Yesterday, a small bit of dust was kicked up about whether or not it was okay to ask for followers or to ask for retweets. The implication of an original post was that it was a “faux-pas” to do either of these things. While I’ll definitely back up that it’s generally a faux-pas to ask for followers (hey, I’ve done it once or twice when I’m very close to cresting a milestone number), I couldn’t disagree more about the retweets.
In case you don’t know – but I’m sure you do – a retweet is when you re-post a message from another Twitter user. The idea is that it helps spread interesting posts or content virally, in perhaps the truest sense of the term. Twitter is a platform specifically engineered to spread information virally, and from that perspective, the retweet is perhaps it’s most valuable tool. Not asking your followers to utilize Twitter’s ability to spread messages quickly is to ignore what Twitter is really about.
Now, asking for a retweet isn’t something you’ll want to do all the time. It certainly can appear desperate. And then there’s all of those “Please RT to win!” contests that run amok on Twitter. Those, in my opinion, simply encourage spamming, not information spreading. I’m personally more likely to unfollow an account that is asking for that sort of retweet.
Twitter is a great one-to-many communication tool. However, if you’re anything like me, you’ve come to sort of rely on Twitter as an RSS-like information delivery service. Many folks that I know do this. They have all of their chatter with friends, but they also use the service to track news and information. When you’re using Twitter this way, retweeting a piece of information doesn’t always come to mind first. You read it, take it in, and are thus wiser for it (or maybe not, depending on who you follow). In these cases, I find that asking for a retweet on certain special content helps push people over that consumption-only line. In my experience, putting a simple “Please RT” message on certain tweets actually increases the number of retweets I get, and in turn can increase the viewing of whatever message I’m trying to put out there.
If you’re a provider of content, and you put something special out there that you want to get extra people’s eyes on, I’d go so far as to say that it’s preferable and advisable to ask people for a retweet.
So please… RT.