How to Retweet on Twitter – No, Seriously!

Okay, look – I know what you’re thinking.. “Dan Thies has lost his mind, and started building eHow-style doorway pages.” No. I promise. Here’s the thing…

Most people using Twitter – and sadly, especially, marketers – do not understand how the way you retweet impacts what happens down the line.

So indulge me for just a minute, and think about this. There are (nominally) two ways to retweet:

  1. You can push the “ReTweet” button, and the tweet in question will appear in your Twitter timeline, like this:
  2. You can use the “old style” retweet, often described by Twitter clients as “ReTweet with Comment”

Now, if you’re going with the “new” Twitter ReTweet Button approach (#1), you don’t really control anything, other than what time of day you push the button. If you truly have nothing to add, go ahead and push that button… well, maybe – but there’s one more thing to consider.

No matter which way you do it, the person whose tweet you have just retweeted will see your retweet in the “Interactions” tab on Twitter.com. However, in most Twitter clients the ReTweet-Button retweets will not show up as a “mention,” and the person you retweeted will not know you did it.

But hey, if you have nothing to add, and it doesn’t matter if the original tweeter knows you retweeted (I am pretty sure @CNN does not care if you retweet them, for example), go ahead and push that button.

In most cases, you can add more value by using the old “RT @so-and-so” style of retweeting.

Yes, it will increase your “Klouchebag” score, but that should be exactly as important to you as your Klout score, which is to say, not at all. Apparently some “purists” believe that the old-style retweet is gauche… a faux-pas… but whatever. We bailed the French out in two world wars, so they owe us one. I’m calling in that chip to keep the old-style retweets alive.

Once you see the different ways that you can add value by doing so, I think you’ll agree.

  1. You can add clarity. Check out this tweet, and consider what adding a comment like “Cool art project RT @sernovitz” to the start would do, to help people seeing it understand what they are clicking:
  2. You can give credit where credit is due, and let the author of a story know you care:
  3. You can also skip the whole “RT @” business, write your own tweet, and give a “hat tip” mention via:
  4. You can add hashtags too, so if you’re participating in #SEOChat, and you want to throw an old Tweet into the conversation because it’s relevant, and give credit to the author and the person you learned about it from, you can do that too.

All of these methods, when used correctly, can add value to your retweets, by making them more useful, relevant, and interesting to the people seeing them. I’ve discovered many great SEO people on Twitter, because others took the time to add their handle, or the right hashtag, to a tweet or retweet.

As a marketer, you won’t be successful with social media unless you recognize what the word social implies. Social media is not a product, or an application – social media is people.

The “old-style” retweets allow you to interact with, engage with, and acknowledge the contributions of other people. This is more than a feel-good exercise.

Doing so actually helps to build your following, makes others more likely to retweet your contributions to the conversation, and creates that “I’ve seen you before and I like you” recognition, which you don’t get when people don’t see you talking about them.

Heck, I don’t follow “just anyone” on Twitter, but I do tend to follow the people who are retweeting my stories. I do so because they are very likely to be sharing similar stories, from other people. Stories which are likely to be of interest to me, and which I may not learn about any other way.

This post is long enough… so… let us know if you liked it, and if you’d like to see more of this kind of “foundational” content from the SEO Braintrust.

For a bit more on leveraging social media in your marketing and SEO campaigns, I posted a short video a few weeks back on Building Links with Social Media, which you may want to watch. It’ll take about ten minutes of your time.

Thanks!
Dan

Comments

  1. Great post Dan, seems we often forget that what we add could be more important to the tweet than what the tweet initially was. (Can we change this to “twitter post” instead of “tweet? Tweet seems like such a silly word!).

  2. Rebecca says:

    I’m new to twitter, how do you do the “old style” of retweet then? I mean, what buttons do you press?

    • There isn’t a button for it on Twitter.com, but most Twitter clients have a “retweet with comment” or similarly named feature. That’s what Echofon calls it, I can’t recall what it’s called on Tweetdeck but again, most if not all “non-official” Twitter clients will be able to do this easily.

      On Twitter.com you’re basically gonna copy and paste the Tweet, add RT @whoever or via @whoever and post it.

  3. C.Naveen Reddy says:

    How to retweet more and more times to only one?

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