Did you know that tweets containing photos are almost twice as likely to be retweeted as tweets that don’t contain photos? But not all pictures are equal. Only tweets that share photos via Twitter’s native service (shown in tweets as a link to pic.twitter.com) actually show up in tweets and receive increased engagement.
Dan Zarella of Hubspot analyzed nearly half a million tweets using the four most popular ways to share photos on Twitter. He found that tweets using Twitter’s pic.twitter.com were 94% more likely to be retweeted than others, and that tweets including Twitpic links had a 64% greater chance of being retweeted. Links that contained photos from Facebook were 47% less likely to be retweeted than tweets that didn’t, and tweets containing Instagram photos were 42% less likely to be retweeted than tweets that did not.
The data makes sense given that these social networks are constantly feuding, to the point that Facebook’s Instagram recently disabled Twitter Photo Cards from appearing along with tweeted Instagram photos. Instead of thumbnail images, Instagram pictures now appear as plain links in tweets. Instagram hoped this move would draw more users to its site to see Instagram pictures, but in return less people are engaging with Instagram links from Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter Cards, it would be interesting to see a study showing the engagement level of various post types supported by Twitter Cards like article snippets, photos, videos, etc. too. Photo Cards automatically appear in tweets that contain article links: just try to tweet this article to see for yourself! Your tweet won’t link to pic.twitter.com, though, but rather to DashBurst! Perhaps we will try our own study here soon.