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.
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:
Rectangular (landscape) images will do best, since the in-stream preview is a rectangular landscape. Like this one:
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.
Today my friend and former colleague Nancy Holtzman from Isis Parenting asked me for some advice on navigating a blogger conference when you’re a marketer. She’s attending the Blissdom blogging conference with her marketing hat on, hoping to make some connections on behalf of her (fabulous) brand. (She’s a blogger too, and a Twitter fanatic to boot.)
I know first-hand that it can be a little awkward to attend a blogging conference when you’re a brand/blogger/marketer/notsurewhatIam. Overall, mom blogging conferences like Blissdom, Mom 2.0 and BlogHer are fantastic places to learn and network on behalf of your brand. And you are absolutely not alone. Brands, PR reps, mompreneurs, book authors and other brand/blogger morphs abound at blogging conferences.
Here are some of the tips I shared with Nancy:
1. Unless you are a conference sponsor, don’t hand out company literature, brochures, or swag items like hats, t-shirts or pens (okay, maybe one pen is fine, but only if someone asks for one). This is called “suitcasing” and it’s against the rules. Don’t leave any of that stuff on the tables either. It’s not cool, looks bad for your brand and it could get you kicked out of the conference.
2. Bring lots of business cards. A ton. A whole box. Hand one to everyone you meet. Deal them out like playing cards at every table. Don’t be shy. This is the the acceptable, legitimate way to share your contact information.
3. Come up with a filing system for the cards that you collect. Some people bring zipper pouches, binders, or those cute little boxes from Moo. Did you meet someone you absolutely positively need to follow-up with? Jot a note on their card and set it aside in a special spot. Collecting a card just to be polite? Set aside a catch-all area for those cards so they don’t dilute your pile of important contacts. [Bonus tip: Once you’ve amassed a pile of business cards, use a business card scanning app for your smartphone to scan all of that contact info into your address book.]
4. Tweet sparingly from your company account. Mom blogging conference attendees use Twitter like a text messaging platform. It’s easy and fun to connect with fellow attendees with the conference hashtag, and you’ll find yourself using Twitter to ask a friend to meet you by the elevator after the morning keynote. Try not to clutter your company twitter feed with conference tweets – instead, use a personal Twitter account. Make sure your personal Twitter bio mentions your position at the company and the company’s Twitter handle. That will help you maximize Twitter networking while not alienating your company’s fans (most of whom will have no idea what the conference tag/chatter is all about).
5. Restrain yourself in the expo area. You’re human, so when you get a load of the conference swag at mom blogging conferences, you’re gonna want a piece of that. Who wouldn’t? But restrain yourself. Walking out of the expo area with an armful of vibrators might not be a great idea. Conference sponsors pay big money to shower products on influential mom bloggers, not fellow marketers. And whatever you do, don’t share your business cards with sponsors in the expo area. Doing so will put you on the email list of dozens of PR firms, from which your inbox may never recover.
6. Follow-up after the conference with personal messages. For your most valuable contacts, individual personal emails is the best way to follow up. Refer to a conversation you had, or a session you both attended. Your personal message will stand out amongst the dozens of canned “Dear Blogger” emails that will surely fill her inbox post-conference.
Any other tips to share with marketers attending blogging conferences? Share them in the comments.
When Twitter bought TweetDeck back in 2011, they introduced a stripped-down version of the feature-rich desktop Twitter client that can only be described as an incredible disappointment.
As a result, many power Twitter users clung to the original version of TweetDeck, powered by Adobe AIR, despite the fact that it was no longer being updated. Like a vintage automobile, it had it’s dings and quirks, but when you sit in the well-worn seat, it felt like home.
Immediately loyal TweetDeck AIR holdouts like myself began looking for desktop twitter client alternatives that could come close to the “old” TweetDeck experience. I test drove three of them for the past week — TweetDeck by Twitter, HootSuite for Chrome and MetroTwit — and here are my thoughts on each. [UPDATE: Added Janetter as a fourth option.]
More functionality than when it was first introduced–definitely worth a new look if you haven’t tried it since then.
Excellent search feature.
Easy to navigate columns and change their order using the columns selector on the left sidebar. Just drag and drop to reorder.
[UPDATE: DMs and other alerts such as new followers and RT notifications seem to come in faster than on other 3rd party applications.]
Since it’s owned by Twitter, it’s likely to stick around for a while and get continuous updates.
Real estate is generous – 4 columns visible with a peek at a 5th, but individual tweets take up a lot of space. [UPDATE: Up to five full columns are now visible with recent redesigns, and settings allow you to adjust font and column size to your liking. The screenshot above has font set to “small” and column width set to “medium” on my widescreen laptop.]
Too many clicks! Authoring a new tweet requires a button click vs. being permanently open on the interface, tweeting requires a click vs. pressing the enter key, and other common functions require multiple clicks (for example, RT with comment). [UPDATE: A TweetDeck developer read this post and alerted me to keyboard shortcuts – a lifesaver! Now I simply press N to author a new tweet. Press shift-? for the full list.]
Pressing enter does not send your tweet (because Twitter supports line breaks now). Still drives me nuts. Press control- or command- enter to send your tweet, or click the button.
Tweet feed can be a little choppy [UPDATE: I’m finding it smoother now. However I still miss a refresh button because it can hang up occasionally.]
Outgoing DMs show avatars for the message recipients rather than the sender (you) which can be confusing.
A click on someone’s username shows their profile but not their recent tweets.
Supports Twitter only (TweetDeck discontinued Facebook integration)
HootSuite for Chrome (Chrome App Bookmarked to Desktop)
Compact interface allows you to view more tweets on your desktop at once than the other two options, but only 4 columns are visible.
Author new tweet box permanently open at the top of the interface.
Supports Twitter, Facebook and many other social accounts, including Google +, LinkedIn and Foursquare.
Powerful analytics features.
Tweet feed is choppy and pauses frequently. If you minimize the app and then return, the feed has stopped where you left off and you need to manually scroll up the feed with a click. (Hootsuite calls them “unread messages”.)
Large numbers of missed tweets are skipped and compacted together (can be expanded with a click).
Runs very smoothly (I’m running it on Windows 7) [UPDATE: Still runs smoothly, when it runs, but it’s been buggy. See below.]
Author new tweet box permanently open at the bottom of the interface, however the oversized character countdown ticker can be distracting.
Clicking username opens a large window displaying the user’s profile and recent tweets – helpful when deciding who to follow. A click anywhere on the background screen closes the window.
Twitter commands appear when hovering over avatars, similar to TD AIR
Windows OS only (UPDATE: A new Windows 8 app was just released but does not match the desktop version’s feature set)
For Twitter only (does not support Facebook or other social accounts)
Free version is limited to one account and is ad supported (ad looks like a sponsored tweet, you can choose which column it appears in, as long as that column is visible) Pro version allows multiple accounts and gets rid of ads for a single payment of 14.95 AUS, which is just over 15 US dollars.
Some wasted real estate on the left hand side forces narrower columns
UPDATE: Unfortunately, over the past month I’ve noticed that MetroTwit is rather buggy. My @mentions column wouldn’t load on more than one occasion. My DMs don’t always come in right away. And my notifications are almost never accurate. For example, “Activities” is supposed to show new followers. It indicates I’ve had 4 new followers in the past two weeks, but that number is actually around 80.
[UPDATE: I’m adding Janetter to this post. It was recommended in the comments so I gave it a test drive as a fourth option.]
Comes closest to TweetDeck AIR’s feature set and overall experience.
Supports multiple Twitter accounts.
Author new tweet box permanently open at the top of the interface (can switch it to the bottom in settings).
Navigate multiple columns with ease via the buttons at the bottom (no need to scroll across), and move/reorganize columns by dragging and dropping the buttons – Janetter is great for those who like to use lots of columns.
Interface very customizable, lots of settings (maybe too many?)
Multiple themes that you can apply to change the look of the application (vs. just “light” and “dark” as most others offer).
Tweets show image previews and conversation threads (which can be overwhelming, see below).
Interface is very busy, to nearly an overwhelming degree – Janetter crams so much information into each individual tweet in such tiny print you really need to play with the settings to make it somewhat tolerable.
Clicking on usernames shows profile, but you need to click another tab to see recent tweets.
Does not support Facebook or other social networks.
As with any third party app, I hope it sticks around and keeps getting updates.
Which gets my top recommendation? I wish there was a clear winner. For me, it comes down to what features are most important to me, and what my dealbreakers are. For example, the pausing Hootsuite tweet stream is a dealbreaker. (Am I missing a setting somewhere? [UPDATE: Nope. A live stream has been a requested feature on Hootsuite since 2010, but Hootsuite has not added it.]) For me, missed tweets are not “unread messages” as Hootsuite calls them – I’m following over 1,000 people and have neither the time or the desire to read my whole feed. Which is too bad because Hootsuite is so feature-rich and well designed.
So right now, for me, it’s a tie between “new” TweetDeck and MetroTwit. Clearly if you don’t have a Windows machine, MetroTwit isn’t going to be an option. But I do, and I like the interface and smooth operation. Surprisingly, the ad (there’s only one) doesn’t really bother me and I only use my Twitter client for my single Twitter account, so MetroTwit is a real contender. However, TweetDeck does a better job with real estate (more tweets are visible), runs smooth enough for me and no ads. I can add another account if I want. But the extra clicks for common activities and the fact that the window to write a new tweet isn’t always open drives me a little nutty. So I’ll be bouncing back and forth between the two over the next few weeks to see what I prefer. [UPDATE: 6 weeks later, I’m now tied between new TweetDeck and Janetter. MetroTwit has a less crowded interface that I prefer, but it’s been very buggy. I’ve warmed up to new TweetDeck since discovering the keyboard shortcuts.]
If you were a happy TweetDeck AIR user, what have you chosen as a replacement?
It’s the beginning of 2013 and if you’re like me, you’re starting to tackle both personal and professional new year’s resolutions. And although many argue that the new year is arbitrary — that we should be continuously striving to do better, no matter what day it is — I like January 1st as a purposeful starting point for improving yourself at home and at work.
No matter what you resolve to do better in 2013, useful resources abound to help you make good on your business-related new year’s pledges.
Check out the following handy resources if your professional new year’s resolution is to:
Time Management Ninja is one of my favorite organization blogs. They have a nice compilation of their best posts on the Best of TMN page. They (like me) are huge fans of Evernote – the omniplatform app that lets you grab and organize information and content across all of your devices. For example, I used the Evernote web clipper to grab the Fast Company book list, and then pulled it up on my Evernote iPhone app when I was at the bookstore. Instant access to the list when I needed it.
I’m a huge fan of the value of in-person networking at events and conferences. Eventbrite is a great resource for finding in-person networking events, classes and conferences. If online networking is your goal, Twitter chats are a great place to connect with other professionals. If you are a marketer like me, I like this compilation of marketing Twitter chats from the folks at Raven Tools. To find chats on other topics– and there’s a chat on just about every topic these days– check out this exhaustive list of Tweetchats by day of the week. It’s also worth searching for networking groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and now Google Plus.
Write more (and better)
Whether your goal be professional writing, blogging or creative writing, help abounds to rev up or refine your writing mojo. I’ve recently discovered the writing blog Write to Done, which covers a nice scope of topics related to writing technique, motivation, inspiration and promotion. For bloggers, Problogger’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is now a classic reference for launching or relaunching a blog. To keep yourself motivated through the month-long process, assemble a group of blogging friends and do it together.
I don’t know too many brands who don’t schedule their Twitter messages to some degree. Unless companies have a social media team glued to their keyboards 24/7, scheduling tweets on Twitter is a reality for most. And it’s a generally accepted practice – when done well and sparingly, followers often can’t even tell the difference between scheduled and live tweets.
Until a major event occurs that temporarily consumes the Twitterverse. Like a hurricane. Or a presidential election. When everyone is talking about that Big Thing, your scheduled tweet sticks out. Looks… contrived.
And you look like you’re either unaware or don’t care about the Big Thing.
And that looks bad for your brand.
This tweet went out last night at 11pm Eastern to this brand’s 361,000 followers, approximately 15 minutes before Barack Obama was projected winner of the U.S. Presidential election.
Let’s just say most people were not tweeting about makeup at that moment.
What’s most frustrating about “sore thumb” type twitter scheduling is how incredibly easy it is to fix. There’s really no excuse for this out-of-place messaging. Look at the calendar and refine your scheduling for major holidays and national events. If you can’t plan ahead, simply press pause on your scheduling tool. Click. Done.
So the next time Twitter is on fire with matters of national importance, turn off your scheduler and either engage authentically or say nothing at all. I promise you can get back to business tomorrow.
photo credit: wenzday01 via photopincc