Why Your Link Strategy on Twitter May Be Wrong
Oct 22

Why Your Link Strategy on Twitter May Be Wrong

Twitter has been plateauing as a social network. Today, it’s less of a social network by definition and more of a source for breaking news. As a result, Twitter feeds are filled with links.

This isn’t a bad thing, per se. Twitter users are accustomed to this, and more likely than not use Twitter to seek out these links as part of their daily news consumption. However, it should prompt marketers and brands to try something different in order to stand out in a sea of oversaturated feeds.

The Difference a Link Makes

Consider an example: Pew Research demographer Conrad Hackett sent out two similar tweets on August 4, 2015 just 20 minutes apart. The tweets contained data related to what countries will have the largest populations in 2050 compared to present day and 1950.

Each tweet contained a chart of the data and a short list of the 2050 population statistics. The difference? One tweet had a link, and one did not.

The tweet without the link was shared 330 percent more than the other.

Tweet with link:

Most people in 2050 (new UN projections) 1 India 2 China 3 Nigeria 4 US 5 Indonesia http://t.co/k2KnEyDzIJ pic.twitter.com/5GmyUEzTvJ
— Conrad Hackett (@conradhackett) August 4, 2015

Tweet without link:

Most populous countries 2050 1 India 2 China 3 Nigeria 4 US 5 Indonesia 6 Pakistan 7 Brazil 8 Bangladesh 12 Egypt pic.twitter.com/4H80c83TFu — Conrad Hackett (@conradhackett) August 4, 2015

This example demonstrates that images and stats can stand on their own without a link attached. Users may be more inclined to share an image or message without a link because it removes that extra step of having to click through to skim an article. The decision-making process to share is much simpler.

Buffer found similar results after studying 1 million tweets from their users. Tweets without links received approximately 25.1 percent more engagement in Buffer’s sample than tweets with links.

Buffer pointed out that this may be due to the behavior differences between various Twitter accounts, particularly how brands tend to promote external content through links on Twitter versus personal accounts that are more conversation-focused (using fewer links).

No links. Now what?

If your brand decides to post fewer tweets with links, what would you post instead? Images are one answer. Tweets with images typically don’t include a link, Buffer found. Adding images to tweets can almost guarantee higher engagement. SumAll reports that using images increases the number of favorites by 89 percent and retweets by 150 percent.

SumAll has also found that including quotes can increase chance of retweets by 19 percent, and numbers or statistic-related tweets can increase engagement by 17 percent. GIFs, videos, questions and data are other examples of content that could stand without the support of a link.

Hashtags can increase engagement and longevity of tweets, too—as long as you don’t overdo it. SumAll has found two hashtags to be a good rule of thumb.

The bottom line? Brands and social media marketers should test different content to see how it impacts the engagement of their Twitter account. Providing an array of content within tweets allows for diversity in followers’ feeds, and most importantly, a greater chance that they’ll notice your content first.