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Promoted Tweets: Is a Picture Worth 350% More Clicks?

Jennifer Wong
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When you only have 140 characters to work with, you have to be cautious of every character you add to a tweet to determine what value it will add to it. Advertising on Twitter gives you the opportunity to accelerate campaign tests so you can find out what works and what doesn’t work and incorporate those best practices into your future paid and organic Twitter campaigns.

A recent photo in a tweet vs. no photo in a tweet experiment revealed that a linked photo results in 120 percent increase in engagement and 350 percent increase in clicks for a tweet.

Additional findings from the experiment include:

  • Retweets, replies and favorites aren't affected by tweet with a photo link vs. a tweet without a photo link.
  • Visits to a site from a tweet with a photo link vs. a tweet without a photo link are the same even though a tweet with a photo spends twice as many advertising dollars.
  • Within the same tweet, a photo link gets as many clicks as a URL link.

Depending on the goal of your Twitter campaign, adding a photo to your tweet might add additional value in terms of engagement but it also might just add costs with no additional benefit if you’re trying to optimize for website visits.

Let’s take a look at the set-up process, metrics, and results so you can replicate or modify this experiment in the future.

Set-Up & Process

The process for setting up this experiment was to promote two identical tweets except one tweet included a photo. These two tweets were within the same Twitter Promoted Tweets in Timeline campaign so that Twitter optimized the campaign itself between the two tweets.

twitter-photo-experiment

The tweets were sent with limited delivery – tweeted for a promoted tweet campaign. You can see the two campaign tweets on Twitter here and here.

Data & Results

Here are the metrics collected from the campaign after spending the campaign budget of $1,500.

twitter-photo-experiment-metrics

These following reports show the individual results from each tweet separately.

twitter-photo-experiment-campaign-results

The tweet with the photo received twice as many impressions, 354 percent more clicks, and 170 percent greater engagement than the tweet without the photo.

Although the engagement was higher in the first tweet, the advertising spend of the first tweet was 170 percent higher also. If the goal of your campaign is engagement, adding a photo to the tweet will help reach that goal.

twitter-photo-experiment-individual-tweet-metrics

Looking at the number of clicks for each link in a tweet, the photo link received just as many click as a URL link.

twitter-photo-experiment-results

This traffic report shows that a tweet with a photo plus URL link and a tweet with just a URL link receive the same number of visits to the website.

However, the tweet with a photo drives visits that are twice as likely to convert into leads. This may be the case because a user already gets a sense of what the benefit will be for clicking on the URL link due to the related image. They are already more interested and inclined to take the next action.

Clarification notes:

  • Twitter counts an engagement per user – if a user clicks on the photo link and the URL link, you are charged for one engagement, not two.
  • ‘Engagement’ for Twitter Ads means a human interaction with the tweet which includes: a click on the Tweet to expand it, a click on a link, a click on a hashtag, a click on a photo link, a click on the Twitter profile, a retweet, a favorite, or a reply.

5 Tips for Maximizing Twitter Photos

Since photo links might get as many clicks as URL links and are effective in driving higher engagement and conversion, make sure every photo is well optimized toward your goal.

Here are five tips to maximize photos on Twitter:

  1. Include a call to action: Even when you add a photo to a Tweet, be sure to also include a call to action that drives the user to a goal. "Click to download", "Read and Retweet", or "Do you agree?" are all examples of call to actions that prompt the user to take additional action after seeing the photo.
  2. Make it relevant: Think of a photo as a preview of the tweet. Users should see the picture and get an idea of what to expect when clicking through the link. This might be why visits from a tweet with a photo convert at a higher rate than a visit from a tweet without a photo. The user already has an expectation for and inclination to convert when clicking on the relevant URL link.
  3. Use a photo URL shortener that is compatible with Twitter: If you aren't uploading a photo from Twitter’s native application, make sure your photo shortening service is able to show a preview in Twitter. There are several different services such as TwitPic or yfrog but check number of characters it shortenes tweets to – it can range from 19 to 30 characters. This ensures that a Twitter user can click to see the picture – without having to leave Twitter – and also see the URL link and call to action at the same time. For example, I hate linking out to Instagram every time I want to see a picture then switch tabs to go back to Twitter again. A compatible photo shortening service leads to an overall better user experience when engaging with tweets.
  4. Make the photo equal 1,000 words: When you have to make the most of 140 characters, leverage the extra space to add additional text or branding. The photo can include additional text on top of the picture, a button on top of the image, or even just your business logo.
  5. Make it interesting: When users are scrolling through 5+ hours of tweets to catch up on what they missed, your photo should stand out and make the user stop scrolling and read the full tweet. Think about the photo background, the quality of the image, and the overall "interesting" factor. Users hate seeing boring or poor quality photos in their Twitter streams. It doesn’t add any value to the tweet.

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