Treat Twitter like a visual medium & sync your Instagram posts to it

Here’s a little hack I use to share my Instagram photos to Twitter automatically.

Many years ago, Instagram decided to disable its Twitter cards integration, meaning photos posted to Instagram and then shared on Twitter, no longer showed up as an image but instead just as a descriptive text + link. It’s a common strategy for social startups to first leverage other platforms by making highly shareable content, and then slowly making content harder to share so that people spend more time on the platform itself (where the platform can actually monetize them through ads).

For years now, Twitter has steadily been growing into a visual service, instead of a service of status updates and link sharing, and tweets that include images getting higher engagement. Yet many still treat it as the service it once was.

Sharing to Twitter from Instagram with the app’s native functionality is near-pointless. It leads to very low engagement, and you’re typically better off manually making a photo post to Twitter. But why do the same thing twice if you can easily configure a solution where all you have to do is post to Instagram.

Step 1: register with IFTTT

IFTTT is a service that lets you connect different services and automate behaviours between them. The name of the service is an abbreviation of “If This, Then That”, meaning that if one thing occurs in one service, something else is triggered elsewhere.

In our case, that thing that occurs is you posting a photo to your Instagram account. What’s triggered elsewhere is that your Twitter account will post the Instagram photo as a native Twitter photo post with a link to the Instagram post.

Step 2: create a new applet on IFTTT

When you create a new applet, you’ll see the service’s formula structure explained before.

Click on +this and select Instagram. Connect your account, and then choose a trigger. If you only want to share specific posts to Twitter, you can do so through the use of a hashtag that you only use on specific posts. Since I only post every couple of days or less, I’m selecting “Any new photo by you” since I don’t see a need to limit what I’m sharing to Twitter.

In the next step, +that, you select Twitter, connect to the service, and then pick Post a tweet with image. You can customize the tweet text in case you want to add text to your tweets. Keep in mind that any text in the caption you use on Instagram will be abbreviated to make room for the other text. You will see this:

Click Add ingredient and select Url. This way, each time you post a photo from Instagram to Twitter, it actually links back to your original Instagram post, which may help people with placing comments, or converting your Twitter followers to Instagram followers.

The next field, Image URL, should read SourceUrl. SourceUrl is the direct link to the image on Instagram, and Twitter needs this link in order to repost the image. Changing this will break the applet.

Step 3: finish your applet

Think of a nice, easy-to-understand title for your applet and hit the Finish button. You can choose to get notifications each time your applet runs, which means you get notified each time a photo is posted from Instagram to Twitter.

Step 4: see if it works

When you go to My Applets,  you should see your applet. Here’s mine on the left:

When you click on it, it will open a bigger version of it. Click on the cogwheel and you get a screen to configure the recipe. I’ve cut up the screenshot, but if you’ve followed all the steps, you should see something like this:

Make a photo, post it on Instagram, and see if it works. (it may take a while for it to appear on your account)

All done!

Happy posting.

For some examples, I’ve previously set this up for my friends at Quibus and Knarsetand, and I’ve also got it set up for my own Twitter account.