On May 22, 2013, Twitter introduced the newest in the line of Twitter Cards: the Lead Generation Card. With this announcement, a few questions arise: what is a Twitter Card, what is a Lead Generation Card, and finally, why all the fuss?

A Twitter Card, put simply, allows for a little extra data to be attached to a Tweet. This data is pulled from wherever you are linking to in your Tweet. For example, if you are linking to a news article, your expanded Tweet will show a brief description of the story and a picture associated with it. There are six types of Twitter Cards available: Summary & Large Image Summary (the one used in the previous example), Photo, Gallery, App, Player, Product, and the currently unavailable Lead Generation. Each of these cards does what you would expect:

  • Summary Cards (Large Image and Regular) – displays an image and a description of the page linked to within the Tweet.
  • Photo Cards – features an image with a much smaller area for a title and description.
  • App Cards – allows you to download an app directly from Twitter onto your mobile device.
  • Player Cards – shows a video that can be watched right on Twitter.
  • Product Cards – displays a product with a price and other relevant information.

Lead Generation Cards are cards that contain a button that allows a Twitter user to safely send their Twitter handle and their email address to whomever created the card.

It is not hard to imagine why these cards are so exciting to digital marketers. There have always been questions about the viability of Twitter as a lead generation platform. As of right now, marketers can do little more than send users direct messages to try to start the conversation. Armed with the Lead Generation Cards, marketers will be able to use Twitter to populate their email databases with engaged Twitter users.

The downside is that Lead Generation Cards only pass over the Twitter user’s handle and email address. This means that demographics and locations targeted for these email lists will be near impossible. For major corporations with a national or even international target audience, this will not be as much of a factor, but for small local businesses, it decreases the value of these emails.

Will Lead Generation Cards live up to the hype? It is entirely possible, but even if they don’t, they demonstrate that Twitter is trying to make itself more useful to marketers. So even if they fail, we will likely see further attempts from Twitter to make itself a more marketing-friendly platform.

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