Lessons for journalists on how to get retweeted

If you work in the news business, tweets with photos or a quote lead to greater engagement.

That’s one of the findings from research by Twitter on what messages get the most retweets.

Twitter data scientist Douglas Mason analyzed more than two million of tweets sent by verified users in the U.S. in the areas of government, music, news, sport and TV.

The results confirm that tweets with photos, links and video do well in terms of engagement.


But exactly which type of message gets the most retweets depends on the industry. If the you are in the TV business, tweets with quotes get a 53% bump in retweets. Posts with a video link get a 48% boost. Videos are the most retweeted for the music sector.

But for those in the news business, a video URL only lead to a 15% bump. Instead visual content like photos is far more likely to get someone to hit the retweet button. Tweets with photos got

Unsurprisingly, photos were key for sports, leading to a 48% boost. Perhaps more surprisingly was that the use of hashtags fueled retweets by 37%. By comparison, hashtags were the least significant factor in news.

The research illustrates that need for a nuanced and sophisticated approach to Twitter and social media in general. Different audiences for different topics on different platforms behave in different ways.