IF A PICTURE SAYS 1,000 WORDS – How pictures can brighten up your Tweets

Originally uploaded by mattmurray74


Striking pictures can deliver striking stories.

That’s been the case since the first monk in a windswept Northumbrian monastry inscribed Biblical scenes on velum.

Good pictures leap from the page. They do in social media too.

It’s amazing how this can be overlooked. Some Twitter feeds concentrate so heavily on RSS-heavy slabs of text they can have the appearance of a 19th century newspaper. All content. No pictures. Not much in the way of fun.

At a time when most phones take servicable pictures and digital cameras come free with a tank of petrol there really, really is no excuse.

Pictures can work amazingly well on Twitter to liven up your organisation, group or council’s Twitter feed. It can give a few soft edges, give it a human face and make your place a lot greener and more attractive.


But the really big potential engine for all of this is flickr, the online community of amateur photographers.

The most amazing pictures are being taken by amate

Flowers in a Walsall churchyard by Matt Murray
Flowers in a Walsall churchyard by Matt Murray

ur photographers armed with enthusaism and a passion for taking good pictures.


1. The Twitter profile pic.

Marvellous as most corporate logos can be the truth is it was never designed to be shrunk to the size of a Twitter postage stamp. Stick some flowers on. Or a landmark. Go, on. Brighten up people’s lives. We’ve had a statue, flowers from a garden and a horses head from a museum. Mind you, that wasn’t too popular and we had to ditch that.

2. Use your mobile and tweet.

That thing in your pocket. Sunny day? Nice view? School being opened? Take a picture. Share. Enjoy. Connect. You’d tell your friends , so tell your Twitter friends. Go to http://www.twitpic.com and post on Twitter from there. It’s a brilliant, brilliant resource. (Our countryside team have been particularly good at supplying pics.)

3. Find your flickr group

This is where things get really interesting. For all your lofi efforts with your Nokia you’re going to have to work hard to beat an image taken by a craftsman. Or an enthusiastic amateur.

Search flickr for your town or community. Chances are there will be scores of pics. In the Walsall, for example, there’s a thriving community of more than 70 contributors with 4,000 images.

There’s some brilliant, brilliant work. Look out for the Four Seasons garden flickr feed from Walsall with more than 100,000 hits.

The best thing is with flickr there is a real web 2.0 willingness to share and link. People are very happy to have their work showcased.

4. Tweet a flickr pic

Now its time to get interesting. Choose a pic. Cut and paste the URL into a link shortening site. Something like http://www.bit.ly is brilliant. It’ll keep tabs on how many people open and when.

The industry average for click-throughs is about three per cent, say Mashable. For apicture posted to Twitter it can be three times that.

Top tip: countryside shots and sunny pics go down ever so well.

5. Stage a Flickr meet

Contact the organiser of your flickr group – or photographic society – and invite them down. Those war memorials, Mayor’s Parlour curios and rooftops may get a cursory glance if you work in a Council House. They may well be a source of some great pics.

6. Start your own flickr feed.

If you are a group, an organisation or have a stake in an area a flickr feed works. Newcastle City Council, for example, have their own flickr site. It’s a place where good quality pictures can be seen and downloaded. A word of caution of you have a massive back catologue of freelance commissioned shots. Check with them first to see if they are happy for you to do this. Photographers own the copyright of shots they take. Even if you’ve paid them for them. What they’ve most likely given you is a licence to use the images in a certain way. Which leads to…

7. Link to a freelance photographer’s site.

If a freelancer has done work for you they may well be happy for you to direct traffic to their site to view one of the pictures you’ve commissioned. In fact, they’d probably be ecstatic. Everyone wins. Your followers are treated to good images and they get some web traffic. 

Do all this, you’ll connect with people, you’ll take part in amazing conversations, you’ll promote your area and you’ll encourage talent.

If a picture says 1,000 words, why aren’t you using it in 140 characters?


@walsallcouncil #PicoftheDay http://bit.ly/3lZnTT

Walsall flickr group http://bit.ly/DoJxg

Countryside in Walsall posted via Twitpic  http://www.twitpic.com/kpcuo

Join the Conversation


  1. A great article – thanks Dan!

    I don’t think I use enough pictures on my blog, my Twitter or on our corporate Twitter so might be a good chance to put some of these tips into practice. And join Flickr!

    1. Ha! Thanks, Matt. I was thinking of adding one of my own but you are the professional at these things. I’m looking forward to some contributions from Brisbane on your flickr.

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