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Using Twitter cards to drive web traffic

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 12.02.22Twitter ‘cards’ are nothing new. As a user of the social network, you have most likely seen them already. They’re the little content previews that appear underneath a tweet when you click ‘View summary’ or ‘View media’ when the author has posted a link to a web URL such as a news story from The New York Times or a YouTube video. But did you know that you don’t have to own one of the most popular websites to have a Twitter card appear when someone links to your content? Like this:

Anyone with a blog or website can apply to have Twitter cards enabled for their posts or pages. You simply have to include some code in the source of the page that conforms to Twitter’s requirements, then apply for authorisation (which in most cases currently appears to be immediate). This presents a number opportunities to drive traffic from Twitter to your site, particularly as Twitter provides a few different card layouts:

  • Summary Card: Default Card, including a title, description, thumbnail, and Twitter account attribution.
  • Summary Card with Large Image: Similar to a Summary Card, but offers the ability to prominently feature an image.
  • Photo Card: A Tweet sized photo Card.
  • Gallery Card: A Tweet Card geared toward highlighting a collection of photos.
  • App Card: A Tweet Card for providing a profile of an application.
  • App Installs and Deep-Linking: An extension to any Card that provides app download and deep linking.
  • Player Card: A Tweet sized video/audio/media player Card.
  • Product Card: A Tweet Card to better represent product content.

My favourite implementation so far has been from the online fundraising site JustGiving. They use product cards to give every fundraising page a Twitter card that shows the amount raised to date, the charity being supported and a clever ‘donate’ button, like this example shows:

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 11.58.31

This, according to the site’s social and labs product managerJonathan Waddingham, “helps bring more Twitter users back to the site to donate”. Whilst JustGiving has no data showing an increase in donations pre- and post-Twitter card integration, Waddingham confirmed on Twitter that not only did the click-through rate (CTR) increase by 50% when they moved from summary cards to product cards, but that they know that tweets from Twitter buttons have twice the impact of tweets from other sources.


As more site owners implement Twitter cards, the novelty (and with it, click-through rates) will no doubt wear off. But for now, if you’re not already using Twitter cards you really ought to start thinking about what they could do for your web traffic.

The 2013 Charity Social Index


As a trustee of one of the most well-known regional children’s charities in the UK and co-founder of the UK’s first dedicated social media performance benchmarking agency, I have a double interest in the latest 2013 Charity Social Index, published today by Visceral Business. If you are operating in a marketing or digital function in a UK charity, I highly recommend that you take a look. A few things stood out for me:

  • Whilst the number of fans/followers of the top 100 charities on four main social networks has increased by an average 350% since 2011, income (I assume voluntary income) over the same period has decreased by more than a quarter.
  • Charities own websites and independent giving platforms like JustGiving are seen by both charities and consumers as far better fundraising vehicles than social media and/or SMS/text.
  • The percentage of charities saying that they don’t know who their top 10% of donors are has slightly increased over the last year, whilst the percentage saying they have an integrated approach to CRM has drastically decreased. Coincidence?
  • Just 16% of charities that have a properly developed mobile strategy, yet research suggests that over half of the UK population will be using a smartphone by the end of next year.
  • Alarmingly, almost all charities surveyed are measuring the impact of their social media activity by counting the number of fans/followers.

On the whole, I am pretty dismayed on behalf on the third sector by the findings of this research. It is pretty clear that few charities really know why they are using social media, and fewer still know what impact it is having on fundraising income. They are measuring the one thing that has a strong negative correlation with income, yet are neglecting more fundamental platforms like mobile.

So, my advice to every UK charity (for what it’s worth):

  • Stop and think for a second about why you are investing time and effort in something which clearly isn’t having any financial impact
  • Stop measuring likes/fans and followers and start thinking about more meaningful metrics that fit with your objectives (you do have some objectives for social media, right?)
  • Don’t let the novelty and excitement of social media distract you from focusing on the digital assets that really matter: your website, mobile strategy and giving platforms.