The wet dream of every mobile app startup is going viral and not in the Howard Hughes type of way. Going viral means riding a social media-fed tsunami of RTs, Likes, and +1s to appster glory. Downloads. Millions of them.

Going viral can’t be taught, but integrating your app into Twitter Cards could help you get there. You see back in the old days (2 weeks ago), when someone tweeted out a photo from Instagram you could see the photo right there in the Twitter window without having to visit the link on Instagram’s web site. Oh those were the days. Instagram might have shut off its Twitter Cards integration, but that doesn’t mean your app can’t do what Instagram did.

the New York Times uses Twitter Cards to display previews of articles right within a Twitter stream.

Twitter Cards allow you to integrate content from your web site into Tweets that referenced that URL. There are 3 different types of Cards: ‘summary’ (for news articles and blog posts), ‘photo’ (for Instagram-like photos) and ‘player’ (for videos).

The great challenges of closing the viral app adoption loop is actually getting people to click the links that your app is tweeting out. Twitter Cards help you out because now people can view your app content right within their Twitter client without the jarring transformation of opening up the browser. You can attach your app’s Twitter account into your Twitter Card making your app instantly visible to anyone who views that Tweet.

The best part is that integrating with Twitter Cards is really simple. Twitter Cards are generated by a few 3 new metadata elements you embed into the header of your web site.

twitter:card The card type, which will be one of “summary”, “photo”, or “player”.
twitter:url Canonical URL of the card content.
twitter:title The title of your content as it should appear in the card.
twitter:description A description of the content in a maximum of 200 characters.
twitter:image A URL to the image representing the content.

For the Bahndr iPhone App, its Twitter Card is generated by these HTML header elements:

[sourcecode language=”html”]
<meta property="twitter:card" content="photo" />
<meta property="twitter:url" content="" />
<meta property="twitter:title" content="#Conundrum" />
<meta property="twitter:description" content="who&#39;d win in a fight?" />
<meta property="twitter:image" content="" />
<meta property="twitter:site" content="@bahndr" />

Which yields this Twitter Card:

Bahndr iPhone App Twitter Card

A Bahndr Twitter Card of type ‘Photo’

That’s it! Instant Twitter exposure. Marie Antoinette might have been onto something, when the cake comes easily, it should be eaten.

*Note that you will need to be approved by Twitter before your Twitter Cards appear. Approval takes about 2-3 weeks.

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