Published research promoted on twitter reaches more readers. Tweets with graphics are more engaging than those without. Data are limited, however, regarding how to optimize a multimedia tweets for engagement
The “Three facts and a Story” trial is a randomized-controlled trial comparing a tweet featuring a graphical abstract to paired tweets featuring the personal motivations behind the research and a summary of the findings. Fifty-four studies published by the Journal of Hepatology were randomized at the time of online publication. The primary endpoint was assessed at 28-days from online publication with a primary outcome of full-text downloads from the website. Secondary outcomes included page views and twitter engagement including impressions, likes, and retweets.
Overall, 31 studies received standard tweets and 23 received story tweets. Five studies were randomized to story tweets but crossed over to standard tweets for lack of author participation. Most papers tweeted were original articles (94% standard, 91% story) and clinical topics (55% standard, 61% story). Story tweets were associated with a significant increase in the number of full text downloads, 51 (34-71) versus 25 (13-41), p=0.002. There was also a non-significant increase in the number of page views. Story tweets generated an average of >1,000 more impressions than standard tweets (5,388 vs 4,280, p=0.002). Story tweets were associated with a similar number of retweets, and a non-significant increase in the number of likes.
Tweets featuring the authors and their motivations may increase engagement with published research.