Experiment: What kind of sponsored tweet has a higher click-through rate?

Bad news for all billionaires who read social media blogs: When it comes to advertised tweets, money can't bring you happiness.

(Whether it will bring you meaning and happiness in real life we ​​will be up for debate. Personally, I'm pretty sure my life would be vastly better if I had enough money to buy the McBarge, but I digress. )

While run an advertising campaign on Twitter (or some other social platform for that matter) could get your post in front of the right eyeballs, 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 end up buying only one delivery mechanism. The content you serve has yet to be done – whether your target is click-throughs, engagements, approvals, or good old-fashioned LOLs.

But what content will get the job done on Twitter? Despite the fact that Twitter ad engagement has increased 27% over the past year, it's not always 100% clear what makes a successful campaign.

This month, on behalf of science, the Hootsuite social team boldly put their Twitter feed to the test to find out if advertised Tweets with images 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 quickly grow your Twitter following 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: This results in a higher click-through 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 release of the results of the Digital 2021 report, the Hootsuite social team had designed a series of infographics that included some interesting insights from the annual report.

They designed an entire campaign around these images with the goal of increasing traffic to see the full report. The idea was that Twitter users would want to see these interesting pictures and click through the URL to find out more. Foolproof … right?

Unfortunately, while the advertised tweets received a high number of views and engagement, only a few users actually clicked through. The cost per click was $ 3. Ouch.

"It was a historically bad campaign," laughs social engagement specialist Nick Martin.

Like any good social media manager, Nick watched the campaign numbers closely as they rolled out 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 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 the click-through rate improve if the tweets being advertised only used a link preview instead of a separate image and link? Only one way to find out.


To test his hypothesis that users click the picture and not the link, Nick launched a new wave of advertised tweets called the just presented a link and measured its effects over the course of a month.

(To be clear, these tweets had an image, provided an image is automatically generated in the link preview, but these weren't stand-alone images designed to be shared on Twitter.)

But first he would need to analyze the image-based advertised tweets to benchmark the measurement. It turned out that between March 1 and April 11, 19 advertised tweets with images ran out and achieved a click-through rate of 0.4%.

This report breaks down everything that has changed in the last quarter. Is mobile use active? Are people's buying habits different? How can your company take advantage of the changes? Answers to these and other questions 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! 🏆

You can find and analyze further 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 'less is more' situation,” he says.

This is what happened …


TLDR: Sponsored tweets with link previews from sponsored tweets carried out with images.

Nick sent four link preview ad 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. Dive deep into ALL global data we have for you. https://t.co/SiXytc59wy

– Hootsuite (@hootsuite) April 12, 2021

This advertised tweet with a 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 USD.

Released! Our # Digital2021 report has been updated for the second quarter. Take a look at ALL the data we have for you here 👇 https://t.co/v9HvPFvCfb

– Hootsuite (@hootsuite) April 28, 2021

Meanwhile, this promoted tweet (only one link, no image) got 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.)

That being said, it's important to note that while this change was very useful for getting click-throughs, it may not help if click-throughs aren't part of your social media goals.

For example, the advertised tweets with photos actually had a very high engagement rate. 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 that 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.

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.

When choosing and formatting your media, be sure to make sure 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 the analytics

A social campaign is not a set-it-and-forget-it operation. 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 analyzes and don't be afraid to switch tactics if necessary. Check out our complete guide to Twitter Analytics here.

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's full of even more overwhelming statistics 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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