— Amy Nelson (@AmyPioneerPress) January 7, 2014
When Jen Westphal shared the email below with me, I quickly asked Jen and Ben Garvin, who wrote the email, if I could use it as a guest post. Ben’s Twitter bio describes him as a “Multimedia producer, photographer, photo editor, blogger at St. Paul Pioneer Press.”
I did a little editing and added some links and embeds to make this part of my #twutorial series. So here’s Ben’s advice on using photos with tweets (with tweets from Ben interspersed between the paragraphs):
In late October Twitter changed the way it shows images within your stream–images now automatically appear if they are tweeted from Twitter itself, not a third-party app. This small change has allowed for images to have much more impact and is something I think we all should be taking more advantage of!
— bengarvin (@bengarvin) January 6, 2014
Before you hit send on a tweet, ask yourself–what can I illustrate this with? A staff photo, a mugshot, a map, a screenshot of a website or headline, scene of a crime, even a selfie? Anything and everything is game. By attaching an image — any image — you immediately give your tweet a certain visual importance that will increase its reach. You will get more retweets, favorites and followers and slowly help the Pioneer Press TAKE OVER THE WORLD.
— Pioneer Press Photos (@PiPressPhotos) January 7, 2014
Keep in mind, your image need not be amazing, it simply needs to meet the high bar of mildly interesting. That said, every day the photo department produces compelling visual journalism from our community. Did we photograph something for your story? Then tweet that shizznit! Sports writers should be regularly tweeting our best photos from the games we shoot — what could be more relevant to their followers than a great (and exclusive) photo of Kevin Love dunking or Adrian Peterson scoring?
— bengarvin (@bengarvin) January 3, 2014
When you do tweet a photo don’t feel as if you need to waste character space to credit it unless you’re feeling the love (they’re always credited on our site and in the newspaper). Also, attaching a photo need not make the tweet all about the image. You can write “Kevin Love led #Twolves over Miami Heat 150-44 http://www.twincities.com/story” and then attach a photo of Love being amazing. You don’t need to say “here’s a photo of Love being amazing.” Less is more. Also, keep in mind that tweeting an image uses 23 characters so you’ll have to leave room for it.
— Kyle Potter (@kpottermn) January 5, 2014
Tweet mugshots for crime stories, maps for zoning ones. Is there a house fire in Woodbury that’s breaking? Take a screen shot of the google map of the neighborhood and tweet it. How useful and relevant is that? Don’t know how to take screenshots? Learn how or just take a photo of your screen with your phone and tweet that. Writing a weather story on the cold? Ask the photodesk to send you their best cold photo or just grab it off our site by right clicking and saving it do your desktop (the images need not be hi resolution). Or ask the photographer you were working with to send you their best picture–I will try and get in the habit of doing this.
— bengarvin (@bengarvin) January 3, 2014
For those who don’t know, we’ve started a new @PiPressphotos Twitter account and are tweeting our best photos and galleries every day (check out our stream to see the value of tweeting photos). You can also grab photos from that account (right click to desktop) for your own tweeting pleasure.
Loved the strib’s front page today. pic.twitter.com/UN3QfXVrJA
— bengarvin (@bengarvin) January 7, 2014
Most news organizations have yet to fully understand and capitalize on Twitter’s new visual world (this includes us and definitely the Strib). In my view this is a real chance to take our social media efforts to the next level. Trust me, folks will notice and appreciate your effort to provide more information in a more accessible way. If I can help in any way call or write (or tweet) to me any time.
— bengarvin (@bengarvin) January 2, 2014
Ben added another tip in a follow-up email:
Another way to generate useful images quickly, as pointed out to me by Richard Chin, is by taking a screen capture on your iPhone. If you hit the circle button and the top turny offy button simultaneously, an image of the screen you’re looking at will appear in your photos folder. You could take a screen shot of a map, a cool app you’re using, your high score in Pac Man, an annoying post someone made on Facebook, even a photo off our own site. Whatever. And when in Twitter just click the image icon and dig through your photos for your screenshot. Easy and quick with some creative potential.
Downhill unicycling? Thank you photo feature gods, you didn’t have to do that pic.twitter.com/orhcyXaRPj
— bengarvin (@bengarvin) January 5, 2014
C.J. Sinner added this bit of advice in a response to Ben’s email:
AND, if there’s something in the screenshot — phone numbers, email addresses, something else you’d want to keep private — the Twitter photo uploader has an option to crop the image. Look for the little icon in the lower right corner.
— Pioneer Press (@PioneerPress) January 8, 2014
And if you’re not one of the 4 million-plus people who have watched Ben’s “Magic Beard” video (referenced in a couple of the tweets above), well, it’s about time: