Bad news for all the social media blog reading billionaires out there: When it comes to promoted tweets, money can’t make you happy.
(Whether or not it brings you meaning and happiness in real life is up for debate. Personally, I’m pretty sure my life would be a lot better if I had enough money to buy the McBarge, but I digress.)
While run an advertising campaign on Twitter (or any other social platform) could get your post in front of the right eyes, There is no guarantee that your audience will respond to this post the way you want them to.
When you pay to advertise a tweet, you are ultimately only buying one delivery mechanism. The content you provide has yet to do its job – whether your target is clicks, engagement, shares, or good old-fashioned LOLs.
But what content is used to get the job done on Twitter? Despite the fact that ad engagement on Twitter has increased 27% in the last year, it’s not always 100% clear what makes a successful campaign.
So, on behalf of science, the Hootsuite social team boldly put their Twitter feed to the test this month to find out if advertised Tweets with pictures or links are performing better.
What did you learn? Better read on to find out! (Yeah, I’m a prankster! Get on with it! And then buy me a floating McDonalds, my goodness!)
Bonus: Download the Free 30 Day Plan to Grow Your Twitter Followers Quickly, a daily workbook to help you establish a Twitter marketing routine and track your growth so you can show real results to your boss after a month.
Hypothesis: Sponsored tweets with link previews achieve higher click-through rates than sponsored tweets with images
The question the Hootsuite social media team wanted to answer last month was pretty specific: that achieve a higher click rate, advertised tweets with link previews or advertised tweets with images?
What triggered this query? Some disappointing numbers to be honest.
In advance of the publication of the results of the Digital 2021 Report, the Hootsuite social media team had designed a series of infographics that illustrate some interesting findings from the annual report.
They designed an entire campaign around these images, all with the goal of getting traffic to see the full report. The idea was that Twitter users would want to see these interesting pictures and click on the url to find out more. Foolproof … right?
Unfortunately, although the advertised tweets received a high number of views and engagements, only a few users actually clicked through. The cost per click was $ 3. Ouch.
“It was a poor campaign historically,” laughs Nick Martin, a social engagement specialist.
Like any good social media manager, Nick watched the campaign numbers closely as they launched and quickly realized that there might be a problem.
“I’ve found that people come to these tweets and click the photo, not the link,” he says. “We had created all of these pictures to go the extra mile and entice people, but it turned out to be doing the opposite … giving them too much information and not feeding them where we needed to go.”
To fix the problem, Nick decided to remove the image and informative text to really simplify it. Would CTRs improve if the tweets being advertised only used a link preview instead of a separate image and link? Just one way to find out.
To test his hypothesis that users clicked the picture and not the link, Nick launched a new wave of advertised tweets called the just displayed a link and measured their effects over the course of a month.
(To be clear: these tweets had an image in so far as an image is automatically generated in the link preview, but they were not stand-alone images that were shared on Twitter).
But first he would have to analyze the image-based advertised tweets to establish a benchmark for the measurement. It found that between March 1st and April 11th, 19 advertised tweets were sent with pictures and achieved a click rate of 0.4%.
This report breaks down everything that has changed in the last quarter. Is mobile use on the rise? Are people’s buying habits different? How can your company benefit from the changes? Answers to these questions and more can be found here: https://t.co/YcNHP3T48W # Digital2021 pic.twitter.com/gOylOWmiFR
– Hootsuite (@hootsuite) March 22, 2021
This advertised tweet with image was a top performer with 48 link clicks … but that only translates to a link click-through rate of 0.09% and a CPC of $ 4.37.
The eternal struggle for the internet’s attention continues. Dogs get their first treat this time. 🐕https: //t.co/b7KReqEU0m pic.twitter.com/tCyN12KT3e
– Hootsuite (@hootsuite) February 10, 2021
Another advertised tweet with a picture received only one link click: This corresponds to a link click rate of 0.03%.
And the winner for most of the time he’s spent on social media is … the Philippines! 🏆
Find and analyze more data in our research report here: https://t.co/xek53Utd7S # Digital2021 pic.twitter.com/5HpWwxZZMg
– Hootsuite (@hootsuite) February 5, 2021
Another example of a poorly performing tweet with an image. Although it had a high engagement rate of 2.45%, there were no link clicks.
Then, between April 12 and May 13, Nick posted four tweets with no comparison images.
He kept the text vague and focused on a call-to-action to read the full report. “I wanted to create a situation where less is more,” he says.
This is what happened …
TLDR: Sponsored tweets with link previews from sponsored tweets carried out with images.
Nick sent four sponsored link preview tweets in this experiment, and those four became the top performers on the campaign.
Out of a total of 623 link clicks, over 500 came from these four posts. The click rate rose from 0.04% to 0.13%: a dramatic leap.
Our report # Digital2021 is here. Immerse yourself in ALL global data we have for you. https://t.co/SiXytc59wy
– Hootsuite (@hootsuite) April 12, 2021
This advertised tweet with link preview was a top performer with 237 link clicks: This corresponds to a link click rate of 0.15% and a CPC of $ 1.91.
Released! Our report # Digital2021 has been updated for Q2. Check out ALL the data we have for you here 👇 https://t.co/v9HvPFvCfb
– Hootsuite (@hootsuite) April 28, 2021
Meanwhile, this advertised tweet (only one link, no image) has received 144 link clicks (a link click-through rate of 0.17% and a CPC of $ 2.15). Much better!
It was just a few simple adjustments – remove the images, simplify the text – that had positive results for Nick and the Hootsuite team. (The timing was roughly the same for both types of posts.)
Note, however, that while this change was very helpful in getting clicks, it may not be helpful if clicks are not part of your social media goals.
For example, the advertised tweets with photos actually had a very high engagement rate. So, if engagement is your goal, then promoted tweets with photos may be a better choice for your needs. Ultimately, success is relative in the social field.
What do the results mean?
Listen, it’s a shame the social team’s beautiful infographics didn’t produce the results we were looking for. But those hiccups have only resulted in a few valuable lessons any social media team can take on with their own next paid campaign. (Thanks for your sacrifice, Nick and Co.!)
Reduce the friction in your ads
“If you want people to click the link, make sure everything they click goes directly to that link,” says Nick. Don’t get around the bush. Be direct, short, and sweet so there is no confusion.
Do you need help writing a clear, compelling call-to-action? We’ll cover you.
Images drive engagement, not clicks
Images can absolutely be a powerful tool in your Twitter arsenal. But just because you can use them doesn’t mean you should.
Be aware of your media choices and formatting to ensure your post gets what you want it to. (Is engagement your goal? Pictures are a good place to start … and we have a few more ideas here on the blog.)
Keep an eye on analytics
A social campaign is not an operation that is a set-it-and-forget-it. By carefully monitoring the incoming reactions and data, Nick was able to spot a negative trend early on and switch tactics to meet the social team’s goals.
Keep an eye on your analysis and don’t be afraid to change tactics if necessary. Here is our complete guide to Twitter Analytics.
Thanks to Nick and the team for sharing these intimate insights for the Experiments blog: True Heroes of the Social Media Science Community. If you haven’t had a chance to dig into the Digital 2021 report, it has even more stunning stats than this blog post if you can believe it. Listen!
If you’re looking for more how-to guides for your Twitter marketing campaigns, check out Hootsuite’s complete guide to Twitter for Business here.
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