Twitter announces new functionalities for Twitter Cards, helps mobile app developers drive downloads, discovery

Twitter yesterday announced a couple of new functionalities for its Twitter Cards platform that are of particular interest to mobile app developers. The two new functionalities allows mobile app developers to add links at the bottom of their Tweets featuring Twitter Cards that either prompt users to download their app from a mobile app store or deep-link into their own app (for users who already have a particular developer’s app installed).

Both of these new Twitter Card functionalities — app installs and deep-linking — work across iPhone, iPad and Android. Developers can implement Twitter Cards with these functionalities by adding a new set of markup tags, which Twitter details here.

Twitter Cards, which more than 10,000 developers already use, allow developers to embed rich media — videos, images, story summaries and more — in Tweets that are generated from the link within a Tweet’s text.

First, mobile app developers can add these new footer tags to their markup, so they can specify to users who haven’t downloaded their app to do so. The Twitter Card will have a link that reads “Get the app.” For developer’s that have an iPhone app that’s not iPad optimized, they should include the iPhone app ID, name, and URL, for both iPhone and iPad related tags. When no value is provided for iPad, the Cards will render a “View on web” link directing to the value in twitter:url.

Second, If a user has a particular developer’s app installed, a developer can specify a deep-link into the relevant resource within their own app. The text prompt in the embedded Twitter Card in a Tweet reads “Open in app.” If a user taps the link, Twitter will send the user out of Twitter and into a developer’s app. For example, instead of viewing a photo from Flickr within the Twitter app, a user can click the “Open in Flickr app” link to hop out of the Twitter app an into the Flickr app to view the photo.

“With mobile app deep-linking, users will be able to tap a link to either view content directly in your app, or download your app, depending on whether or not they have your app installed,” explains Twitter’s Jason Costa in a blog post.

These new functionalities tear down the barrier between app-to-app communication. Instead of pulling up an in-app browser like Twitter used to do, which the Facebook app still does, a user can hop out of Twitter and to another app. These new Twitter Card functionalities also provide a huge potential for app developers to drive downloads and app discovery. Since many developers promote their apps on social networks or implement social sharing features within their apps, they can now use these new Twitter functionalities to encourage users to download their app or re-open their app to increase retention and decrease churn.

Union Square Ventures managing partner Fred Wilson said in a blog post that the deep-linking functionality is helpful for ecommerce apps. Instead of directing a user to a mobile web page where they may not be logged into a particular ecommerce company’s website, they can now be sent to an ecommerce company’s mobile app where a user is generally logged in with their payment credentials. Essentially, ecommerce businesses can use this new Twitter Card functionality to help with driving transactions rather than just page views.

For developers interested in learning more about how to enable app install prompts and deep-linking, head here.