How to optimize images for twitter in-stream Preview

How To Optimize Images For Twitter In-Stream Preview [50 Free Images]

Twitter recently launched several updates to improve user experience. Tweets containing pictures now show a cropped image preview directly in your Twitter streams. The platform also makes it easier for you to favourite, retweet and reply to a tweet directly within your timeline. However, these changes also give brands opportunities to be more creative in how they engage their followers.

Images are one of the most compelling and engaging content formats on the web. According to a blog post by the WebMarketing Group in the U.K, 40% of people will be more likely to respond to visual information than plain text. That’s why it’s important for brands to use Twitter’s in-stream image preview.  However, it’s not as simple as uploading more images to or re-purposing Instagram photos. In order to communicate effectively, brands should optimize their images within the in-stream preview. It’s time for marketers to learn how to communicate better via Twitter photos!

Samsung Twitter In-stream Preview Image

What you need to know to optimize photos for Twitter’s in-stream preview:

  • Images may need to be customized accordingly.

  • They should be about 440 x 220 pixels, centered and aligned vertically.

  • If the original image’s height is equal or less than ½ of the width, the preview image will be same as the image shown when the tweet is expanded.

  • Images with faces should be vertically centered, so faces are prominently featured.

  • Photo size limits are 3 MB.

  • The easiest way to optimize photos for in-stream preview is using images with 2:1 aspect ratio, and vertically centered graphics and text.

Spotify Twitter In-Stream Image Preview


  • You may want to create a private Twitter account to test preview images.

  • An image takes 26 characters away from the tweet (with 114 characters left). To optimize your tweet for more retweets, try to keep your message under 94 characters.

  • If you want to share split images, you need to make sure each image can stand on its own.

 Gap Twitter In-stream Preview Image

How to utilize Twitter’s in-stream preview

1. Treat sponsored photo tweets like the new display ad

With the new updates, sponsored tweets with images are now display ads. Brands need to pay attention to image composition to deliver key messages to consumers without forcing them to expand the tweet.

For instance, while it was a great idea for JCPenney to tweet about Veterans Day with an image half of the image unfortunately got cut off in the in-stream preview.

Let’s consider Sephora’s image composition. The key message was in the center of the photo and clearly delivered.

The in-stream preview marks a great opportunity for marketers to think outside the box. For instance, brands can run geo-targeted Twitter campaigns, incorporating images of e-coupons. Consumers who are nearby can see the coupon in their Twitter stream and redeem on-site. Brands can also use an image to promote a pop-up sale or run a scavenger hunt game on Twitter to find secret deals. Another option is asking people to create user-generated ads share on Twitter; the brand can promote some of the best entries.

2. Share stats with infographic

While most infographics are vertical, brands should start designing horizontal infographics, which are tailored for the Twitter image preview. Twitter is not Pinterest; the falling water vertical image strategy won’t work here.

Consider ShelterBox’s infographic about Typhoon Haiyan. It’s clear it was designed for

Twitter instead of a cropped version of a bigger infographic.

ShelterBox Inforgraphic optimized for twitter in-stream preview

With infographic makers like Piktochart, marketers can design a Twitter-optimized infographic within minutes without the need of a graphic designer. It’s an easy way to leverage Twitter’s new image preview and increase engagement.

3. Share picture quotes to increase engagement

According to Dan Zarrella, Social Media Scientist at Hubspot, tweets using are 94% more likely to be retweeted (click to tweet). Simply put, love quotes and photos! Last week, I did a slit test, examining the impact of a picture quote. The tweet with the image of the quote got retweeted twice as much as a normal tweet.

Elon Mush Quote without photo

Elon Mush Quote with photo optimized for instream preview

To increase the engagement of your tweets, you may want to consider adding a picture quote. To make life easier, we collaborated with photographer Mathew Hanley to give away 50 free images of retweetable quotes and backgrounds for you to share with your followers.

Download Free Images For Twitter

4. Have Fun

It’s important for a brand to use the image preview to have fun and engage with followers! If brands abuse this feature and treat images as promoted ads, consumers will quickly become blind to image previews (just like they do with display ads!).

For instance, National Geographic’s parody account, @NatGeoID, is doing a great job optimizing, and having fun, with in-stream image previews. It created a cute cat photo with two tweets, which got retweeted over 5,000 times.

National Geographic Cat In-stream Twitter Image Preview

Another great example is Asda wine ad for Twitter.

Asda - in-stream image preview

Twitter gives marketers a powerful visual tool with its new in-stream image preview. We need to understand how to optimize it and come up with creative ways to engage followers. Your brand might not be one of the first brands on Twitter, but you can certainly try to be among the first utilizing in-stream preview images to create better experiences for your followers.

Do you like Twitter’s new updates? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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CamMi Pham

Community Manager at Filemobile
I am a digital strategist by day, a blogger by night.I enjoy writing about marketing, social media, startups and lifestyle. For some more personal posts, check out my lifestyle and personal development blogs.
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