On Twitter, when we see something interesting, we retweet it, or pass it along to others. A quick look at any Twitter page will reveal a whole bunch of items marked RT, or using Twitter’s built in retweet function. Clearly, we like to pass along what we find.
A retweet has been described as saying “Amen!” to the preacher when you agree. But we don’t always mean it that way. Sometimes we mean, “I found this interesting.” Or, “this challenged my thinking.” Or, “what do you think about this?” Or even, “what the…?”
But how do your readers take it? How can they tell what you mean?
|Dark-haired people are smart. :)
Tiffany Monhollon, Cory Miller,
Aliza Sherman, and Becky McCray
@TMonhollon, @CoryMiller303, @AlizaSherman and I discussed this (on Twitter, natch) and I wanted to share some points here.
Cory started me thinking, and I kicked off the discussion with this question: “Do you intend to endorse what you retweet? Or are you just passing it along? Perception matters.”
Cory said he had a customer ask if he was endorsing a retweet. “I only put my name on things I absolutely believe in.” He continued, “I find all kinds of interesting but it’s not an endorsement – I try to protect my name & am jealous of my social capital”
I admitted that I have retweeted things I thought were provocative, without necessarily agreeing. I also consider whether I want my name associated with items I tweet directly. So, I realized that I might retweet something I would not tweet myself.
Aliza agreed. She said, “Interesting about endorsing what you retweet or just passing along. I’m guilty of both.”
I asked, “How do we know which you intend?”
Aliza and I both said we had not thought through these perceptions before. Sometimes we retweet before we read an item, retweet something as a favor, or retweet favorite brands to show support.
Business Retweeting Guidelines
Tiffany asked, “Also, how do people take it when a company account that shares & RTs?”
I said, “I think a company account must be more judicious about retweeting. Do you want to endorse all items?”
Cory said, “company accounts to me are more for relationship building & communication than RT content.”
Aliza said, “I would hope most people realize a retweet doesn’t necessarily mean ‘endorsement’ & each of us ‘has our reasons’.” She continued, “I think w/o comment it is more endorsement or trust. W/comment is obvious. I often put ‘interesting’ or ‘useful’ as comments.”
I said, “But at first glance, you cannot tell the intent of an RT. Don’t expect everyone to take time to guess.”
I’ll give the last word to Cory. He said, “I love using Twitter but I’ve also realized I’m a gatekeeper of trust for our community who follow my tweets.”
Want the full discussion? Download a PDF of our tweets. (It’s in reverse chronological order, of course, so start at the bottom to see the first of the discussion.)
Had you thought about whether you endorse everything you retweet?
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Andy Hayes | Travel Online Partners says
Great points – I see lots of RTs that I click and think, did you actually read that?!?
I am always quite careful on what I RT that yes, as you say, I am comfortable associating it with my name.
As for ‘business’ accounts, I suppose it depends on the type of business. Becky and Sheila’s Tourism Currents account, for example, is an information service bonanza. Other accounts are more of a customer service channel (Jetblue?) though would have though the occasional RT from their partner suppliers as well as awesome stuff from their fans (Twitpics of new planes, interviews with staff, etc etc) would build a good following.
I agree with Andy: better being careful on the contents one RT. Personally, I read almost all tweets before RT and very rarely, if I happen to have too little time, I do some ‘blind’ RT of people I strongly trust (Andy doesn’t know, but he is one of them…)
Regarding RT and shared contents I have often wondered how much automatic RT accounts for poor quality. And apart a few really non-sense, I also try to remember that we all have different opinions and tastes and passions. I’m pretty sure that I have RT things that I found interesting and someone else might have thought: ‘so what?’
Anyway, the topic is interesting and I’d be curious to read more comments.
Becky McCray says
Andy, Simon, thanks for helping add to the discussion. I can remember times I retweeted an item *because* I found it challenging or controversial. Now I will be more careful to communicate my intention in those cases.
Great topic and post Becky! This could be analyzed on so many different levels. I personally think there are times when I endorse, times when I promote, and then time when I am not doing either…just sharing for the sake of trying to add value to someone who might find the Retweet useful or of entertainment value. I see a lot of people Retweeting for promotion only and over doing it. That type of interruption based method is surely to disengage community from their networks. I find it fascinating to think about “what are we doing when we actually retweet something”. I could compare it to verbally passing word of mouth in face to face circumstances. That concept might make one rethink what comes out of their keyboards, or in other words, virtual mouth. How authentic or unauthentic is it to not endorse what the Retweet is conveying? I don’t think we’ll ever know the answer to that one. But I’m probably wrong :) Love to hear more thoughts on the subject. One of the most thought provoking posts I’ve read in a verrry long time!
I agree with you that you must only retweet what you believe in. I find it annoying when I read direct messages that promotes a product, or those who promote something out of their niche. But the unforgivable of all are those #FF or follow fridays mentioning a whole bunch of people that takes too much space on your twitter wall. Thanks for this sharing though.
Becky McCray says
Dan, you made a good point about over doing the retweet. I’ve seen people whose whole stream is nothing but a series of retweets, with no conversation. Not engaging at all.
Issa, I hope you’ll forgive us all for promoting things a bit outside of our niche. We all have real lives and many interests. Have to agree on the endless lists of #FF posts with no explanation. I’ll do an occasional endorsement of a single follower, but don’t do long lists.
Late to this discussion, but as always have opinions. I am getting more careful about what I retweet. I have made myself a promise not to use the Twitter retweet button, but to reply. I like saying Yes! instead of amen.
As for #FF..don’t do. And thank-you from me is rare. My regulars know I appreciate them and retweets. I consider Twitter a 2 way conversation. Of course, I twitter for fun not business and have a goal, check my bio.
Would we even be having this a conversation if Facebook hadn’t plastered “Like” buttons all over the Internet?
Becky McCray says
Miss Dazey, you’re right on time. Love your perspective on saying yes instead of amen.
Here’s Miss Dazey’s bio:
“Decided my #1 goal on twitter is to give Positive Reinforcement, a shoulder to lean on, and share my fun personality. Life is PRECIOUS!
That is an admirable goal.
Becky McCray says
MacSmiley, I blush to admit this conversation was on April 8, and I finally got it posted here. The Like button came out on April 20. So, yeah, I guess we would, since we did.
Joe Sewell says
This brings up an interesting contrast between the “roll-your-own” RT-style retweet and the built-in version. With the former you can squeeze in a comment; with the latter you cannot. I tend to use the manual RT when I want to add a “thumbs up” or a “Consider This” (the title of my blog) or whatever. The latter is given as “food for thought,” and not necessarily as an endorsement.
Perhaps we need to figure out a way to get to a specific tweet in your timeline (like you can with a reply), run it through bit.ly (or t.co now, I guess), and add your own comments there?
I cannot imagine a company account retweeting, aside from the consultant or self-employed.
Becky McCray says
Joe, I’ve seen companies retweet useful links, articles, and even compliments and customer comments. Just depends on the company and their goals.
Tiffany Monhollon says
Becky – Glad to see the post this generated! I’ve definitely given more thought to what I personally RT and what I re-share on our company account. I will say however, that I have noticed engagement levels change somewhat with less RTing from the branded account. I think there’s something to be said for the appreciation people still show when others share their ideas :)
But I love the idea of adding some context to what you share to frame how you think about the content. “Interesting:” is probably a favorite of mine because I love things that make me think (whether I agree or not!)
Good convo, interesting reading the rest of the comments!
Paul Merrill says
Be careful what you tweet.
That saves a world of trouble sometimes.
Becky McCray says
Yes, Paul, absolutely.