Increasing Reach with Twitter Website Cards

Diana Williams (@D_L_Williams) is a social media associate at the University of Virginia.

Leading up to Final Exercises (aka commencement), the U.Va. Social Media tested out Twitter website cards using content from UVA Today.

Website cards, not to be confused with Twitter cards for developers, allow you to feature specific content from a website which you can use in a tweet. According to Twitter, these cards “drive a higher volume of URL clicks since users are able to preview an image, related context and a clear call to action all from their home timeline.”

I won’t bore you with how to set up a website card since it’s fairly easy once you’ve fully activated your Twitter Ads account. Once finished, a card can attach to a tweet and looks like this in the timeline:

A screenshot of a tweet about U.Va. student James Duke.

The Test

To help put it in context, here’s some Twitter data from the month of April. I’m choosing April because it’s a typical month—no significant spikes in traffic due to holidays, sporting events or major campaigns —and it was the month immediately before graduation. Here’s a quick snapshot of our Twitter performance for that 30-day period:

  • 2.8 million impressions
  • 6,000 link clicks

In addition, we hit 30 percent of our follower base (30 percent is necessary to maximize your organic reach) by tweeting from @UVA 169 times during the period or approximately five tweets per day. Therefore, per tweet, we averaged 16,568 impressions and 37 link clicks. Keep this in mind—these numbers are significant.

We attached cards to 20 of our graduate profiles. Here’s how they did:

  • 524,000 impressions
  • 1,600 link clicks

Each carded tweet averaged 26,180 impressions and 80 link clicks. Pretty good, right? However, we decided to tweet four of the graduation cards again, just to see if we were really getting a boost in impressions as well as link clicks. Here’s how one of the four reposted tweets looked originally:A screenshot of a tweet about U.Va. student Brendan Evans.

We then modified the language for the second (mostly to make it fit) with just a shortened link to the content and an image:

For the second tweet, you’ll see that the link clicks went down when compared to the first, but impressions went up. Here are the stats:

Carded (first) Impressions URL Clicks Regular (second) Impressions URL Clicks
Brendan Evans 29175 128 Brendan Evans 47117 96
Rafat Khan 16879 188 Rafat Khan 38541 106
Blake Calhoun 18043 111 Blake Calhoun 46188 79
Shantell Bingham 18893 111 Shantell Bingham 37969 27
Total 82990 538 169815 308
Average 20748 135 42454 77

If you look closely at the second tweet, you can easily guess why the impressions significantly rose– they were shorter and accompanied by images, best practices encouraged by Twitter.

Key Takeaways

Here are three things we learned.

  1. Website cards do exactly as promised—they increase traffic to a specific page on your website.
  2. Website cards can be used strategically to add greater context. All of the information on the card is condensed into a 43 character url which you can further compact by shortening it.
  3. Website cards won’t provide a significant increase in impressions over time. However, observing good Twitter practices—including images whenever possible and tweeting with fewer characters—should bump your institution’s reach.

Website cards worked well for our UVa Today content, and we’ll continue exploring ways to use them in the future. Has your institution used them? What was your experience?

2 responses to “Increasing Reach with Twitter Website Cards

  1. Pingback: Web design and images sizes for social media – Geoff Campbell·

  2. Pingback: Twitter Cards now auto-expand on mobile – Geoff Campbell·

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