Can Twitter Threads Increase Reach, Engagement, and Referral Traffic? An Experiment

Can Twitter Threads Increase Reach, Engagement, and Referral Traffic? An Experiment

A Twitter thread experiment What is a Twitter thread? A quick explanation of the data For the Twitter threads, I looked at only the number of impressions and engagements of the first tweet and the number of link clicks of the tweets with the link (usually the last tweet of the thread). But as the impressions and engagements are likely from the same followers, and to simplify our analysis, I considered only the impressions and engagements of the first tweet and the link clicks of the tweets with the link. The respective link was not included in the first tweet of the Twitter threads but mostly in the last tweet of the threads. Twitter threads tend to get more engagements The number of engagements was mostly higher for the first tweet of the Twitter threads than for the tweet with a link. But as Twitter threads seem to get more impressions than a link tweet, it might be possible that Twitter threads would get more link clicks. Overall, Twitter threads seem to perform better than link tweets On average, the Twitter threads received more impressions, engagements, and clicks than the respective tweet with a link. Limitations of the experiment While the blog post for each set of Twitter thread and link tweet was the same, the content of the thread and link tweet was different. Experiment with different content formats Does this mean you should post only Twitter threads from now? People prefer native content Brian Peters, our Strategic Partnerships Marketer, once said how social media platforms should be viewed as the destination for your content rather than the means to get to your content.

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How can you increase Twitter reach and engagement?

That’s something that many marketers are thinking about, including Rand Fishkin, the founder of SparkToro, who has been wondering if Twitter gives tweets with a link less visibility than tweets without a link. And recently I’d been wondering the same.

Then I heard about Aytekin Tank’s 17-million-impression tweet.

Just a few months ago, Aytekin, the founder of Jotform, repurposed one of his popular Medium posts into a Twitter thread. He also promoted it with Twitter ads to see if he could increase the reach of his Twitter thread — and the engagement rate was as high as 20 percent!

So he continued to promote the Twitter thread. Eventually, it received 17 million impressions and the original Medium post (linked in the thread) got more than 35,000 visits.

When I learned about this story, I started wondering how Twitter threads could help marketers. Could this be the new way to reach more people, drive more engagement, and get more referral traffic? Could Twitter threads be effective without ad promotion?

We ran a small experiment to find out.

A Twitter Thread Experiment
A Twitter Thread Experiment

A Twitter thread experiment

What is a Twitter thread?

According to Twitter, “A thread on Twitter is a series of connected Tweets from one person. With a thread you can provide additional context, an update, or an extended point by connecting multiple Tweets together.”

Below is an example of a Twitter thread. If you click on the tweet, you’ll see the additional tweets connected to it.

We spent $3,300,000 buying out our main VC investors.

Here’s a quick summary

— Buffer (@buffer) September 21, 2018

The plan

The objective of the experiment was to test if repurposing our blog posts into Twitter threads can 1. increase our Twitter reach and engagement, and 2. drive more traffic to our blog than tweets with a link.

Our plan of execution was very straightforward:

  1. For each blog post, publish a Twitter thread and a simple link tweet (ideally at the same time, a few days apart).
  2. Record the stats after one to three days

The next step was to draft out the threads and publish them. For this, I worked with our amazing social media manager, Bonnie Porter. I repurposed 10 blog posts into threads while she published them at our best times to tweet.

Here’s what our collaboration document looked like:

Twitter threads experiment document
Twitter threads experiment document

So how did the experiment go?

The result

I think there’s an evidence that Twitter threads perform better than tweets with a link!

Twitter thread experiment data
Twitter thread experiment data

A quick explanation of the data

For the Twitter threads, I looked at only the number of impressions and engagements of the first tweet and the number of link clicks of the tweets with the link (usually the last tweet of the thread). The actual total number of impressions and engagements of the threads (i.e. a summation of the impressions and engagement of each tweet in the thread) is much higher.

But as the impressions and engagements are likely from the same followers, and to simplify our analysis, I considered only the impressions and engagements of the first tweet and the link clicks of the tweets with the link.

Here are the patterns I see from our results:

1. Twitter threads tend to get more impressions

The number of impressions was higher for all the first tweet of the Twitter threads than for the tweet with a link. On average, the threads received 63 percent more impressions.

Perhaps Rand Fishkin is right in that Twitter gives more prominence to tweets without a link. He found that “Tweets without URLs definitely correlate to more engagement+amplification (but this could be a result of user behavior, not intentional network design)”.

The respective link was not included in the first tweet of the…

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