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Re-tweeting is just a matter of hovering over a Tweet and clicking the re-tweet symbol.

So why does it need a whole article for itself?

Well, re-tweeting is as important as tweeting itself; many of us re-tweet much more often than we Tweet.

Why re-tweet?

Personally, for every Tweet I make, I re-tweet 13 times as this graph of my last 3,600 Tweets from twtrland shows:

There are three main reasons for re-tweeting:

  1. One of the main pleasures of being on Twitter is to explore and interact with other people. We probably wouldn’t be on Twitter if we didn’t find enough interesting people to follow whose tweets we wanted to share.Indeed, there are lots of probation staff in particular who thoroughly enjoy keeping up with debates about emerging practice, desistance theory (for which follow @fergus_mcneill) etc. on Twitter whilst rarely tweeting themselves.
  2. You may remember from last week’s post that research tells us that information sharing is the thing that many people like best about Twitter. What better way to share information than by a quick RT?
  3. Re-tweeting is one of the main ways we develop online relationships with other tweeters. When we RT someone, we are telling them we value their comment (or link). Most of us are drawn to follow a Tweeter who likes our tweets enough to re-tweet them to their friends and followers.

What makes a good RT?

Obviously you can just click RT and you’re done.

But there’s a lot more you can do with a re-tweet to add value and make it more interesting. It’s also why key twitter messages benefit from being less than 140 characters.

As you can see from above, three-quarters of my tweets are either RTs or links – which are very similar in purpose as what I am doing in both cases is bringing content I think is interesting to the attention of my Twitter followers.

There are a number of useful things you can do with a RT, but first a Golden Rule:

Don’t re-tweet any content you haven’t read yourself.

Of course, you’re not really liable for something that someone else has written.

I don’t think it’s necessary to waste precious characters in your Twitter profile by saying: “Re-tweeting content does not necessarily indicate approval” as some people have started doing.

However, you are associating yourself with that content and over time people will choose to follow you if you send interesting information your way, and unfollow you, if you direct them to dross.

Five ways to make RTs interesting

  1. Summarise the content of the link “Govt case for PbR” to give people an indication whether they might be interested.
  2. Bring it to a group of Tweeters’ attention “Attention all #PCSOs”
  3. Flag it up to a Twitter friend. If you come across an article about something you’ve recently been discussing with people online (or even in the real world!), when you RT, you can add their @twittername to make sure they see it. You might also want to bring good newsTweets – reductions in re-offending or crime rates – to key local politicians or commissioners in the same way.
  4. Rate the content. If you think a tweet or a link is particularly good, you can rate it: “Don’t miss” “Great blog” etc.
  5. Add your insight. If you think a tweet or link is a bit different because of its high or appalling quality, the fact that it is bang on or miles off, then you can add a pithy, wry commentary to get people interested: “No wonder Ken Clarke wears #hushpuppies”

Practical bits and pieces

Depending on which Twitter client you use (to be covered on a future Wednesday), be careful that re-tweeting does not make any link drop off the end of your 140 characters.

If you have to edit a Tweet in order to add your comments, it’s polite to change RT to MT – “Modified Tweet” instead of “Re-Tweet” – you shouldn’t of course change the meaning, just edit to make space.

And finally

We are all pleased when we get re-tweeted. We want our message to get out to as many people as possible.

It’s good Twitterquette to thank your re-tweeters.

There are, however, very different views on whether you should RT someone’s Tweet or Re-Tweet which says what a wonderful Tweeter you are, or what a great Tweet, Blog etc. you wrote.

Myself and @Clare_Mcgregor think this is poor form, not to say a bit un-British. We already follow people because we like them, we don’t need them to RT other people saying how fabulous they are.

However, many tweeters RT these sorts of positive comments all the time.

You decide.

Next Wednesday: How often should I tweet?

Have a good week till next week.




One Response

  1. Another good post Russ.

    Something that came out of the Bluelightcamp #BLCamp last weekend covered RT’s.

    As you say. Never retweet what you haven’t read yourself. Secondly and more important to me is “verify” the source. Do you know or trust the original tweeter? Have you developed a rapport where you trust their judgement? If an unknown verify them first and be happy you are not retweeting dross, misinformation or rumour.

    Secondly. We all get behind on tweets. We sit looking through the last few hours and see something important.. let’s say a missing 7yr old in Birmingham. WMP may have released this info 4 hours ago. Before you RT, check the original account. The child may have been found and by RT’ing old data you are confusing people and potentially misleading them.

    This was a problem during the riots last year when people got the wrong impression from late RT’s

    Another excellent addition to your series.

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