“No bird too tall, no crop too short.”
Full-sized picture previews have been introduced as a new feature on Twitter. In other words, the platform will no longer crop images that you tweet. We’ve known for a few months that this change was being tested, and now it is widely available.
Many are cheering, as it solves the problem of Twitter previously cropping all non-16:9 images. Depending on how you use Twitter, switching to full-size image views might not seem like a big deal, but there are several ways in which it could have a significant impact.
Eliminating algorithmic bias
Twitter’s new system will also allow users to preview what an image looks like before it goes live on the timeline. This will likely prevent many mishaps both for users and for Twitter’s algorithm — which has been found in the past of a cropping function biased toward highlighting white faces.
“Today’s launch is a direct result of the feedback people shared with us last year that the way our algorithm cropped images wasn’t equitable,” Twitter spokesperson Lauren Alexander said. Going forward, the platform seems intent on relying less on automatic, machine learning-based image cropping.
Improving visual media on the timeline
Of course, you might be wondering how a one-size-fits-all ratio model will work. Well, super tall or wide images will still get a centered crop. Twitter says it’s working to make that better, too, and working to generally improve how all visual media gets displayed in the timeline.
All in all, this change should prevent any more illogical cutouts and alleviate the worry that a post will show only either the text on the image or the person in it.
No more clickbait surprises
So, what are the implications for marketers? Is this only good news? While reaction to the change seemed largely positive, some longtime users expressed remorse over the fact that they can no longer employ a tactic that has been a part of Twitter culture since the beginning. Baiting followers, some users would tease viewers by inviting them to “open for a surprise.” In this case, it played to their advantage that the cropped image shown in the feed differed significantly from the full image inside the message itself.
In addition to fewer surprises, there are sure to be some side effects from the change. Including:
- Users will see larger images and potentially fewer posts (more scrolling)/ Tweets.
- It will become harder to distinguish between paid content and organic content.
- Vertical videos and images will take up most of the user’s screen real estate and might strongly change how professional photographers and news outlets present their content.
As a general rule, the more screen real estate we can occupy of a user, the better. And Twitter’s goal is clearly to improve engagement as people scroll through their feeds. With this in mind, it will definitely be interesting to see the interaction rates on horizontal vs. vertical content on the platform.
Finding the sweet spot might take a bit of playing around with, but it is certainly something to try out and evaluate. In the meantime, if you’d like to stay up to date on current social media trends and growth marketing hacks, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for the latest digital marketing news.