Social media presents an opportunity for brands to showcase and solidify their personality to users, and visuals are the key to capturing users’ attention on their busy social feeds.
The major social media platforms know this and generally, try and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to designing their products in an image-friendly way. To this end, Twitter recently announced an upcoming change to how they will handle images uploaded to the platform - specifically when it comes to PNG files.
“The way Twitter handled PNG uploads in the past was not always consistent and could lead to large PNG images being used when a JPEG would have been preferable for image load latency and user data costs. The changes we’re making will provide consistent behavior that can be depended on by those uploading images to Twitter to reach a global audience by reducing how many PNG images are served on Twitter.”
Going forward, if you upload a PNG file to the platform, it may end up getting converted into a JPEG file in an effort to reduce the overall file size. These changes will not take effect until February 11th.
Because JPEGs are more compact than PNGs, it’s easier for the platform to handle, which will lessen the data load time and help create a more uniform user experience across the globe.
This change does not mean that all PNGs uploaded to the platform will be converted. Twitter provided a chart to allow users to see the situations in which a PNG will remain in its original format, and when it will be altered.
Why Are These Changes Happening Now?
In the announcement, Twitter cites its global audience as the main driver behind these changes. While many of us have the privilege of accessing the internet at fast speeds, there are still many areas in the world where this is not possible.
For someone with a fast connection, the difference between a PNG and JPEG load time might only be a few seconds, but for users with 2G internet speeds, it could mean waiting over 30 seconds for an image to load.
Additionally, waiting for that load time can eat up a lot of the user’s already minimal bandwidth, making it more difficult to load other features of the platform, or even for other users on the same connection to browse the internet themselves.
Twitter is making this change in an effort to provide all users, regardless of connection speed, with an equal experience on their platform.
What Does this Mean for Marketers?
Because these changes won’t take place until February 11th, marketers still have time to evaluate their current images and determine if any may be altered. The chart above will also be helpful for future uploading to ensure quality remains consistent.
To ensure your social images render correctly, we suggest creating them as a JPEG so that Twitter doesn’t convert your file.
However, I believe there is a more powerful takeaway here for marketers: How does your website perform across the globe?
Seasoned marketers know how important site speed is for search engine optimization (SEO), but have you considered what this might look like in places with a weaker internet connection?
Ensuring that your website pages load quickly, regardless of connection speed, is important for global businesses or anyone with a global audience.
If you’re using large PNG images on your blog, for example, they might load fine for most of your users, but some will likely be missing out on the full user experience.
Even if you believe the majority of your audience is located in the United States, it’s never a bad thing to evaluate the excess bulk on your website that can be shaved down. It may only make a few milliseconds of a difference to you, but on a global level, it could be the difference between getting a loyal follower or having someone click off of your website entirely.