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Posts Tagged ‘via’

Lessons In Twitter Etiquette – Is It Okay To Remove Typos And Spelling Errors From Retweets?

This is potentially tricky. Particularly so for brands.

Somebody – let’s call them a potential customer – mentions your brand or product favourably on Twitter, either openly or in a linked review. You want to retweet to thank them, but there’s a problem – their tweet contains a stinker of a typographical error, and the Grammar Nazi purist in you can’t bring yourself to retweet without a little creative editing.

But is this the right thing to do?

Of course, if you’re using Twitter’s internal retweet system, you have absolutely no way to edit the tweet, and everything goes out entirely as is.

However, if you’re a little old-school, and like to use the original retweet method, then this does present a dilemma. And it’s not just for brands, either. Tons of great links on Twitter are accompanied by really lousy prose.

So, what’s the solution? What’s fair? It largely depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Some people don’t pay much attention to the quality of their prose, spelling and grammar, and likely wouldn’t notice (or care) if you made a minor correction to their tweet.

Others will notice, and might take offense. This could potentially hurt your relationship. After all, they’ve said something nice, but it seems that all you care about is that they used ‘there’ instead of ‘their’.

Others still care WAY too much about the quality of tweets, taking it to vigilante levels, and crazy as this might seem, if you don’t show an acceptable level of care in what you allow into your timeline you risk impacting those relationships, too.

Here’s my tip – if in doubt, it’s better to change everything than just one thing.

What I mean by that is if you want to retweet something and give the original poster the proper credit (as you should), but there’s a grammatical or spelling mistake in there that physically brings you pain, then

  1. Seek medical help, but first
  2. Rather than just fixing the one or two words they screwed up (thus risking an emotional retort), rewrite the entire headline copy from scratch and simply credit them as normal at the end of the message (perhaps with the via hat-tip, which is my personal preference)

People do this all the time, so nobody is going to object if they see you doing this. You’re still giving credit, and that great link is now getting more attention. However, if your only visible change is to remove an unnecessary apostrophe from it’s, you should be aware that, silly as it may well seem, the original poster might take offense. And perhaps with good reason.

PS. Almost without fail, the absurdity of a typographical error in a tweet is always directly proportional to how many times it has been retweeted before it is noticed. Happens often enough to me that they might as well call it Bennett’s Law. Still, it can’t hurt to try and make everything perfect.

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Want To Get Re-Tweeted? Memorise Your Number (Reloaded)

Back in March I wrote an article that explained how you needed to ensure that you left a certain amount of characters at the end of your tweets if you wanted to seriously improve your chances of being retweeted.

This is the mathematics:

Your Number = length of username + five characters

To give yourself the best possible chance of a retweet, you need to make sure you leave this many characters free.

In the article I noted that my own number was 12. When sharing links and content, I always ensure I leave a minimum of 12 characters at the end of each and every tweet. This is a great habit to adopt. Otherwise, those wanting to retweet you are forced to edit your submissions so that they can give the proper credit. Because f this extra work, many times, they simply won’t bother retweeting you at all.

Worse, your prose can be severely impacted – personally, I hate it when somebody trims down my carefully-worded remark into something that (shudder) looks like text speak. Everybody who reads that now thinks that I write in text speak. The horror, the horror…

As said, I’m always very careful to leave the necessary 12 characters. Recently, however, I started to notice that despite this effort, a few were still editing my prose to fit it all in. At first, I couldn’t understand why they felt the need to do this – after all, I’d made every attempt to ensure that my update could be easily retweeted.

Then it suddenly hit me – they weren’t using Twitter’s more common RT. They were using via.

What’s quite tragic about all of this is I use via, too. That’s pretty much all I use. I like via because it places the emphasis on the content first, and credits the original poster second. Content is king, but it’s also important that credit is given where due.

But it’s not all roses, as via adds an extra couple of characters to each retweet. Typically, via is credited within parentheses, like this:

Want To Get Re-Tweeted? Memorise Your Number (Reloaded)

Because of those parentheses (and the space before the first), I (@Sheamus) actually need to leave a heady 15 characters of blank space in my updates to give myself the best possible chance of a retweet.

Jack Schofield, using the example above, needs to leave 21.

Hence, the mathematics has changed.

Your Number = length of username + eight characters

This is the absolute minimum amount of space you should always leave at the end of each and every tweet. Particularly if you’re sharing linked content or an important message.

That’s assuming, of course, you actually want the world to see it.

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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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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