Think Thoughts

Pics or It Didn’t Happen

October 30, 2013

I don’t think I’ll be shattering any worlds here when I say that we are one picture crazy society. Instagram topped 150 million active users last month, Pinterest is the third most popular social media site after Facebook and Twitter, and you definitely can’t log in for your daily dose of Facebook without seeing the contents of nearly everyone’s camera phone. We’re not just sharing out major life milestones anymore, we’re sharing our breakfasts, our pets, and in the case of one person on my feed this morning, our FedEx receipts. In exchange we get positive feedback — likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc. — that tells us that the world really wants to see what we’re seeing.

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And the thing is: it’s true. Social media experts all agree that in our data-at-the-speed-of-thought society, pictures capture attention in a way nothing else can. People waiting in line at the grocery store, or sneaking a few minutes of social media time between tasks don’t have time to read a lengthy, all-text post, but a picture is still worth 1,000 words (or 140 characters).

So we should all rejoice that, at long last, Twitter has finally gone visual. In the past, Twitter has always been resistant to proposed changes of the timeline, veering toward a streamlined display rather than a bombardment of information, but the success of picture comments on Facebook and the potential for increased ad sales have prompted the 140-or-less behemoth to spice it up.

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Yesterday, Michael Sippey, Twitter’s vice president for product, wrote in a blog post, “…timelines on Twitter will be more visual and more engaging: previews of Twitter photos and videos from Vine will be front and center in Tweets.” Personally, I’m pretty pumped about the change (although I did wake up to an extreme close up of Jay Z’s lips, which was a little surprising), but an article called, “How to Turn Off Twitter’s New Photo Preview Feature,” on Mashable already has more than 1,300 shares.