Michelle Stinson Ross on Twitter Cards: The Basics Everyone Should Know

MichelleFor some folks Twitter Cards are as confusing as can be, so we thought we would reach out to Michelle Stinson Ross, Social Marketing Manager at Offers.com, and get some clarity. Check out the Q&A below.

Also, Michelle will be speaking at SMX Social in the “Up Close With Twitter Cards“, November 20th at 2:00pm. If you are attending be sure to check out her session and be sure to get some great ideas from her.

What are Twitter Cards, how are they used and why should businesses care?

Basically, the short answer is, Twitter cards are a multimedia value added tweet. They can be used to build email lists, drive web traffic, or facilitate app downloads. Brands and businesses need to care because the cards aid with the heavy lifting of click through.

Do businesses need a professional developer to set up Twitter Cards?

There are two different routes you can take with Twitter cards. One of them does require a little help from your webmaster to add the proper mark-ups to your web site. Before you get too deep into this option be sure to read up on the information Twitter has for developers. If you have a site that is very photo and multi-media rich, this is an option you need to seriously consider.

However, there is a DIY option within the Twitter Ads environment that doesn’t require any coding to use. These cards are great if you want to make your tweets stand out with a visual and not lose clicks to people simply expanding a photo that you shared with a tweet.

Can you explain the different kinds of cards and tell us which are your favorites?

Let’s focus on the DIY Twitter cards. Even though you have to go into the Twitter Ads platform to set these up, you don’t have to run an ad to use them.

There are 4 DIY card types currently available. I say currently, because when I first started using them, there were only 2 card types. I fully expect Twitter to continue to roll out new tools to encourage brands to use the Ad platform.  The current card types are a Lead Generation card, a Website card, and two versions of the App card, a basic App card and an Image App card.

The cards serve the functions that their names imply.

1). The Lead Gen card is set you to help you collect email sign-ups via a user’s Twitter account. It’s an easy one-click sign-up for the user and is very mobile friendly.

2). The Website card allows to you add an image, call to action button, and a fully tagged URL to your tweets. If a user clicks or taps anywhere on that tweet they will be directed to the URL embedded in the card. HELLO increased CTR.

3). The two app cards facilitate the download of apps directly to users phones.

Right now I’m all about the Website cards. My main directive is to drive traffic via social to our website and I LOVE this card for mixing up our tweet types and the improved CTR.

I also like the capabilities of the Lead Gen card. I personally haven’t used it much because when they first launched this card, it had to submit the emails collected directly to the CRM. Our proprietary CRM didn’t interface well with the system.

In reviewing this card for this interview, the new about page mentions that the list can be stored to a brand’s Twitter Ad account and downloaded at will. THIS is a far better option for my system, and I will circle back around very soon to start using this option.

Can you give us your top 5 Twitter Card Tips?

Most of these tips are specific to the Website cards, but here it goes:

1). ALWAYS used tagged URLS for your twitter cards so that the traffic they drive can be properly attributed to your efforts.

2). Get very familiar with the image size requirements for the cards. The website card must be at least 800 pixels wide and 400 high. So you will have to create compelling landscaped images for these cards.

3). Depending on the way your campaigns are set up you can edit and keep cards up to date with fresh images, copy, and links without having to create new cards over and over.

4). I highly recommend using a card when you’re paying to promote a tweet. The website cards in particular only charge when the user clicks through. If you promoted a standard photo tweet, you could be charged for clicking a link or clicking to expand the image.

5). Test, test, and test again. As I mentioned, when first rolled out the Lead Gen card was not a good fit for us. The updates are worth giving this one a shot now.

How can one measure the effectiveness of Twitter Card use?

All of the basic engagement metrics can be found in Twitter analytics both per tweet and per card. You can track CTR, favorites, RTs, and overall reach. As I said before, it’s also important to tag the URLs you’re sharing via these cards so that you can track what happens when the user clicks through and Twitter stops measuring.

True effective use of the cards will be determined by the goals you set before you launched into the use of them.

What are some creative uses of Twitter Cards that you have seen?

The really great creative cards are the more complicated developer level cards that require a little code on page to pull off. These cards pull in text and beautiful full-sized images from a blog post or serve as a media player for video and audio elements embedded on linked pages.

The advantage to theses cards is that no matter who links to that page, Twitter will pull in the multimedia elements. The engagement and amplification factors for these cards are well worth the effort to mark-up your best web pages.

What do you recommend people don’t do with Twitter Cards?

Right now, my best tip is don’t over use them. Just because you don’t have to pay to use this option doesn’t mean every tweet should be a card. Use them as an element of your overall Twitter content mix.

Do you have some resources that you recommend for those wanting to learn about Twitter Cards? 

Twitter has provided top-notch resources in both the Twitter for Business pages and the Developers pages. If your business has been assigned a Twitter Ads rep, they are excellent about walking you through EVERYTHING you need to know about any of the DIY cards. They may not update you on changes as they roll out, but will provide any answers to questions that will arise as you notice something changed.

Most of the articles I’ve read in industry type publications outside of Twitter’s own content, tend to just provide an overview and don’t delve into the depth of how to use them.

A Big Thanks to Michelle For Her Time

Michelle is a very busy lady and we really appreciate her taking the time to answer questions for us. If you have any questions or want to reach out to Michelle you can find her on Twitter @SocialMicheller.

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