The 140-character purity of Twitter feeds is a thing of the past. The micro-blogging site is giving pictures and videos more important roles. In fact, you'll now automatically get photos and Vine videos right in your timelines. Some users are grumbling, but many retailers are rubbing their hands together in glee.

Twitter followers no longer need to click a link to see an image or video. Additionally, the update allows a follower to reply, retweet or favorite a tweet while in the timeline. The update follows Twitter’s previous efforts to expand its service with options including Twitter cards and conversational links.

User Pushback

Randy Higgins, vice president of digital marketing at digital marketing agency Acquity Group, acknowledged some users are unhappy. But he told that he expects user pushback against this update, which goes against “the fundamental premise of Twitter, which is 140 characters,” to be “short-lived.”

For brands, going beyond text is an opportunity to “deliver richer experiences,” he said. On Facebook, for example, Acquity has found that the clickthrough rate is 10 to 20 times higher on images in newsfeeds compared to other kinds of ads on the site. “An injection of a six-second video or an image is an attention grabber,” he said. 

Acquity recently unveiled the results of a study on opportunities for smartphone advertising, which found 17 percent of respondents have made purchases from social media channels and another one third are ready to do so.

Given the protectiveness that Twitter users feel for their pithy service, however, it’s clear that brands will need to tread carefully with the new photo and video opportunity. In-your-face, out-of-context images may be received poorly. Marketers may have more success using images that are provided by their fans or that help to visualization a product offer.

In other words, add images or Vine video clips that add value to the content. Marketers could also capitalize on Twitter’s emphasis on up-to-moment news, connecting to a current event that relates to the brand.