Study: If You’re Tweeting, Add a Photo For Higher Engagement

Looking to increase the number of retweets you’re getting? A new study by Twitter found that adding photos, videos, and links to a tweet results in a higher number of retweets.

Ever wondered why some tweets generate more retweets than others? Well, Twitter decided to find out.

This month, the social media giant released a report that analyzed more than 2 million tweets to determine which types of these 140-character messages create the most engagement, or retweets. Specifically, Twitter wanted to see how much adding photos, hashtags, links, videos, or a number such as a sports statistic affected the number of retweets generated.

And what they discovered is that not all tweets are equal.

“The fact is, people don’t engage equally with every tweet,” Simon Rogers, Twitter data editor, wrote in the company’s Media Blog. “But now we can confirm that adding video, links, and photos all result in an impressive boost in the number of retweets.”

By analyzing the tweets sent by 1,000 verified users in the areas of TV, news, music, sports, and government and politics, Twitter data scientist Douglas Mason found that across all topics,  adding a photo URL resulted in a 35 percent increase in retweets. Meanwhile adding:

  • Video URLs led to a 28 percent bump in engagement.
  • Quotes got a 19 percent increase in retweets.
  • A number got a 17 percent increase.
  • Hashtags generated a 16 percent bump in engagement.

These stats varied somewhat among topic areas. For example, for those in the TV industry, adding a quote to a tweet generated more retweets (53 percent) than adding a photo, which generated a 46 percent bump in engagement. And if you’re tweeting about sports, adding a video URL may not generate as much engagement as other industries. The study found that added video URLs  to sports-related tweets led to the smallest (15 percent) increase in retweets as opposed to adding photos and other links.

Bolstering tweets with photos, videos, and links may generate more engagement, but don’t forsake your overall Twitter strategy at the expense of one tweet, Rogers wrote.

“While this research focuses on the engagement levels of individual tweets with specific features, it’s important to think of your tweeting holistically,” he wrote. “It’s not just about optimizing every single tweet, but about building a compelling way for your followers and Twitter users to connect with you.”


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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