Twitpic logoThe other day I was involved in a discussion that included talk about Twitpic, the most popular of the real-time media sharing sites on the Internet. The service was started by a fellow in Charleston, South Carolina, the town where I last lived (in fact, the site I just shared was designed by a friend of mine), and so I’ve seen and heard a lot of buzz about this local phenomenon.

I was late to the photo sharing phenomenon on Twitter; my first smartphone, an Apple iPhone 3G (not 3GS), took pretty horrible pictures, and as I had a two year contract with AT&T for that phone, I was unable to share photos from my phone for those two years. Now that I’ve moved overseas I’ve bought an iPhone 4 and have been very impressed with the quality of the photos it takes! It was about time to get involved and to start sharing pictures with my friends on Twitter.

So here’s how to use Twitpic, and when I think it is a good idea to do so.

How to use Twitpic

Using Twitpic is easy…

  1. First, login to Twitter. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, you’ll want to sign up for one.
  2. Once you have a Twitter account and are online, go to Twitpic’s homepage.
  3. Click the Sign in with Twitter button at the top of the page; it will bring you to Twitpic’s welcome page.
  4. Select Let’s Get Started (be sure to uncheck the box to choose not to follow Noah Everett and Twitpic if you don’t care to see news and information from the founder of Twitpic or from Twitpic itself).
  5. On the next screen you will be able to upload photos and send the links to Twitter; on the right hand side of the screen you will also be given an email address to send photos to Twitpic in the form of, putting whatever description you’d like to send to Twitter with your photo in the subject line. This is the method that I personally use to send photos to Twitpic – I take a picture on my iPhone, click to view it, and then click to email it to Twitpic.

When to use Twitpic

While researching Twitpic I ran across a post on The Next Web from a fellow who was of the opinion that you should never use Twitpic or similar media-sharing services. His argument is that it is much better to post your media to your WordPress blogs using Posterous (Posterous can also send media to Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Blogger, TypePad, Movable Type, LiveJournal and Xanga – it’s certainly worth checking out). That way you can have complete control over your media; it will be searchable, it will not disappear if Twitpic should get purchased or go out of business, and you can control your own branding on the site where the page appears. I have to agree that these are all very good points, especially the last one – I personally stopped using LiveJournal as my primary blog when an ad on a post I submitted featured a huge photo of dirty yellow teeth – it really distracted from the heartfelt post I was sharing on the site!

However, I disagree that you should never share photos or videos to sites like Twitpic… I do think such sites have a time and place. The best time to share photos on Twitpic is when you don’t really care if your photos disappear in a few years, in a few months, or even in a few days… this is when the photos you are sharing are timely, and relevant because you’re sharing them in real time. Some examples of this include photos of the people you’re hanging with, or of a dish of the food you’re about to eat, or of something you find interesting at the time. On my own Twitter feed I shared a picture of the Ch√Ętelet Metro station in Paris, because I had noticed that since my last visit to Paris they’d installed safety gates beside the rails. This was interesting to me because I was there looking at it and wanted to share it, but certainly wouldn’t care to save it for posterity on my blog! Same thing goes for my stream of consciousness pictures during a visit to IKEA.

That being said, there is another option to consider – posting a photo to Twitpic when something happens, and then posting it to your blog later when you have a chance to download it onto a computer, resize it properly, crop it, and otherwise ensure that it is of proper quality for your personal blog and your own personal brand. In this manner you can summarize your activities to Twitter when they happen, and then craft proper blog entries about them later, where you can go into more detail about them. As I mentioned, the beauty of media on Twitpic is its real-time nature. I personally prefer to craft quality blog posts and not simply throw stuff onto my site (as such, I really dislike applications that automatically post daily recaps of your tweets to your blog – I like reading microblogs in real time, but I don’t much care to see archives of them).

It’s fun to view photos on Twitpic, catching real-time glimpses of the lives of the people that I follow on Twitter. If you’re not already posting your own photos to Twitpic or a similar media sharing site, I suggest you give it a shot!