NB: This is a viewpoint from Todd Morrish, chief product officer at Bynd.
Last week, Sean O’Neill reported here on how Twitter is enabling mobile app deep-linking, and the benefit of such technology on e-commerce.
As touched on in the article, deep-linking will have a major impact on the travel industry.
Now, let’s look specifically at the family of Twitter Cards and explore some travel-specific use cases to demonstrate the benefits of these new tools.
Deep-linking within Twitter Cards
First, let’s examine the relationship between deep-linking and the Twitter cards. Deep-linking into apps is a sub-feature of the new Twitter cards.
As Twitter itself says:
"Twitter cards make it possible for you to attach media experiences to Tweets that link to your content."
There are six types of Twitter cards, each of which are covered below. These cards are essentially expanded tweets delivering more and richer content, which pack renewed punch for brands with a Twitter presence.
Deep-linking from a tweet into an app is optional with usage of the cards.
Foursquare has implemented the Twitter cards. I just used my iPhone to post a Foursquare check-in at a café here in Oakland, and I selected to post that check-in through Twitter as well.
Then I checked a friend’s Twitter app on their iPhone, saw my own tweeted check-in, clicked on the automatically-included link in the tweet (4sq.com/…), and was taken into my friend’s Foursquare app, directly to my check-in at the Oakland café. Pretty cool.
What is the benefit for travel industry?
Re-read the example above replacing Foursquare with a flash sales provider of last-minute lodging. Imagine finding in that flash sales mobile app an unbeatable deal on a last-minute room in Las Vegas.
All of your followers who have that mobile app could then link directly from your tweet into that same deal. And, if they don’t yet have the app, they would be prompted to download it.
More transaction revenue!
- Since my payment credentials are already lodged in that flash sales app, I could immediately purchase the Las Vegas hotel deal if I deep-link directly from Twitter into the deal page. This alone has major ramifications for e-commerce, particularly for the just-in-time nature of the travel industry.
- Lots of people are on Twitter that don’t have your travel app yet. When they see your users (i.e., their followers) tweeting about the deals (or content) that they’re finding on your app, you now have the opportunity to capture all of these followers as users through downloading your app. There is no question that deep-linking will increase app distribution.
- If you have an app that is useful and usable and/or filled with compelling content, you can count on the snowball effect: more app distribution via app deep-linking increases Twitter exposure, which increases app distribution, which increases Twitter exposure, etc. The net result of this snowball effect is increased brand distribution via app downloads and across social networks. We refer to this snowball effect as the "Brand Amplifier". Compounding this positive trend is the word-of-mouth network effect that comes from shares and re-tweets: Every time a follower shares or re-tweets one of your cards, the message is re-broadcasted. This should lead to more app downloads and greater brand amplification and more followers.
In this section, we’ll break down travel-specific use cases for implementing Twitter cards by each type of card. In each use case, use your imagination to replace our Bynd logo with your brand.
Also, it’s important to note that the use cases were created using Twitter’s card creation tool (validator), which means that the screenshots are web-formatted, not mobile.
If we had embedded the necessary meta tags into a Home page, for example, specifying a mobile-to-mobile link from Twitter right into my mobile app, then the screenshots would look more like this (taken from the Twitter card documentation pages):
Note the "Get the Path app" link in the mobile Twitter view on the left, which would take you directly to the Path app download page in the App Store (i.e. because Twitter can see that your iPhone doesn’t yet have that app). Now on to the Twitter cards and their use cases…
1. Product Card
The Product Card is perfectly suited to travel deals, with additional meta data elements beyond what other cards offer, like price and location.
- A package deal with a compelling price and requiring a full description and additional data.
2. Summary Card
The Summary Card allows for subtle, extended tweets that can link to your web site or into a deals app to that specific deal. A title, description, thumbnail and link. Simple and clean.
- A flash deal in a hotel with a restaurant.
3. Photo Card
The Photo Card is very similar to the Summary Card, except that this card features a larger image than the thumbnail found on the Summary Card. (Note: it looks like Twitter has removed the description parameter:value pair in just the last couple days, though their documentation still mentions it.)
- Featuring a travel product worth capturing in a large, grand image.
4. Gallery Card
Like the Photo Card, but with four slightly smaller pictures as compared to the one larger image used in the Photo Card. The utility of the Gallery Card lies in the ability to show off multiple elements of your business in one shot.
- Promoting a vacation tour and pushing users directly into our Bynd Travel Community app. In this case, the card would instruct the follower to download the app if he or she didn’t already have it.
5. App Card
The App Card is designed to be used when you want to advertise your app directly to your followers. It allows for a name, description, rating, price and an app icon. (Note: “This Card type is not yet widely available, though it should be within the next few weeks. At this time, it requires special approval.” Hence, no screenshot.)
6. Player Card
- Launching a new app, in which case followers clicking/tapping on the link in your App Card would be taken directly to that app description and download page in the Apple Store or Google Play. The App Card is also a good choice for driving downloads to existing apps.
The Player Card allows you to insert a media player into your tweets and is designed to work for video or audio or both.
Easy to implement
- Creating a video contest where the best/craziest/funniest Cancun vacation video wins an all-expenses paid week for two in Cancun; link to your YouTube channel or to your web site. Depending on how many followers you have on Twitter, use of the Player Card could pay for itself several times over in add-on bookings or word-of-mouth marketing or return customers. (Note: “This Card type is not yet widely available, though it should be within the next few weeks. At this time, it requires special approval.” Hence, no screenshot.)
Implementation of the Twitter cards is easy. According to Twitter: "Simply add a few lines of HTML to your webpages…" You can read more about implementation on Twitter’s Getting Started page.
It’s also important to note that the Twitter cards are modeled after the Facebook Open Graph protocol – if you’re using the Open Graph, then it will be even easier for you to generate Twitter cards.
Any Twitter card that you create will need to pass through Twitter’s validation process against the key URL fields – this is Twitter’s way of ensuring that you’re not gaming Twitter’s ecosystem.
Furthermore, use of two of the Twitter cards, as noted above, require special permission from Twitter in advance to be able to use them.
The iron is hot!
Twitter just launched this expanded card functionality last week. And, according to Twitter, no travel apps are using these cards yet.
So, be an early adopter and take advantage of these new features to grow your business! As for Bynd, we will be folding these Cards into our back-end as a service platform very soon!
For brands looking to drive app downloads and to increase word-of-mouth marketing and brand distribution, and grow revenues, this is an easy, quick-to-market path to all of that.
NB: This is a viewpoint from Todd Morrish, chief product officer at Bynd. Bynd is a social commerce platform for travel, retail and media businesses, delivering customer social engagement, brand amplification and strategies for increasing revenues.