twitter cards blog

If you run an ecommerce site, a blog or have an app you want to promote, Twitter Cards can be a great way to get around the 140 character limit imposed by a standard tweet. Much like add extensions on Google, Twitter Cards allow you to add enhanced details to your tweets, which could potentially lead to valuable actions for your business if used correctly.

Whether you want to focus on an image, a product or want to encourage someone to sign up for a service (to name just a few), there are 7 types of cards to choose from to best suit your desired results. These are tailored to suit the type of media promoted (be it text, image, video or sound clip), and to provide the intended audience with the information required to make them click. This means that as well as providing an improved visual experience for the viewer, the cards also allow them to interact with your posts easily from within Twitter.

For example, if your goal is to promote a particular item and make people decide on a purchase quickly, then a product card would likely be your best option. This includes a title, a thumbnail image, and a description of up to 200 words, as well as other details such as price and availability. These inject the online shopping experience directly into the viewer’s Twitter feed, allowing them to consider the purchase right there and then.

You are also able to measure the response to your cards easily, thanks to the accompanying analytics used to measure impressions and engagement with you cards. Just go to Ads, Analytics and then choose Twitter Cards, to see how well your cards have been doing. A range of metrics will display the number of impressions and clicks, along with other performance statistics, and will also let you see how well the cards have been doing over a given period of time. 

The analytics section also allows you to find out who your key ‘influencers’ are, which essentially shows which tweets had the most impact on the impressions your card received, along with the handle/persona attached to this. This function could be particularly useful to companies and individuals who have worked with bloggers for example, as it could demonstrate whether or not the product or service you attempted to promote through them is actually having the desired impact. It could also show who is already engaging with you brand, and could present potentially successful partnership opportunities in the future. 

If you think that Twitter Cards could be a useful edition to your digital marketing strategy, then there are three things you should consider in order to gain the most advantage from them: 

Test it Out

Once your developer has added the appropriate meta tags to the page you want your cards to pull information from, you can run the URL against the validator tool to test them. This allows you to preview the card, and make sure that you’re happy with the format.

If you’re just starting out with Twitter cards, or you’re unsure about which style would work best for a specific purpose, then it may be worth trying out several card types before choosing the one you will stick to. Check the analytics to see which type is performing better and driving more engagement, then make the transition to this type permanently if you are seeing consistently positive results from it.

Pin it!

If a card you have tweeted yourself has provided you with a great level of engagement or has had a particularly positive impact for you, then it is well worth pinning this tweet so that it appears at the very top of your feed.

By putting this at the top of your page, you are not only showing you or your company at your best, but are also creating an opportunity for the tweet to gain even more attention. This also allows you to prioritise your aims and messages, so that the most relevant piece of information is the first thing to be seen by your audience. This also works in terms of landing pages, as you will naturally want to direct your viewers to well-optimized and/or high-converting pages. 

Make Engaging Copy

Apart from website and lead generation cards, all card types appear in the Twitter stream in an unexpanded format by default. This means that the user must click if they want to see more of the content, by selecting the ‘view summary’ option. 

In order to make users click and view the full card, you will need to ensure that the copy itself is engaging and intriguing, in order to spark the viewer’s curiosity. The more compelling the caption, the more likely it is that people will want to find out more.


Twitter Cards are a fantastic way to offer your followers more information about your website, and when used correctly, can help to drive valuable traffic and conversions. The best part, is that they offer you a lot of freedom to try out and measure different strategies, in order to produce the best results over time. Experiment, and see what works for you, while maintaining the quality of your copy and landing pages – no Twitter Card can make up for poor content!

Follow Designer Websites on Twitter for more advice and regular updates.


When someone first suggested that you should get a blog, you weren’t really too keen on the idea. But eventually, after a lot of nagging, you came around to the idea. You thought it wouldn’t be too much work – after all, how much time do you really need to dedicate to a blog anyway? In fact, you were quite surprised by how easy it was to update your blog at first; you even began looking forward to writing the posts. 

Then one day, an important task came up when you were right in the middle of writing. ‘It can wait until later,’ you thought. ‘The blog isn’t my top priority anyway.’ Eventually, you were spending less and less time on your blog, going from one post a week to one a month, until you were spending virtually no time on it whatsoever. Neglected, and without any fresh content to sustain it, the blog soon became a distant memory, inactive and unloved.


So don’t neglect your blog any longer, use these three techniques to ensure it stays fresh and healthy:

Create a schedule

Be sure to make time for your blog. Decide ahead of time when you’re going to post and what the content will be; this will give you a plan to work from and something to stick to, so you can easily manage your other tasks around it. Thinking of topics in advance will also mean that you’re not stuck for something to write when you do get down to it, minimising the risk of writer’s block!

Think of your audience

It’s important to keep customers and readers engaged with useful content, so do your best to consider their needs and expectations when planning your blog posts. Think: what would the people who visit your website and/or use your services want to read? What would make them want to engage with your post?

Stay current

The easiest way to source fresh content and keep your blog up-to-date is by looking for important news that’s relevant to your field, or by scouting out trending topics that may be of interest to your readers. Try to make sure that what you’re posting is as original and as high-quality as possible; regurgitating content that already exists elsewhere could make people lose interest.


Here’s the bottom line: if you’re going to add a blog to your website, be sure to utilise it to its full potential. Post regularly, and post well; don’t ignore your blog for months on end, revisiting it only to post the odd bit of company news or an annual Christmas message to your clients. Your blog needs attention and love – if you don’t update it regularly, then it will not only fail to serve its intended purpose, it may actually cause your search rankings to drop. Why? Because if you haven’t updated your blog since last year, Google and its users might think you’ve abandoned your website entirely!


Google+ is a bit of a laughing stock in some circles. Launched in the summer of 2011, Google wanted G+ to be the social network that made Facebook, Twitter, and the other social giants sweat; three and a half years later, Google+ still has a long way to go before it catches up to Mark Zuckerberg and his big blue empire. At time of writing, 890 million people use Facebook on a daily basis, while Wikipedia puts Google+'s total user base at 540 million people - a solid 350,000,000 fewer than Facebook.

But does this mean that Google+ is a failure? You'd be forgiven for thinking so - most of us still use Facebook, not G+, to stay in touch with our friends, and even Google themselves tend to avoid talking about their social baby much these days. Having said that, there are plenty of good reasons to give Google+  a try...

Communities

Google+ is great if you want to find people with the same interests as you. There are hundreds of thousands of Google+ communities, and if you can't find one for your favourite thing, it's pretty easy to create your own and invite people to join it. G+ Communities are similar to Facebook Groups, but generally speaking, communities are far more active and far easier to find, join and use.

Auto-hashtags

You've probably used hashtags on Twitter, but Google+ goes a step further than its laconic competitor by automatically adding relevant hashtags to your posts. Here's an example from our own G+ account:

Google+ post

Notice how the post itself doesn't contain any hashtags whatsoever. Instead, Google+ looked at the content of our post and decided that #Design#WebDesign and #Website would be suitable tags for it. This improves your content's chances of being seen by targeting trends that you may not even have known about; this feature is particularly useful if you are posting topical content about current news stories, which people may well be following using specific hashtags that you don't know about.

SEO

If you're a website owner and you're wondering how social media might help you to climb the search rankings, you absolutely need to take a look at Google+. Remember, this is Google's own social network, and any shares or +1s you receive are effectively a recommendation to the search engine itself. Here's an interesting quote from G+'s Wikipedia entry:

According to Business Insider and TastyPlacement, having "Google+ followers boosts the [Google search] ranking the most, while a "+1" still does way more for your search ranking than Facebook or Twitter."

If you use YouTube, Gmail, Blogger, Google My Business, or any of Google's other services, you probably already have a Google+ account. You may not have used it yet, but it's never too late to log in and give it a try. It may yet overtake Facebook one day...

Today is Safer Internet Day! This annual event is organised by the UK Safer Internet Centre as a means of promoting online safety for children and young people; the slogan for this year is 'Let's create a better internet together', and we at Designer Websites want to do our bit!

Here, then, are a few simple online security tips that will help your kids (and indeed you yourself) to stay safe and secure while you surf the web:

  • Create a strong, unique password. When helping your children to set up online accounts of any kind, encourage them to think carefully before selecting a password. Avoid obvious sequences like abc123qwerty and 1234567 and popular phrases like batmanfootball or dragon. Oh, and NEVER use your own name as a password!

  • Use different passwords for different accountsOnce you've thought of a good password, it can be tempting to use that same password for every account you set up. This is a big mistake; using the same password for everything means that, if somebody breaks into one account, they can easily gain access to all of the others. Try to think of a different password every time.

  • NEVER share or publish your login details online. You never know who might see them!

  • Parents: research adult content filtersIf you want to make sure that your children don't view any adult content while they use the internet, there are a number of plug-ins that can help you. Adult Blocker is a highly-rated plug-in for Google Chrome, and FoxFilter is the #1 parental control for FireFox. Internet Explorer, meanwhile, has built-in parental controls; just click on the cog in the top-right corner of any IE window, then select Internet Options > Content Family Safety to set parental guidelines for your children's internet use.

  • Parents: use the sites your children useOne last tip for parents (and teachers, too) - get to know the sites your children are using. For example, if they have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, set up a profile of your own and learn how to use it; this will ensure that you understand what your children are doing online, and help you to advise them when it comes to privacy settings.

Which social media site do you use?

It's a silly question, of course - modern internet users would never confine themselves to just one social platform. Each one excels at something different; for example, we use Facebook to stay in touch with our friends, while Twitter is the best way to keep track of your favourite celebrities. LinkedIn is strictly for business, while Google+ communities are a great way of finding people with the same hobbies as you.

This seems like a pretty good system to us, but the biggest names in social media have other ideas. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus...each one wants to be the social network, and all of them have recently been attempting to expand their horizons and give us everything we could possibly need. Here's how social media moguls seem to be thinking right now:

"If I give them hashtags and trending topics," Mark Zuckerberg reasoned, "they won't need to leave my website to check Twitter! I'll be the King of the Internet!"

This attitude has resulted in a massive online arms race, with everyone plagiarising everyone else's features in a bid to be the one site that really does have everything. It's hard to say whether or not this is a good thing; we are getting some cool new features out of the ongoing social skirmish, but a lot of people liked Twitter (for example) the way it was, and a lot of these changes have gone down like lead balloons.

If you're not entirely sure what we're talking about, here are three features that social media sites have copied from each other recently:

Trends & Hashtags

Who did it first? Twitter, of course - the microblogging site has been utilising hashtags for years. They've been used for serious purposes (like tracking new stories as they develop) and silly purposes (adding a sarcastic bit of commentary to the end of a tweet), but no matter how you use 'em, they'll always be associated with Twitter first and foremost.

Who else is doing it? Pretty much everyone, although Facebook are the most notable plagiarists here. In fairness, everybody was using hashtags in their FB posts anyway, so it's hard to blame ol' Zuckers for appropriating Twitter's big idea; it's much easier to point the finger at him for Facebook's recently-introduced 'Trending' section, which actually goes one better than Twitter's 'Trends' by including a snippet of information about each trending topic.

Handy, although we can only imagine how many people had Game of Thrones spoiled for them by that little white box in the corner.

 

Cover/Header Photos

Who did it first? Google+ has allowed users to upload cover photos since it launched in 2011. Facebook weren't far behind, rolling out the cover photo in September of the same year. Either way, it certainly wasn't Twitter's idea.

Who else is doing it? Yep, that little blue bird and its evil overlords can take just as good as they give. Roughly one year after Facebook first allowed its users to add cover photos, Twitter starting doing more or less the exact same thing.

More recently, Twitter's layout was radically changed, putting a lot more focus on the cover photo (or 'header photo', as Twitter would have you call it). This was met with a lot of criticism - wasn't Twitter supposed to be about fitting everything into 140 characters? Why the sudden focus on adding images?

 

Dragging & Dropping

Who did it first? Again, we're pretty sure that Google+ can claim the bragging rights here. A lot of people were reluctant to embrace The Big G's social network when it first materialised online, but if there's one thing that won people over (including the Designer Websites team), it's the site's superbly sleek functionality, epitomised by the way in which you can simply drag images and other items straight into your posts.

Who else is doing it? Almost everybody, although we certainly aren't complaining about this one. You can now drag and drop images into tweets and Facebook updates, just as you can with G+ posts, and it's miles better for everyone (although the functionality is still a little clunky on FB). Now, if only LinkedIn would let us do this as well...

What do you think? Are all social networks too similar nowadays? Should they be sticking to what they each do best? Or are you enjoying all of these changes and new features?

Let us know on Twitter...or Facebook...or Google Plus.