I’ve written a piece on the Art of the Retweet before but as I continue to work in this area of communications, I see that this art can become finer and finer. I work with a whole range of clients from large brands to individuals and there are obviously some nuances but broadly the below will apply.
This piece is specifically about Twitter and the functionality it offers for sharing posts but the principles are just as relevant for Facebook and Instagram too.
So before you hit that retweet button, ask yourself – why are you retweeting in the first place? I think these are the main reasons:
- The tweeter has asked you too. This could be someone looking for information, charity donations, a missing cat etc. You can just straight retweet this to get it seen by more people but do remember that when you retweet like that, you are injecting a stranger into your followers’ timelines and so they may not pay it as much attention as if it came from someone they know
- You think something is funny or interesting – for this I would always quote tweet and add a comment from yourself. Then you are explaining to people why you are sharing it and adding some more context to the tweet
- Someone has said something lovely about you or your business – it’s always nice to show people positive feedback but I would go for a balance of RT and Quote Tweet on this sort of content. Using quote tweet you can thank the person who said it and continue to engage with them. If it’s from a well known person or brand though you may just want to straight retweet it, as it is more likely to catch people’s eye and you can distance yourself slightly from it and not look like you are showing off! If you are doing an event or something where you get a lot of positive feedback in one go, don’t just retweet them all at once as you will flood people’s timelines, which can be annoying. Favourite them and seed them out a couple at a time
- Someone has said something horrible to you – it can be tempting to RT this and ‘set your followers on them’ but I would always advise you to just to ignore it. Often people who tweet like this are looking for the attention so you are better to leave it. People in the public eye especially, may not realise just how venomous their followers can be in support of them, and the tweeter can end up on the receiving end of a lot of abuse
- You said something great in a tweet and you want to remind people about it – you can now retweet each of your own tweets once
- Someone has replied to one of your tweets with something entertaining, hilarious or brilliant. I would quote tweet a response to this – if you RT it you are making your followers do the work, as the reply might not make sense without clicking in to it to see the original tweet it was responding to. If you quote tweet it then you can add that all important context so that it can be read in its own right
- You agree with or like what the person is saying – do other people need to know this? If not then go for a ‘like’ instead of an RT
For the most part, once someone has chosen to follow you, they will only be seeing tweets from you in their timeline. But I always encourage my clients to think about how their overall twitter page looks, as people will look at that to decide whether to follow you in the first place. If they look at the page and it is just a long line of retweets then they can’t get a feel for the sort of person you are. By using quote tweet, and of course writing some of your own tweets from scratch, you can show your own opinions and interests.