Social Media Content That Works Well on Twitter

This is the final post in a short series about Twitter tactics that work. We’ve already looked at growth tactics and engagement boosting tactics. Now we’re going to look at social media content tactics that perform well.

Good content will help you grow and encourage engagement. But you can’t just post the same kind of thing over and over again and expect your audience to stick around. Variety is the spice of life and the same goes for social media.

A winning social media strategy combines the right goals and a mix of tactics that will help you reach them. They should also speak to the needs, interests and values of your audience.

This article aims to provide inspiration on the different styles of content that work well. We’ve put a range of content tactics head to head to find the clear winners. Here’s the lineup:

  • Media posts vs. text posts
  • Twitter cards vs. attached media
  • Live video with Periscope vs. pre recorded video
  • Sharing other people’s content vs. talking about yourself

The idea is then to test the content types that resonate with you to see if they also resonate with your followers.

Before we jump into the head to head battles, let’s define what we mean by “works best”.

We’re talking about content that engages your audience. So our measure of success when it comes to content is what drives engagement. Engagements are likes, Retweets (RTs), replies, link clicks, follows and any other form of interaction with your Tweets.

Media Posts vs. Text Posts on Twitter

People learn and consume information in different ways. Some people prefer video, some audio (like podcasts), others prefer to read. Regardless of your preference, it’s likely that you’ll understand the message faster if it’s communicated visually rather than having to read something.

This is very much the case on social media – even with Twitter’s short 280 character limit.

Visual content is easy to consume as you go for a scroll through your feed. Images catch your eye faster than text does. And moving visuals are even more engaging.

This is perhaps common sense, but it’s backed up with data.

A post on Social Media Today outlines the different levels of engagement for text, images, gifs and videos:

  • Tweets with images generate 3X more engagement than basic text updates
  • Tweets with GIFs generate 6X more engagement than basic text updates
  • Tweets with video generate 9X more engagement than basic text updates

This information was gathered from a Twitter marketing article. It explained that “Videos are six times more likely to be Retweeted than photos and three times more likely than GIFs.”

These stats are also backed up by Buffer, a social media scheduling tool. A post on their blog says tweets with images receive 150% more engagement than Tweets without.

The evidence is quite strong here: media posts do better than plain text.

Attached Images vs. Twitter Cards

We’ve established that tweets with media outperform plain text. That makes sense – images, gifs and video are more visually interesting than plain text. Who reads anymore, right?!

But, there are a couple of different ways to add media to Tweets: via attachments or via Twitter Cards.

Attachments work just like attaching a file to an email. You can attach an image, gif or video from the Twitter app. Alternatively, you can use any of the popular scheduling tools like Buffer and Hootsuite. Using an attachment results in a Tweet with text and the media displayed below. The media isn’t interactive, it’s just there.

A Tweet with an image attachment looks like this.

A Twitter Card looks similar but is subtly different and is interactive.

In a Twitter Card, the visual element is not an attached image. It’s automatically generated when the link is shared to Twitter. In order for Twitter cards to display correctly there’s a bit of set up to do on your website.

Many platforms like Squarespace, Shopify and WordPress can automatically add this functionality. Or, you can add it manually. Stay tuned for a future tutorial where we’ll show you exactly how, step by step.

So, which is better: attachments or cards?

The short answer is that it’s hard to say; more research is required.

An article on Agorapulse concluded that impressions may be slightly higher without cards. But Twitter Cards do increase engagement.

We haven’t gathered enough data to categorically say whether attachments or Twitter Cards perform best. This is something we’re still testing, but if we do see trends, you’ll be the first to know!

Live Video with Periscope vs. Pre Recorded Video

Video is huge and is a trend set to continue. But it seems that plain old recorded video is no longer enough. All the big social platforms are now pushing live video in a major way.

Each major social platform has invested heavily in live video.

  • Twitter owns Periscope
  • Facebook has Facebook Live
  • Instagram has Instagram Live
  • YouTube has YouTube Live

There are other dedicated live video platforms too, like Twitch TV. Plus other social networks allow you to post video content.

Video is big business.

Competition for attention on social media is tough and organic reach is falling fast. Live video could be the answer to win some of that valuable attention back and connect with your audience without having to pay a fortune.

We may be focused on Twitter in this post but there’s a lot to learn about video from the other networks too. Facebook in particular is pushing live video and have recently been making a lot of changes to the News Feed. In a recent press release, Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed at Facebook stated:

“Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”

There will be many differences between Facebook’s algorithm and Twitter’s. But it’s not unreasonable to expect that live video on Twitter will have similar performance benefits over recorded video.

Live video is happening right now before viewers’ eyes. It makes sense that it encourages more real time interaction.

Social platforms make their money from displaying ads to users. Their goal is to keep people on the platform for as long as possible so they can show them more ads. What’s the best way to do that? Keep people engaged.

The social algorithms will always favour the most engaging content. So if you produce this kind of content – particularly live video – you have the chance to reach more people organically.

The only downside is that producing video content is more challenging. While live video doesn’t need to be highly produced, it does take some consideration. You need to have something worth broadcasting. Plus, you need to have someone willing to get in front of the camera. And that’s not always easy (unless it’s at the office party…)

Industry events are a great way to test out live video. You could also conduct interviews with your customers or internal team. If your work is more B2B, you could consider using live video for teaching. This is something we’re looking into at Sapling.

Video takes more effort but can result in higher rewards – think of the engagement and organic reach. For more ideas on using video content, the Twitter marketing website is a great resource. This Live Video Playbook: How to Leverage Live Video, has some good examples.

Talking About Yourself vs. Talking About Other People

In day to day life, no one likes the person that only talks about themselves. The same can be said on social media. If you only talk about you, you, you and you, your audience may switch off.

Try and mix things up a bit. Talk about other people or brands that share a similar ethos or values to your brand. Share relevant news, events and current affairs.

And relevant is the key word here.

Don’t just share something that’s trending for the sake of getting a few extra likes. Don’t post something controversial just to get a reaction. Whatever you post must be interesting and relevant for your audience. If you always keep the audience top of mind, you’ll ensure everything you post will be relevant to them.

Don’t just talk about yourself.

But that’s not to say that talking about yourself doesn’t work. It does.

People often follow brands because their product or message resonates with them. As such, these brand followers actually want to hear from you and about you.

A couple of notable examples in the food space are Pip & Nut and Ugly Drinks. Both have sizeable Twitter followings – 20k for Pip and Nut and 6.5k for Ugly Drinks UK. And both primarily talk about themselves; and do it well.

In a Tweet about a recent long weekend, Pip & Nut put their brand at the centre of a topical discussion that relates to their brand – breakfast in bed.

In another, they posted a photo of their products and listed the benefits: no palm oil or refined sugars, and a great taste. It’s all them, them, them. But their copy is cheeky and endearing so racks up a similar number of likes to the post above.

Ugly drinks have a smaller following than Pip & Nut but use a similar strategy. They also talk about themselves, their values and their products. Plus they take advantage of their beautiful, striking packaging in a range of creative photos.

In one Tweet they put their product at the centre of a topic their audience can resonate with – Monday Blues.

But a Tweet promoting someone else’s article about female entrepreneurs didn’t perform so well.

This is not conclusive evidence that brands talking about other topics doesn’t work. It does and should be part of a balanced social media content strategy.

What I’m trying to highlight is that talking about your brand does work and does get engagement. Despite warnings about not talking about yourself too much, it’s definitely a valid part of any social media strategy.

At Eco & Beyond we’ve developed a social media framework that ensures we have a good balance across all the different kinds of updates we post. As well as promoting our content, each week we share 21 updates about other people and 17 posts about our brand message and values.

This works well for us but is certainly not a hard and fast guideline. The balance feels good though: we talk about others just a little bit more than we talk about ourselves.

Social Media Content That Works on Twitter

So, there you have it, a fairly unscientific look at content that works well on Twitter. If we can draw any conclusions it’s that there are no strict rules when it comes to how you use social media. But there are some that are definitely worth considering.

Posts that include media, videos and Twitter Cards will outperform plain text.

Video is a powerful force to be reckoned with but is more challenging to produce.

Posting about relevant news, events and other people doing good in your industry, works.

Talking about yourself works too.

To find out what works for you and your brand on social media you have to test each approach systematically. Use analytics to track what you post and measure the results. When you have a good feel for what works, do more of that. And do less of the stuff that doesn’t work so well.

If you’d like some dedicated help with your own social media marketing, do get in touch for a chat. If we’re a good fit, we’d love to help make your social media dreams a reality.