Should you include an image or video in your Tweets?

On Twitter, a picture is worth more than 140 characters. Right?

It’s common advice – use a visual in your Tweet to get more engagement. Images give you more timeline real estate. They’re more likely to catch the eye of someone quickly scrolling through their feed. They give you another way to pique someone’s interest along with your text. They let you say way more than 280 characters can. On the other hand, visuals can distract from your main CTA, like reading your blog post or clicking through to your website. The wrong image could send the wrong kind of message and discourage any interaction at all.

We know lots of people use images – our timelines are filled with stock photos, GIFs and infographics. In fact, we estimate that more than a third of all Tweets include an image. If you add in videos and GIFs, more than 40% of all Tweets have some kind of visual in them.

So, what’s the answer? Should you add visuals to your Tweets to increase engagement? Lots of people are doing it, more than ever before. Are they right to do so?

At Union Metrics, we’ve analyzed a lot of Tweets over the eight+ years we’ve been building Twitter analytics. And over the past few months, we’ve been looking at recent Tweets very closely to find out what works now. Twitter has evolved a lot the past few years, and what worked then might not hold true any more.

It turns out the answer is yes – you should add visuals to your Tweets. Tweets with images, videos and GIFs tend to perform better than those without, on all engagement dimensions. On average, they get more amplification through retweets and likes, they get more clicks, and they get more impressions. Tweets that are text only or include a link don’t perform as well overall. That doesn’t mean that your text or link Tweets won’t get lots of engagement, but for the typical Tweet, a visual could help.

However, this doesn’t mean that every single one of your Tweets should have an image in it. The most successful Twitter accounts mix it up. To reach the widest possible relevant audience, use a variety of different kinds of content posted at different times with different hashtags. If all of the Tweets in your timeline include an image, that will likely decrease each Tweet’s individual impact. We recommend that you aim for one image or video per three Tweets for maximum impact.

Wondering what else you can do to improve the performance of your Tweets? We’ve got lots more coming on this topic, so stay tuned to the blog over the next few weeks.

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