A new white paper from Twitter discusses what types of posts generate the most engagement. While the white paper focuses on small business, we are seeing a “consumerization” of healthcare in the US and I’m a big believer in the idea that people carry their habits from one area of their life to others. Health topics are handled more carefully than, say buying a coffee maker (depending on how much you like coffee), but there are things we can learn from other industries that can help us with our own social initiatives.
This study talks about promoted tweets, for the rest of this blog post I’m just going to refer to “tweets” because I think the insights work for organic usage as well. The purists will want to remember that they are all related to “promoted tweets.”
The Impact of Twitter
For small business Twitter handles, the channel is very engaging. The white paper shows some results of a study. Twitter users said:
- 9 out of 10 users have had a conversation with, or about, an SMB on Twitter
- 73% of users feel better about an SMB after following its account and reading its Tweets
- 60% of users who follow SMBs have purchased something because of Twitter
That’s pretty impressive impact for a channel devoted to short text messages.
Rich Media Rules the Roost
We’ve known that rich media improves social media engagement for a while, and the Twitter study reaffirms this theory.
- 313% increase in engagement for rich media posts
- 52% increase in retweets
When the researchers looked at different types of media they found some differences:
- 256% increase in engagement for posts with Vine videos over simple photos
- 173% increase in engagement for posts with photo series over single photos
Shorter is Better
It might be surprising on a channel like Twitter, but even here people show their limited attention spans. Shorter tweets, those less than 100 characters, get 18% more engagement than longer ones.
Twitter “Cards” Increase Engagement
While tweets are short, the visual representation of referenced content can be quite large. Linking to channels such as YouTube or SlideShare will automatically generate a preview “card” and the channel owner can also use Twitter Cards to present information in a much more visual way. The different types of cards are (from the Twitter page):
- Summary Card: including a title, description, thumbnail, and Twitter account attribution.
- Summary Card with Large Image: Similar to a Summary Card, but with a prominently featured image.
- Photo Card: A Card with a photo only.
- Gallery Card: A Card highlighting a collection of four photos.
- App Card: A Card to detail a mobile app with direct download.
- Player Card: A Card to provide video/audio/media.
- Product Card: A Card optimized for product information.
- Lead Generation Card: A Card optimized for promotional use.
The increases in engagement that the study found were:
- 43% increase for website cards
- 42% increase for lead generation cards
Engagement Begets Engagement
When looking at engagement rates, the study found that accounts that use the Twitter reply at least once a week increased the engagement on their own tweets by 18%. This effect is lower than the visual differences found earlier in the study, but shows that engaging with your audience makes them more likely to engage with you.
Healthcare marketers in highly regulated markets, however, will find some solace that engagement was a much smaller lift in the study than the visual differences described above.
So, for healthcare marketers on Twitter, check your stream and make sure your content is set up for success by incorporating more simple visuals and Twitter Cards.