Quotes drive Twitter retweets

It's well-known that adding visual content gets your tweets re-tweeted more often. But it's not the whole story.

A recent Twitter study found that visual content like videos and photos was the greatest aid in generating re-tweets.

In plain terms, Twitter's study showed that visual content improved retweets by about 30% on average.

That's a useful bit of knowledge. But what do you do if you want to post tweets but can't manage to work up some visual content? Looking deeper into Twitter's data reveals an answer. Something else had an outsized effect on re-tweets: quotes.

Twitter's chart above tracks re-tweets across several categories of tweet ("Was the original tweet political in nature? Or did it have to do with sports?") and shows what effect additional tweet attributes (photos, videos, quotes, etc) had on re-tweet activity.

For TV-related tweets, Quotes outpaced visual content to take 1st place with a robust 53% improvement over the control. Quotes took 2nd place at 25% for the News category and held 3rd place with a 19% RT improvement for the Music category.

Even the relatively mild land of Sports and Political quotes added a double-digit retweeting effect to the tweets they accompanied.

What to make of it?

People like a story. Visual content works well partly for this reason, but a good quote can not only be interesting, it also hints that there's more 'real' stuff on the other end of your tweet. In the generally fluffy social media arena, that's a big plus.

So next time reaching for your camera or sourcing an image proves too much, reach for some quotation marks instead. And for your consideration, see which of these your prefer: one of our tweets, with a short quote and then the same tweet minus the quotation marks.

Our opinion? A quote feels like an inviting sample. Outside a quotation the same information seems less interesting and comes across more like a summary.

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