Please RT.

20 Oct , 2010 Uncategorized

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.


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5 Responses

  1. “Please RT” can be used for good or evil. I think used sparingly, it’s an effective tool!

  2. KowZ says:

    I was part of this conversation yesterday, and I agree with you. I don’t mind the Please RT on certain messages as long as there is content. If there is no substance to the tweet, the Please RT is ignorant.

    A while back the @RTtoLose account started going nuts on Contest runners who required RT’ing something in order to gain entrance to a contest. This type of Twitter abuse is non-sensical and I actually stopped following people who didn’t think anything of my following them.

    I follow people because of the substance of what they are saying. Filling my tweet stream with useless RTs angers me greatly.

    One thing I would like to point out, is you don’t discuss New Style vs Old Style RTs. New Style RTs will only appear once in your stream, so, if you follow the person making the post and a dozen people RT it, you will only see the post a single time and not 13. Old Style RTs don’t have this logic since they don’t carry the originating message, and so should not be used unless you are specifically adding something to the message you are RTing otherwise you may be spamming someone’s twitter stream unintentionally.

    The reason this is an issue: Some clients have a hard-limit 200 Tweet refresh between calls, meaning that they can only see the most recent 200 tweets even if there were more in the stream. If you go to bed and turn off your client, then reload in the morning and there were 250 Tweets during that time, you would lose 50 tweets from your stream. I’d be quite upset if I missed something important because 20 of my friends decided to RT something I didn’t really care about.

    Also, another annoying thing: Don’t RT another account constantly, or post the same content to multiple accounts. If I wanted to see the updates from the other account, I would follow it.

  3. Six Okay says:

    I’m glad you brought up the NEW/OLD retweet styles. I definitely like the new style for things I just want to spread to my followers.