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Posts Tagged ‘Re-Tweet’

When Is A Re-Tweet Not A Re-Tweet? When It’s Something I Never Actually Said

The re-tweet is one of the backbones of the Twitter system and it plays a significant part in making links, and the sites and articles that they lead to, go ‘viral’. The ripple effect of a message getting re-tweeted throughout the network is a beautiful thing to see, and if you’re the recipient of all that resulting traffic, a reason for some celebration.

However, you have to be careful. I’m not a subscriber to the notion that suggests it’s poor etiquette to alter the existing prose when doing a re-tweet, but I do think you have to make distinctions between what the original poster (OP) said, and anything you have added yourself.

On several occasions I’ve seen things that I’ve never actually said ‘re-tweeted’ in my name, simply because the re-tweeter changed all the words but left the RT @Sheamus part alone. Often this is an accident on their part, and it can end up with amusing consequences.

Or far more severe ones; like the @reply, you could do a lot of damage to a person’s reputation with a series of re-tweets if you intentionally set out to make an individual ‘say’ things that they never did. Not only does this bad information go out to everybody in your network but, perhaps ironically, thanks to further re-tweets, it has the potential to quickly spread to millions of people.

RT @KarlRove I was rooting for Obama all the way!

This is why I use and recommended the via tag over the RT. For me – and I accept this might be a personal view – the RT should, for the most part, be a literal re-posting of the original message. If you tamper with it, I think you need to do everything you can to ensure that your words are clearly separate from the OP’s. More often than not the RT @Username part comes first, right at the beginning of the message, and I think that the words that follow are seen by the majority as coming from that user.

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So, You Want A Re-Tweet Button On Twitter.com?

Twitter.com commands just an estimated 32 per cent of all Twitter activity, which is incredibly low when you think about. Imagine if Facebook boasted that kind of share for their 200-million strong audience; people would be talking. And with complete justification.

(This low number also, incidentally, explains in part the recent hype – and reaction – to Twitter’s 60% drop-off rate amongst new users, as Nielsen, who took the measurements, only accounted for Twitter.com, and not all the external clients, which make up the bulk of all interactions with the service, certainly from seasoned members.)

There’s a good reason why – Twitter.com is an entirely limiting way to interact with the Twitter stream. That statement, true as it is, is pretty insane for any website, let alone a social media platform. Somehow, Twitter gets away with it; at least, for now.

Even the most basic functionality from the site is missing. I’ve discussed recently on this blog the importance of the re-tweet, an event that takes place millions of times a day within the Twitter stream. So frequently, in fact, that’s it’s an accepted part of the experience, but Twitter.com, despite many upgrades, hasn’t considered it significant enough to provide us with a re-tweet button. Has the world gone mad?

Perhaps, but there is a solution. In fact, there are three.

Why Do We Need A Re-Tweet Button?

If you’re unsure of the significant of the re-tweet, please read my article, “In Defense Of The Re-Tweet.

Okay, like me, you might predominately use TweetDeck or a different Twitter client for all your networking. That’s great, even admirable. But think of everybody else. Lots of folk have to use Twitter.com – maybe they’re restricted at work, or their computer isn’t powerful enough to run an external client.

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In Defense Of The Re-Tweet

There’s been some talk of late in blogs and on Friendfeed that the humble re-tweet might be, in fact, at best stupid, worse, a nuisance. As Louis Gray writes in his piece:

“Twitter is a land where 140 characters is all you’ve got to express yourself. If you think you don’t have enough interesting data to share 140 characters of your own, but instead need to piggyback on someone else’s tweet, then maybe you should rethink why you’re using the service.”

Louis earlier suggested that begging for re-tweets is lazy; that repeating what somebody else has said doesn’t add anything to the conversation.

He isn’t alone; Dave Winer and others this week have been beating the re-tweet into submission, suggesting that what Twitter needs is the ‘like’ service that other social networks use (Friendfeed, Digg, Reddit etc).

While I agree that there are right and wrong ways to re-tweet submissions – or, indeed, to ask for them to be re-submitted from your followers – I think completely dismissing the re-tweet is misguided. It serves a purpose on Twitter that makes it unique to that platform.

The Re-Tweet

The Re-Tweet Gives Credit

However you choose to re-submit a tweet – using RT, re-tweet or via (I will address the differences later) – it’s important that credit is given to the original poster. The re-tweet does this effectively and with a minimal waste of characters.

Additionally, the re-tweet is (or should/can be) an endorsement of the person, too. When I re-tweet somebody I’m fairly mindful about whom it is I’m re-tweeting. Even the most obnoxious ass is capable of at least one good tweet, much like every amateur is capable of one pro golf shot. It doesn’t mean the rest was up to par. I take that into consideration when I RT; I’m saying to you, this content is good, and this is a good guy.

Because you give credit, the original poster has an excellent chance of picking up some new followers and meeting some new folk. And vice versa.

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Want To Get Re-Tweeted? Memorise Your Number

Getting a re-tweet (RT) on Twitter not only feels pretty good but can go a long way to driving more traffic to your blog or website (or anywhere else that you care to recommend).

An example of a re-tweet

Problems can occur if your tweet is too long for the reader to comfortably RT. You have to remember that each RT automatically adds a string of characters to your original tweet. These include the length of your username, and five additional characters: the ‘RT’, the space after that, the ‘@’ symbol before your name, and the space afterwards.

RT_@Sheamus_The original tweet goes in here...

If you stretch your tweet out too close to the maximum 140 characters, the re-tweeter will often have to perform some crafty editing to ensure your name and those other essential characters fit within the limit of their tweet. This can be undesirable for you; because of this, sometimes key nuances and tone can be lost and occasionally your links can be accidentally edited or changed.

There’s an easy formula you can learn that takes the pain out of ensuring your tweet has a good chance of an RT and makes it a lot easier for your followers to handle.

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