Retweeting on Twitter (or RT) means sending someone else’s tweet out to all your followers.  As a result, a tweet I’ve composed will only appear in the timeline of people who follow me.  But if someone retweets it, it will also appear in the timeline of their followers, and so on.

Here’s a few of my thoughts on RTs!

1. Massive spread

Imagine the scenario…. You are new to Twitter and have one follower.  That person has 1000 followers.  They retweet your tweet so your spread has now gone from 1 to 1000.  3 of those 1000 also retweet it.  Each of those also has 1000 followers.  You’re now up to a spread of 4000.  4 of those retweet it (all with 1000 followers), spread is now 8000, etc, etc.  Of course spread is different from the numbers actually seeing it as not everyone will be logged in at that specific time.  But you can definitely see the value in being retweeted (especially over and over).

2. Testimonial replies

If someone thanks you for a great talk you’ve given, great service you’ve provided or great product you’ve delivered, and they do this via replying to you, the only people who will see this in their timeline are those who follow both you and that person.  If it’s a great endorsement or testimonial, you want to shout out about it!  So retweet it!  A great way to do this is to edit it and add your own comment on the end, e.g. “RT @user @_Samflynn thanks so much for the great social media advice today / you’re welcome!”  You’ll see I’ve separated my response at the end with a forward slash.  By doing so I’m spreading the endorsement and responding at the same time.  To do this on Twitter you’ll have to copy and paste the tweet into the ‘compose message’ box to edit on your response.  Don’t forget to type in ‘RT @username’ at the start.  Hootsuite allows you to edit RT’s!  So use Hootsuite!

3. The RT conversation

In the example above, I’ve had a purpose for RT’ing and responding.  But it’s a bugbear of mine when people do this with every tweet!!  In my opinion, you shouldn’t have a conversation with someone by constantly RT’ing their tweets with your response at the end.  It’s almost like talking to someone in the pub and whatever they say you repeat before giving your response!  To be honest, we don’t want in on your conversations.  So keep them to replies.

4. Please RT

Again another bugbear.  You’ve got something to sell.  Great!  So have most of us.  So give us a more compelling reason to RT than ‘please RT’.  If you’ve built up enough trust that people believe in your product or service, they should automatically want to RT for you anyway.  Do the hard work initially by building up relationships and engaging with people!

5. Running out of characters

With each tweet you have 140 characters.  That includes retweets.  The problem with retweets is that additional characters are added in the form of ‘RT’ and the username of the person who initially composed the tweet.  For example, adding “RT @_SamFlynn” at the front of a tweet adds on 14 characters.  You can imagine for longer tweets, you will miss off the end of the tweet by adding in ‘RT @username’.  So, if you want to be retweeted, try to keep your tweets to less than 120 characters.  And if you want to RT someone with a longer tweet, you will have to edit their tweet.  E.g. change ‘and’ for &, or remove info that isn’t necessary.  Again, much easier to use Hootsuite or similar platforms to edit.

So retweets are definitely powerful.  Just make sure you use them properly!