Monday, January 26, 2009

ReTweet Demystified

Last week I wrote a blog on Twitter Analytics. In this post I am going to talk about a ReTweet, a Twitter action and a KPI that I mentioned in my previous blog posts on Twitter.

ReTweet is when someone takes your tweet (a post on twitter) and tweets it again so that his/her followers can read it too. ReTweet is where the true power of a network like Twitter emerges.

For example if you have a network of 1000 followers then you are only reaching 1000 people. But if those 1000 (or subset of them) people take your message and ReTweet it so that it is broadcasted to their followers that’s when the message begins to extend beyond its original reach. If the message is compelling then it will be ReTweeted by your followers and their followers and their followers and it will go on.

ReTweet Best Practices

  • How to ReTweet

    You like a tweet and decide to send it your followers. You generally do it using RT, R/T, ReTweet followed by a blank space, the symbol @ and the username of the person who tweeted it and then the tweet. Keeping up with spirit of Twitter, RT has the least amount of characters and is the best way (in my opinion) and the most common way to retweet.


    RT @anilbatra Working on a post on ReTweeting to continue my series of #twitter posts, Anything that you would like me to cover? #wa
    (I know this is more than 140 characters but that’s the not the point).

    Here again is the format of ReTweet RT @username [tweet]

  • Proper ReTweet Attribution

    Since the real power of ReTweet is that it propogates the message byond direct followers so what is the right format of ReTweet when you get a message from JohnDoe that was a retweet of a message of JaneDoe? Should you ReTweet it as a message from JohnDoe or JaneDoe or both?

    The correct way to RT, in my opinion, is to always credit the original tweeter and if you still have room left to add more characters in your tweet then credit the person who sent you the tweet.


    AnilBatra Tweets: Working on a post on ReTweeting to continue my series of #twitter posts, Anything that you would like me to cover? #wa

    JohnSong takes this message and RTs: RT@anilbatra Working on a post on ReTweeting to continue my series of twitter posts, Anything that you would like me to cover?

    Aaronlovelace gets this tweet from JohnSong, he should credit this tweet to anilbatra and if there is still space for more characters then he can RT with johnsong

    Aaronlovlace tweets: RT@anilbatra RT @johnsong Working on a post on ReTweeting to continue my series of twitter posts, Anything that you would like me to cover?

    The main thing to keep in mind is to credit the original Tweeter first and then the person who passed the tweet to you.

    According to a tweet from @agray, you should not add the hashtag (#) again if you are not adding any new insight in the RT. (see the example above, where a hashtag was removed from both twitter and wa).

Why Should You ReTweet?

RT also help you in gaining new friends and followers.
ReTweeting helps you propagate a message to your followers that is relevant to them but might have missed since they don’t follower the original tweeter. They might rely on you as an expert in certain area and it becomes your obligation to your followers to keep them updated on the tweets in your area of expertise.
If you take someone’s message and RT then you are sending a message to that person that you are an ethical ReTweeters and genuinely following that person (and BTW: pay attention to my tweets and return the favor by ReTweeting my messages).

ReTweet as a Measure of Success

As I wrote in my previous blog post, ReTweet is one of the KPIs you should use to measure your Success on Twitter. ReTweets is a measure of how good your tweets are. If you send a message and nobody ReTweets then possibility is that the message was not compelling enough for people to ReTweet or you have followers who really are not paying attention to your tweets. As I said before the ReTweet propagates your message beyond your direct followers. This allows you to reach people who might not have otherwise followed you.

For ReTweets to work we all need to follow the ReTweeting best practices I outlined in this post.

Comments? Questions?

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  1. Anil,
    Well needed article. With the growth and ambiguity of twitter we need these articles to understand the (weak) early standards.

    My comments started to get longer than 140 characters and probably more than a comment as well so I continued our tweet about the use of VIA on my blog. My comments stem from your article and another at the tweetie creator's blog.

  2. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Question: If you want to retweet the link and not the actual text post (i.e. jazz it up), what is the best method?)

  3. I think people us via for retweeting with a change.

    Some text (via @anilbatra).


I would like to hear your comments and questions.