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Below, in what was first written in early 2016, I’m examining if tweets with images actually perform better. In November 2017, I felt the need to update this post with one more test, which I’m sharing here: Do tweets with images and links work?
Of course, that depends on your definition of “work” but assuming that you want people to click on the link, my experience has been that they do not work. When you add an image natively with a tweet and then a link, people end up clicking on the image! And in some tweets with links only, the preview image doesn’t look that much different and is actually clickable.
Here’s an example from a recent tweet with images:
Of 20 engagements, just 3 were of the link. So if clicking is important to you, make the click count! I would not upload images and links for this reason. Also, keep in mind that there are way more people reading than clicking overall, too.
That’s the 2017 update. The 2016 research is below…
Do Tweets with images really perform better on Twitter?
We’ve seen the studies and expert opinions. And yes, I’ve seen accounts that have Tweets that perform a lot better when they include authentic and uniquely original photos.
I set out to take a look and see if this was the case for my Twitter account, which as you may recall was called one of the marketing Twitter accounts to follow in 2016.
How to check your Twitter metrics/analytics
Twitter allows you to check metrics for each Tweet individually. Click on the chart bar in the bottom right corner of one of your Tweets to do that. It’s a nice way to see how recent Tweets are performing. Once you click it, you get a screen that also allows you to promote the Tweet. That’s a nice function and I recommend to promote Tweets that are already getting interest from your interested communities through organic reach.
This technique, however, won’t help us to get a higher-level view at what Tweets perform best. To get that go to Twitter Analytics.
Once you are there (make sure you are signed in), you get a nice overview of recent Twitter activity, including a 28-day rolling overview. I tweeted over 2,400 times and my stats were actually down slightly from the previous 28-day period. 1.5 million impressions and 1,377 mentions are not bad, though. Here’s part of my most recent 28-day summary:
When you scroll down you can review the best performing Tweets for each recent month. Looking back through all of 2015 this way, my Top Performing Text Tweet always outperformed by impressions my Top Performing Media Tweet.
Based on that analysis, text tweets outperformed media (usually picture) tweets on my account.
How to review Tweets’ performances against each other
To dig a little deeper, I had to export my 2,400 tweets from the last 28 days. To do that, click on “Tweets” in the Analytics Navigation bar. On the right, you get an option to export data for the last 28 days or on a month by month basis. I focused on the last 28 days.
They export into a spreadsheet, which I can then sort. This is a screen shot of the Top 10 tweets by impressions. The ones in green did not include media (photos, etc.) The one in blue did include a photo. As you can see, 9 of my top 10 Tweets had no media attached to them.
Next I sorted the spreadsheet for my Top 10 performing Tweets based on engagement, which means they had the most clicks, retweets or likes.
The top 3 Tweets from the Impressions category also made the Top 10 in engagement. Four of the Top 10 included images and the Top Tweet was one with a picture, that was retweeted by the fitness guru mentioned in it.
Conclusion: Are images or text better in Tweets?
Based on these numbers, I would say that it comes down to a good mix. If the story told lends itself to include an authentic and useful photo, include one. Pictures perform slightly better in the engagement Top 10, but aren’t owning that list either. Four out of 10 isn’t bad. In the impressions Top 10, it was less.
Now, as mentioned, I’ve seen accounts where Tweets with images blow Tweets without them out of the water. So, again: Test, test, test. Best Practices or Industry Standards in social media aren’t rules that are written into stone.They should be taken as a starting point and then review what’s working for you.
For me: I use whatever pieces share the story in the most engaging way.
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Move your content from happening to performing. The 2020 textbook: