I like the new user photo galleries that Twitter started rolling out yesterday. They’ll make photo search and discovery much easier, especially for those of us who’ve scattered our photo uploads across TwitPic, yFrog, Mobypicture and other photo services.
But I’m also hoping that the product Twitter launched yesterday is a shell of what it’ll be six months from now, or a year from now. Because there’s so much more that Twitter can and should do with these User Galleries.
Here’s a look at one Twitter user (me) would like to see:
1. Stop archiving images that I retweet via the “old style” retweet.
The gallery is looking for photo links in tweets and archiving them. And because the old-style retweets (where you send a tweet that includes “RT @username” or something similar) are actually counted as new/unique tweets, Twitter grabs the other user’s image and puts it in my gallery.
The photo from that tweet shows up in my gallery even though it came from @Tri_Conf.
Twitter should be able to only put images that I upload into my User Gallery. If someone is searching for a photo in my gallery, they should be able to search just photos that I’ve uploaded.
2. Archive more than 100 images.
Someone more technically inclined than me will have to explain why there’s a 100-image limit in the galleries. Twitter isn’t hosting all of the images. Bandwidth and disk space is easy to come by, right? This one I don’t get. For some users, 100 images might be a week’s worth of activity. Actually, when U2 is playing a concert, my website’s Twitter account (@atu2) probably manually retweets 25-50 photos over the course of about two hours from people at the show.
Twitter should be able to offer complete galleries without a 100-image limit.
3. Include videos in my gallery.
When “new Twitter” launched last September, the company emphasized the ease of consuming media — both photos and videos. Video is obviously an important part of the Twitter experience, but videos are oddly missing from the new User Galleries.
Twitter should add videos to the User Galleries but, just like No. 1 above, it should only be videos that the user uploads — no retweeted videos.
4. Let users control the four images that show up on their profile.
A good Twitter profile helps attract new followers. It can also attract new business. As people check out a company’s or individual’s Twitter profile, they might be deciding whether or not to follow that account — and maybe even to do business with that person or company. First impressions are important and these new User Galleries play a role in reputation management.
On both Facebook and Google+, users can choose which photos show up on the main page. Many companies and individuals (me included) have tried to be creative with images and make our profiles more unique and personal.
Twitter should allow users to control the four image thumbnails that show up on their main profile page.
5. Improve the searchability of galleries and images (and videos!).
This is a search site you’re reading, so you knew I’d have to bring this back around to what we’re all about. And even though I began this article by mentioning how User Galleries makes it easier to search and discover photos shared on Twitter, the reality is that there’s not currently a way to actually search anyone’s gallery.
For now, you can only browse. And that’s fine since there’s that 100-image limit. But when Twitter goes along with No. 2 above and drops the limit, it’ll need a search box so we can find images (and videos, when they’re added) more easily.
Twitter should add search capabilities within each user’s gallery, and should also add a way to search for “Tweets with images” on the Twitter advanced search page.
You probably noticed that Twitter is using the name “User Galleries” — not “Photo Galleries.” That certainly leaves the door open for videos and maybe even other content to be added in the future, as I hope for in number three above.
There’s even more that Twitter could do with User Galleries and media than what I’ve suggested here.
How about tagging people and having those photos associated with their Twitter accounts? That might be too Facebook-like, but who knows.
What about tagging locations and offering image search based on location? And maybe tying that into the seemingly forgotten Twitter Places?
How about allowing users to sort/filter the images in their gallery, rather than just browse them chronologically?
I know, I know … User Galleries are new. Give them time to grow and develop, right? I agree, and I’ll do that. But while I wait — while we wait — I think the ideas above would go a long way toward making a feature that I already like so much more powerful and useful.