Twitter Image Sizing: Best Practices for In-Stream Images

You’ve probably noticed more and more images showing up in your Twitter stream. Ever since Twitter added image previews to the stream last fall, users and brands have taken advantage of the opportunity to make the Twitter experience more visual.

I was curious about how to avoid images being cropped incorrectly in the Twitter stream (like this one below).  I see this all over Twitter so it’s a relatively new trick that not everyone has figured out yet. Turns out, the solution is quite simple.

twitter images cut off head

According to what I found, Twitter tends to cut a square image or vertical image across the center of the image, although some reports say it can be totally random where it gets cut. That can still be okay, depending on the image. For example this one came out fine, even though the original image is nearly square:

twitter image square

Rectangular (landscape) images will do best, since the in-stream preview is a rectangular landscape.  Like this one:

cows

The IDEAL image dimensions for the image preview, according to Twitter, is 1024×512. But if your images aren’t that large, any 2:1 ratio is a good second choice. So, before posting your image to Twitter, simply crop it to a rectangular shape in a 2:1 ratio. An easy (and free) tool to crop and resize images for this purpose is PicMonkey.

Feedly and Buffer: The Content Sharing Dream Team

feedly2shadowI’m an avid content-sharer on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I think reading, curating and sharing fresh, relevant content is one of the best ways to establish yourself as a resource and thought leader in your field of work.

Content sharing, when done well, takes time. Automation tools can help make the process more efficient. However, not all automation tools are alike. For example, some Twitter users use Tweetreach to automate content sharing. However, tools like Tweetreach auto-tweet ALL of the articles posted from a particular RSS feed.

That’s not curation, that’s broadcasting.

I prefer to curate content — share the best articles and posts that I come across and give a little commentary as to why I am sharing it. It’s a bit more labor intensive than pure automation, but as a Twitter user, I certainly know what I prefer to see in my stream.

I read, curate and share content using two tools: Feedly (to aggregate and read the content) and Buffer (to schedule it).

Let’s talk about the two different tools, and then I will explain the (simple) process I use to curate and share content.

Feedly

I use Feedly as my RSS reader. Why do you need an RSS reader? Because it’s a central source for all of your news. Rather than bouncing from one site to another, all of your content sources are fed into one place. Feedly is free and simple to use, and includes Buffer integration (which I’ll discuss later in this post). If you already have a Google account, you can sign up for Feedly in one click.

A glance at my reader. I prefer the text format, but you can choose a more visual format.

A glance at the Social Media topic folder in my Feedly reader. I prefer the text format, but you can choose a more visual format.

Once you have your Feedly account set up, it will prompt you to start adding feeds to your reader. You can do this in a few different ways. Search inside Feedly for topics of interest or specific names of news sources. For example, you can do a general search for “social media” or a specific search for a site like “Mashable”. Sometimes larger sites have multiple feeds (for example The New York Times or Huffington Post) – you can choose the specific feeds that appeal to you. I would suggest getting specific as possible when adding feeds to Feedly. Your list of news sources can quickly become enormous and then it’s difficult to find content that you want to read and share.

Searching for feeds.

Searching for feeds.

Another way to add feeds to Feedly is to add them while you are browsing the web. If you’re a Google Chrome user, you can get a great Chrome extension that creates an “Add to Feedly” button on your browser. Then when you visit a website, simply click this button and you can add any feeds from that site to your Feedly account.

You’ll notice when you start adding feeds that Feedly allows you to set up folders to organize your feeds. Please do this. Think of it like a newspaper. Sometimes you only want to read the sports section or the local news.

Buffer

Buffer is a free tool that allows you to schedule Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn posts. What makes it different (and better) than a traditional scheduling tool is that it acts as a drip-mechanism of sorts. You simple fill up your Buffer with posts, and it “drips” them to your social media account(s) throughout the day on a schedule you set up. So rather than sharing six articles all at once when I’m reading my RSS feed at 9:00am, I can use Buffer to tweet those six articles throughout the day.

You can sign up for a Buffer account through Twitter or Facebook, or create a traditional account using an email address. Then you connect the Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn accounts for which you would like to create a buffer. You can set up multiple accounts and either toggle between them or post to them simultaneously. I only use Buffer for my Twitter account, but I have used it for my clients’ Facebook accounts as well.

Next step — set up the time(s) of day you want your Buffer to “drip”. I have my Buffer dripping six times per day, about every couple of hours. Others do more or less. Depends on your personal preference.

Once you have everything set up, the Buffer dashboard allows you to create posts from scratch, see what posts are in your Buffer, change their order and even edit them after the fact. You can also schedule your posts to go up at particular days/times rather than the next Buffer time. This is nice for time-sensitive posts, such as holidays or special events. But keep in mind that your Buffer will keep going along with the scheduled post (i.e. it doesn’t replace one of your Buffer posts, so don’t schedule it at or near the same time as a Buffer post).

A snapshot of today's Buffer. My next post "drips" at 11:08 am.

A snapshot of today’s Buffer. My next post “drips” at 11:08 am.

My Content Sharing Process

Every morning, I open my Feedly RSS reader and browse the feeds as you would do a newspaper. I read the post titles to find articles that interest me, and then either skim or read the posts themselves.

When I find something share-worthy, I simple press the Buffer button at the top of the article in Feedly. Buffer and Feedly are integrated tools, which means the Buffer button appears right inside Feedly at the top of every post.

The Buffer button inside Feedly.

The Buffer button inside Feedly.

This button auto-generates a tweet with the post title and shortened link to the full post. Then I edit the auto-tweet to add my commentary. I press “Buffer”, and then off it flies into my pile of buffered tweets, that will “drip” throughout the day. You can also post the article to Facebook or LinkedIn using the same process.

Clicking the Buffer button auto-generates your post inside Feedly.

Clicking the Buffer button auto-generates your post inside Feedly.

Some people scoff at automation and scheduling tools, saying they take the “social” out of social media. Ideally, content sharing should happen in real time. But for many people, that approach isn’t efficient, or realistic. Using the Feedly-Buffer dream team you can take the time suck out of content sharing.

 

Tagging a Facebook Page to Increase Post Visibility? It’s Unreliable at Best

megaphoneIf you’re a Facebook page administrator, you’ve probably tried tagging other pages in your posts. This method is often referred to as @ tagging, and it involves using the @ symbol in a Facebook status update, which triggers a drop down menu from which you can select another Facebook page name.

Many page admins use @ tagging in an attempt to increase the reach and/or visibility of the post. They hope that by @ tagging another brand’s page (typically a larger brand), the brand will be notified about their post and share it, make a comment or just realize that they exist.

But recently I realized that this strategy is unreliable, for this reason:

Pages are not consistently notified when they are tagged by other pages.

My own Facebook business page is never notified of tags. Perhaps Facebook doesn’t deem my page worthy of this feature? I figured this out when I was scrolling through the timeline of a friend’s brand page and saw that she had tagged my page in one of her posts. But I had received no notification of this. Nothing on my timeline in Recent Posts by Others, nothing in my page’s Activity Log, no email, nothing. And my page settings are completely open to other posts and tags. I scrolled down and saw that she had tagged my page in several posts over the past few months. I never would have known.

However, on other pages, I’ve noticed inconsistencies. I manage some client pages where we will @ tag a page but it never appears on the tagged page. But at the same time, I’ve observed pages where their Recent Posts by Others sections are full of tagged posts from other pages.  I posted a question about this phenomenon to a group of blogger friends who manage Facebook pages and only one of them could find an example of where their page had been notified of an @ tag. I’d love to hear about your own experience with this in the comments.

Here’s the takeaway:  Your page post doesn’t always get increased visibility when you tag another page. Because the other page often is not notified of the tag.

Second takeaway: Facebook is annoyingly inconsistent.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to use @ tagging. Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith wrote an excellent post on tagging etiquette back in 2011. She says some appropriate uses for @ tagging include acknowledgement, attribution or appreciation for other pages, and to help promote other pages (since the tag creates an easy click through for fans).

[Note that in the post she mentions "give careful consideration as to a) how your post will come across on someone else’s profile or page wall" (emphasis mine) which seems to imply that at one time, Facebook did consistently display tagged posts on page walls.]

I’d love to hear about your experience with your own Facebook page. Are you notified when your page is tagged by other pages? Have posts where you use @ tagging appear on other pages’ walls?

photo credit: piermario via photopin cc

 

How to Schedule Facebook Posts [Facebook Marketing Basics Series]

how to schedule a postHere’s a basic tutorial on how to schedule Facebook posts to your business page using Facebook.com.

Many page admins, especially beginners, don’t even realize they can schedule posts directly from Facebook.com. Scheduling your Facebook posts in advance is a nice time-saver. It’s especially helpful for those who want to schedule a week’s worth of posts in one day, or wish to schedule posts during a vacation, weekend or holiday.

How do I schedule a post? Where’s the schedule button?

Scheduling Facebook posts is super easy, once you locate the scheduling button. Facebook does a nice job of hiding it. The trick to finding the scheduling button is that you need to navigate to your Facebook page and then click into the status update window. When you do so, a little clock button will appear in the lower left corner. Believe me, you’re not alone if you’ve either 1) never noticed the button, or 2) noticed it but had no idea what it was.

scheduling button

Once you figure out where the button is and click on it, Facebook walks you through the rest of the process step-by-step.

Here’s a quick video tutorial of the process.

Quick note: You can click on the scheduling button before authoring your post. Just don’t click “Schedule” until the post is ready.

As I demonstrated in the video tutorial, all of your scheduled posts appear in your page’s Activity Log, where you can view, edit or delete them as needed. To find your Activity Log, just visit your Facebook page and click Edit Page > Use Activity Log.

edit page arrow

Why not use an application like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule Facebook posts?

You can, if you want to. Third party tools (tools not owned by Facebook) such as Buffer, Hootsuite or Sprout Social can help you schedule posts more efficiently if you want the posts to go up at the same time each day. Instead of scheduling each post individually, you simply set the time you want posts to go up each day and fill the “hopper” with posts. But those who aren’t comfortable using a third party application, (or those who, like me, are not convinced Facebook doesn’t penalize third party applications) the process for scheduling a post on Facebook.com is very simple and a great option for page administrators.

Read more in the Facebook Marketing Basics Series: What is Facebook EdgeRank and Reach?

What is Facebook EdgeRank and Reach? [Facebook Marketing Basics Series]

This is the first in the Facebook Marketing Basics Series for beginning Facebook marketers.

What is Facebook EdgeRank?

EdgeRank is the algorithm that Facebook uses to decide what posts appear on Facebook users’ walls (also known as the “news feed”). edgerank and reachOnly a small percentage of the posts from users’ Facebook friends or brand pages users “Like” will actually appear in their news feed. This percentage can vary, and can be increased when friends or brand pages post more of that Facebook considers to be “engaging” content — content that gets lots of Likes, Shares and Comments.

Here’s a more detailed explanation of EdgeRank:

Facebook EdgeRank is comprised of three parts: Affinity, Weight and Time Decay.

Affinity: Facebook determines the relationship between you and the person posting. If that relationship is close (say, a close friend or family member OR a brand with whom you interact frequently) those posts score higher for Affinity and they are more likely to appear on your wall.

Weight: Facebook ranks certain types of posts higher than others. For example, Facebook tends to rank Photo posts higher than links. I’ll talk about this more below.

Time Decay: The older the post, the less likely it is to appear on your wall. This keeps your news feed looking up-to-date with the latest news.

Why is EdgeRank Important to Marketers?

Because the news feed is where most of your fans will see your content. 96% of fans will not return to your Facebook Page after Liking it. That’s right! The vast majority of their interaction with your brand and the things that you post to your page will be in their Facebook news feed.

So making sure your posts appear on your fans’ news feeds is critical to your success on Facebook. (Although it’s also a good idea to make sure users can find your Facebook Page in the first place, and that it looks attractive enough for them to Like.)

Posts that get the most likes, shares and comments. Via Dan Zarella of HubSpot.

Posts that get the most likes, shares and comments. Via Dan Zarella of HubSpot.

The Best Ways to Maximize EdgeRank

Should EdgeRank dictate how you post to Facebook? Not really. Attempts to “game the system” are generally exercises in frustration. However there are a few guidelines for posting that will help you improve the chances that your posts will appear in your Fan’s newsfeeds.

They are:

1. Post a variety of content.

2. Post photos and status updates more frequently than links.

3. Post frequently. At least once a day, if possible, with 4 hours minimum between each post.

What Does “Reach” Mean?

One way that Facebook lets you know if your posts are appearing on your fan’s walls is by sharing the “Reach” number at the bottom of each post. This number is visible to Page Managers only.

Facebook defines Reach as ‘the number of people who have seen your post in the first 28 days after a post’s publication [on both desktop and mobile]‘.  ‘…Your post counts as having reached someone when it is loaded and shown in News Feed’.

In plain English that means, the number of people who saw your post in their news feed (wall).

As I mentioned in the previous section, this number is typically a small to medium percentage of your fan base. Two ways to increase your post’s reach are:

1. Post engaging content — when your fans Like, Share or Comment on your post, their friends are more likely to see it on their news feeds. Here’s an oldie-but-goodie post from my blog with some unique engagement ideas to try. Another engagement strategy is to run a Facebook contest.

2. Click on the “Boost Post” button (on some pages, this is called “Promote Post”) and pay to have your post reach more people. Yes, this costs money and shouldn’t be done lightly. Jay Baer gives some excellent advice on when to promote a Facebook post.

UPDATE August 2013: Facebook has made some changes to its newsfeed algorithm, including not calling it EdgeRank anymore. However, this post and the definition of the algorithm still applies. “The three primary EdgeRank factors — Affinity, Weight and Time Decay — are still important pieces of what is today a much more complicated News Feed ranking algorithm.” -Lars Backstrom, Facebook.

In other words, continue posting the most engaging content you can come up with. Read more about changes to the News Feed ranking algorithm.

Read more posts in the Facebook Marketing Basics Series: How to Schedule Facebook Posts.