When you add a link (URL) to your tweets, Twitter will either display the link as text or it will replace the link with an automatic and interactive Twitter Card. Twitter Cards include a thumbnail image, headline and description - and are hyperlinked.
URLs from the Western News and Western Media Relations websites (and most news websites) will automatically generate Twitter Cards when you include them in tweets. It's always a good idea to preview these (Step 1a below) before you post or schedule your tweet. URLs from Cascade websites typically do not have the meta tags required to automatically create Twitter Cards, but you can manually create cards for these pages (Step 1b below).
Should you shorten your link?
No. Twitter counts all URLs as 23 characters - no matter how long or short they really are. Using URL shorteners slows down the user experience by causing them to load first your short URL, then Twitter's short URL, then the original URL, and hides your original URL from your audience - which is a suspicious behaviour often associated with phishing and other malicious intentions.
What about analytics?
Twitter Analytics provides data on link clicks without the need for third-party URL shortening.
Now, Let's Tweet Some Links.
Step 1a: Test Your Link
- Copy your link.
- Go to Twitter's Card Validator.
- Paste your link into the validator and preview the automatic Twitter Card.
- If you approve of the preview, go ahead and include the link in your tweet. (Go to Step 2)
- If improvements are needed, continue to Step 1b.
Step 1b: Create Improved Link
For this step, you will need a Twitter Ads account that has had credit card information added under Billing Settings. You will not incur any charges, and you do not need to have active or past Twitter Ad campaigns.
- Go to Twitter Ads.
- Go to the Top Menu and select the "Creatives" dropdown menu and click "Cards".
- Find the blue "Create Card" button in the top right. Click it and then select "Website Card".
- Upload your preferred graphic (1200x628 / Facebook dimensions work perfectly).
- Populate a headline and the destination URL.
- Give your card a name (internal only, but keep it polished and clear for your colleagues).
- Click "Create Card".
- Your card should now be the first card listed in the Cards Library.
- Hover over the card to reveal your options:
- If you schedule using Tweetdeck or Twitter, you can go ahead and click the Tweet icon to create and then schedule your tweet.
- If you schedule using another tool, you can click the Preview icon to see your card and to access and copy the card URL. This Twitter Card URL now replaces your original URL in your tweets.
Step 2: Schedule Your Tweet
You can follow these steps using any Twitter scheduling tool (Tweetdeck, Buffer, Hootsuite, Sprout Social).
- Open the screen/interface for writing a new tweet.
- Populate the copy for your new tweet, including any hashtags or @mentions that you'll be adding.
- At the very end of your tweet (must be last), add either your original URL or your new Twitter Card URL. Use your original URL if everything looked wonderful using Twitter's Card Validator.
- Do not attach any media (photos or videos) to your Tweet. If you do, they will take priority and your URL will turn back into text.
- Tweet or schedule however you normally would from this point on.