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Twitter Cards – What are they, and how do I set them up?

twitter cards - what are they, how can I set them up?Starting in June of 2012, Twitter started rolling out a new feature – Twitter Cards. Now they seem to be available to all users. What are they, how do you set them up, and why bother?

Twitter Cards – What Are They?

Strangely named, Twitter Cards aren’t really cards at all. Rather, they generate a “View summary” or “View Photo” link below a tweet (see photo). When a user clicks, they’ll see more information about the linked article in the tweet. There are several different versions, but mostly you’ll see the default “summary card” which includes: title, description, thumbnail, and Twitter account attribution for that web page. Here are your other options:

  • Large Image Summary Card: 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.
  • Player Card: A Tweet sized video/audio/media player card.
  • Product Card: A Tweet card to better represent product content.
  • Lead Generation: Limited Availability – these cards allow a call to action. Cool!

Want to see how they work? Tweet this article – hopefully it’ll show up (this is a little buggy – we’ll address that tomorrow).

Twitter Cards – How Do I Set Them Up?

If your site does not use a CMS like WordPress, you can add the meta tags laid out in the sample code at the Twitter developer site to the header of each page – with your own values substituted, of course.

For our site, which uses WordPress. I installed a simple plugin called Twitter Tags Meta.  There isn’t too much to configure. Just enter the Twitter account for your business, choose to use the author’s Twitter account (picked up from the user profile), tell it which image to use and give it a default in case there is not image. Then choose your card type.

This plugin currently only supports Summary and Photo cards, but the authors promise more are coming soon. Enter a description for the home page, save and you’re done! The necessary meta tags are now installed on your site. At the post level, you can change the card type, if desired.

Once your plugin is installed, go to the Twitter Card Validator.  Use Chrome if you want to be able to see a preview of your cards. Enter any URL on your site and hit the Validate button. Don’t be discouraged if you get a server error – even multiple times. This is very often reported on the Twitter Cards forum, and we experienced it several times before we had success.

When it works, you’ll see a preview of your new card and have the option to get your site approved for Twitter cards. Once you’re approved you’ll receive an email at the address on your Twitter account. My approval took under an hour, though they said it would take weeks.

Why Should I Set Up Twitter Cards?

Twitter Cards give you the potential for more space and more exposure – for free! The “View summary” link is fairly prominent, and once clicked, the user sees a search engine-like summary, complete with an image. This will surely lead to more click-throughs and helps to spread brand recognition as your content shared serves as a powerful endorsement!

If you’re blogging on a regular basis and people (even if it’s just YOU) are sharing your content on Twitter, you should set it up today!

Having trouble setting up Twitter Cards? We have noticed some intermittent issues, and some that can be easily overcome. Get our Twitter Card error suggestions and solutions here.

About the Author Alisa Meredith (311 Posts)

As co-owner and chief inbound marketing consultant at Scalable Social Media, Alisa Meredith spends a lot of time keeping up with online marketing trends for the benefit of our customers. Computers have been a passion of hers since her first T1-99, so inbound and social media marketing is a natural fit.


  1. I have seen them, but didn’t know how they worked and that I had to set it up…Will take a gander when I have a bit of time and will report back. Thanks for the interesting article. You dig deep for the technical stuff! Love it.

    • Alisa Meredith

      Great! Thanks for stopping by Dorien! I am seeing some intermittent issues, so I’m stalking the developer forum and hope to have more to report tomorrow in my follow-up. You know me – if I’m going to take the time to learn something, I’m going to write about it 😉

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