Are Twitter Cards really so limited or have we misunderstood?


#1

We’ve setup and have working a twitter feed using the API. No real problems getting it working and we are sending regular traffic updates to our followers with no real problems. We generate and upload a new traffic image every few minutes and it works well.

Our issue is that the users have to click through the Tweet to get an expanded view and THEN click again on the URL to get to the detail on our website. That at least one click too many. You can see the issue here

So we looked at Twitter Cards, worked through the API and got those working or at least we thought we had. We then discovered that:

  1. Most (all?) third party Twitter Clients don’t support Twitter Cards at all and simply display a URL and thats it.

  2. The IOS and Android Twitter clients expand the Twitter Card by default. The web based Twitter Client doesn’t expand. This appears to be by design. I am unclear as to what research Twitter have done that says presenting a URL to the user rather than expanding a URL is actually a better user experience.

  3. It appears that the only way to get a Twitter Card expanded in the timeline is to pay for it to be promoted, but that doesn’t appear to be stated anywhere.

  4. We cannot see any way to have a Tweet have a number of fallbacks for different clients. e.g. If displayed on an IOS Twitter client, the Twitter Card is displayed, if on a 3rd party client then the card is ignored and a tweet and an attached image is displayed. We may have missed a page showing how to do this.

Our view is that Twitter Cards are actually pretty pointless unless you use an official Twitter Client AND pay for the Tweets to be promoted. Otherwise all you get is worse than a normal Tweet in that all the user sees is a URL and thats it. If you add pictures and stuff like that to try and make the user experience ‘richer’ the Twitter Cards seem to stop working.

We cannot believe this is what Twitter think so we must be missing something important here. Surely Twitter Cards are more use than this? They look great but are so limited that its not worth doing as they will not work in many cases.

Any advice welcomed as we’re struggling to see the value of Twitter Cards,

Rob


#2

Hi Rob, thanks for your post and questions.

Firstly, it is important to note that there are broadly two categories of Twitter Cards right now - the ones driven by metadata embedded on a website as described on our Developer site, and several other types (website, lead generation, etc) which are more interactive, and form part of our Ads platform. The latter type of Cards are, ultimately, paid products as part of a campaign, but there’s no need to pay to use the former type of Cards.

You’re right that there’s no way at the moment for third-party clients to access or display Card data. Only Twitter’s official apps are able to do so.

We’re constantly looking at ways to improve the Cards experience. Over the past year, for example, we have withdrawn some of the more complicated and less-used Card types (product etc) and focused our attention on the others. We’ve also moved from only showing Cards in Tweet Detail views, to displaying them natively in the timeline on iOS and Android client, which we agree is a better experience. Under the covers, we also rebuilt the Cards technology so that they display natively inside the mobile apps, resulting in much better performance.

At the moment, some people workaround the fact that Cards are not displayed by default on the web by attaching an image to their Tweet. This will lead to the image being displayed, since Tweets only support the display of one form of “media” (images vs Cards) and this takes priority.

We have been working on the web side of things, but at the moment the only way to see a Card on the web is to click into the Detail view. That said, the new embedded timelines launched 2 weeks ago now also support display of Cards, and we’ve been running experiments with enabling them in the web timeline in future.

Apologies that you’ve not seen the value so far - we think the dev Cards are simple to implement, and we’re continuing to advance how they display and work with our products. FWIW, I really like the way you display a snapshot of the traffic disruption in your summary Cards.


#3

Thanks for the reply.

We are/were using the Summary cards with large images. We generate a unique HTML page per card which is pretty simple and easy to do for us as we control all the workflow. Since the HTML page is small its easy to create a new and unique one for Twitter Card we wish to create. The meta tags are created as part of this page.

Our understanding is the Summary Card with Large Image is free.

We understand the issues with lack of 3rd party support for Twiiter Cards, if Twitter wants to keep this technology to differentiate itself from 3rd party clients, however our view is that there needs to be a way for 3rd clients to ‘gracefully fail’ from Twitter Cards through to more basic Tweets. You mention attaching an image to the Twitter Tweet which we have already tried. The image is displayed but we end up with just the image and a URL in the Twitter IOS client and on the Web. It seems to us that the act of putting a media image and/or text in the tweet along with the URL to the web page containing the correct Meta tags, stops Twitter Cards working at all and we never see the Twitter Card. If this is wrong and it should work please let us know as we explicitly built and tested code for this type of upload.

We seem to have a very inconsistent and I have to say poor user experience amongst the different ‘official’ Twitter clients on Mac, Web, IOS and Android. The IOS Twitter Card displays very little text in comparison to a simple Tweet with an attached image, the Mac client requires you to click on the Tweet in the timeline to get it to expand (the less said about the Mac client the better), TweetDeck on the Mac seems to struggle to display the Twitter Card at all. The web interface requires us to click on the Tweet to get the Twitter Card (this is so annoying).

We would love to use a Twitter Card that is consistent across all the clients. However all the clients we use, appear to be at very different stages of maturity and have different behaviour. We understand that clients development moves on at different paces (we are developers ourselves) but we need consistency OR the ability for Tweets to fall back displaying different levels of information depending on the client, e.g. if Twitter Cards cannot be displayed then fallback to a Tweet and an Image, then fall back to Tweet and a URL and then fall back to a URL.

We cannot see any way to do this and since a proportion of our clients use 3rd party clients (nothing I can do about that) we have to work to the common denominator that provides a reasonable user experience which is not to use the Twitter Cards but to send a Tweet with an Image which works across all clients but has the downside of requiring people to do more clicks to get to our website which means we lose traffic. We love the idea of a single click on a Twitter Card going straight to the web page and would be happy to pay an appropriate amount for that functionality across ALL (1st party and 3rd party) clients. Thats the way we want Twitter to work for us.

Since we cannot have Twitter Cards across enough clients (including Twitters own) AND we have no fallback method (that we know about) that works consistently across these clients then we cannot see any other option than to stay with the current Tweets which work but aren’t driving the traffic we would like.

Apologies if I have misrepresented anything here and what we need to do is obvious (if not to us), the team has burnt the best part of a week exploring options, writing code uploading its testing it, and we believe we have tried most options. We have read most of the forum posts “just-in-case” somebody had mentioned a solution but we can’t see how to use Twitter Cards and provide a rich and consistent user interface to our clients.

I’d be interested in your views and if we have missed a simple and obvious solution, would be delighted to be proven wholly wrong :slight_smile:

Best wishes,

Rob


#4

You’ve done a pretty good job of summarising the way that the cards work in those cases. Cards are an evolving platform, and as my colleague @joncipriano mentions in another thread, we’re experimenting with the best options for display across our clients at the moment. There’s currently no way for third party clients to display cards.

We definitely hear all of this feedback (and continuously listen for developers’ views as well as experimenting with improvements), so appreciate the effort you’ve gone to in describing what you’d like for the future - I’ll pass it back to the Cards team.