Embed images, not Instagram links, for more Twitter engagement

You’ve probably heard that tweets that include images generate better-than-average engagement, and it seems to be a logical assessment. After all, social media is truly a visual medium.

Instagram is a wildly popular social network, and its original “Twitter for images” reputation helped users understand the medium, spurring the rapid growth that eventually led to its acquisition by Facebook. In turn, Twitter struck back by not allowing its images to be natively displayed in tweets.

As a brand marketer, you’re probably thinking it may make sense to link to your Instagram images on Twitter to help give your Instagram account more exposure. That’s certainly a reasonable objective. But if you’re looking to reach more people, and reach folks who may otherwise never see your content, embedding the image is the way to go.

To test this theory, I sent out two separate tweets to the Celtics Twitter account with identical content about 12 hours apart. The tweet shows Rajon Rondo handing out food to families in need at The Greater Boston Food Bank just before Thanksgiving. It’s a feel-good story and one that has retweet legs for sure. The only difference being that the first tweet included a link to the Instagram, and the second one used an embedded image.

The results? The embedded image tweet got as much interaction in its first 30 minutes as the Instagram tweet got in 12 hours. I certainly wouldn’t claim that it’s an apples-to-apples comparison, given the 10PM time of the first post and the 10am time of the second post, but it’s still worth consideration. And given that our Twitter account has 1.2 million followers all over the globe, the time a tweet goes out probably doesn’t have as much impact as you might imagine it would.

For an update on the numbers, take a look at the Retweet and Favorites below:

With Instagram:

With Embedded image:

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