the top and bottom off the original image which is annoying. Just show the whole damn thing and be done with it.
The option to switch the image preview off when not on WiFi. As Instagram users will know, viewing images can churn through a lot of mobile data. I can hear the telcos rubbing their hands now!
A filter for NSFW images. No-one needs to see those. Spam accounts will love this feature (unfortunately). Brace yourselves.
Third party apps like Tweetbot might see a quick spike in users trying out their app to avoid the image preview, but remember how everyone hated #NewTwitter? Then (eventually) we all got over it and we went back to enjoying using the platform – that we pay nothing to use. At least the videos don’t auto-play, right?