Friday, April 27, 2012

Retweeting ettiquette

Image Credit
Retweeting is another bit of Twitter functionality that that should have evolved according to how people want to use it. Unfortunately the Twitter developers got the wrong end of the stick this time so it doesn’t quite work the way everyone wants and so a lot of people prefer sticking with old school.

Retweet the Old School way – copy someone’s message, then hit reply so you get @[theirname], paste their message back after their name and slap an RT on the front. If you want to comment on it, add your text in front of the RT or after the message but prefixed by <

Simples! (not)

Apart from being a faff, this is not always feasible without some editing if it’s a long message (another reason to not push the 140 envelope in your own posts – keeps them retweet friendly). 

However the advantage is that you can track the influence of a tweet. If someone retweets your retweet (stay with me), you’ll know about it as well the original author since you'll both get a mention. And the original author will know you helped spread the word (subtext – you’re influential!)

Retweeting the new school way – push the button labelled Retweet. That’s it. It’s low-effort but the disadvantage is that simply spreads the word without any opportunity for you to add your own value/comments or get the credit.  It cuts out the middle-man. The original author learns that lots of people passed on his message but they’ve no way of know HOW those people saw it in the first place so you lose out on a chance to connect.

When to use old school and new school - Best rule of thumb, use old school if you have the time and space. Go for new school if you’re in a hurry or there’s not enough room left for an edit anyway.
How much editing is allowed – you can edit tweets a little bit (remove irrelevant hashtags or unnecessary words); there's no set rule on how much. Generally just respect the original message and do not change the meaning

Credit, Credit, Credit – eventually you’ll reach a point where you can’t use the original tweet and have to write your own, BUT STILL MAKE SURE YOU CREDIT YOUR SOURCE. When all else fails use HT ("Hat tip) or just "via" followed by the original tweeters' name.

Don't overdo it. Although very few followers are going to review your entire twitter feed, some will. And if they see a feed that are entirely comprised of retweets, especially without any comment, they'll assume that's all you do. At best they'll ignore you, at worst they'll report you as a possible spammer.

To retweet or not to retweet? 
It's a question of value - 
-Will other people find this interesting/useful/fun?
-Will I be reaching a larger/different audience to the original message
If the answer to either is NO, but you still want to acknowledge or bookmark the message in some way then use the Favourite (of which more anon).

Happy (re)tweeting.