The retweet button is the worst button ever. It discourages conversations, robs you of data, and dilutes your branding.
Let’s get some things out of the way first.
Twitter existed before they made a Retweet button. Retweeting without the button is not plagiarism. Ripping off the text without crediting the user’s Twitter handle is plagiarism.
People copied and pasted the text, put RT in front, and the retweet was born. Twitter shot themselves in the foot when they took an organic, user-generated syntax and made a button for it.
How Do You Old School Retweet?
Watch the video here:
Now, you can take my advice or not. I double-dog dare you to try it for a month.
But my perspective is always to be a help.
I’ll start with the benefits of the Retweet Button.
- People like to be able to say that their tweet was retweeted x amount of times. Even I have fallen into this trap from time to time.
- Some tweets are just too awesome or too long to edit in order to Retweet.
- People claim it curbs traffic on Twitter. I’m not sure if that’s actually true, but I’ll capitulate to the point for the purpose of this post.
A Retweet Stops The Conversation
The retweet is often misused when a reply is more appropriate.
When a “reply” suffices as in a case where “You’re welcome” or “Thank you” are appropriate responses, the retweet makes you look lazy at best — rude at worst. Yep, I said it.
Now, don’t get your feelings all hurt, I’m not going to call anyone out and show screenshots or anything. Just think before you press “retweet.” Is it the appropriate response?
Remember, Twitter is for conversations, not just mirroring a statement back to the original sender.
Users Can Turn Your Retweets Off
Did you know any user can turn off your retweets? I do this often with serial retweeters. It is an option in the drop down menu when you go to a profile on Twitter right after “Report @User as Spam.” Do you want your retweets turned off? I’m guessing you don’t.
The Retweet Button is Bad for
Yes, I said it. When you go to my profile, all you see is my avatar/logo/face. Why would I want to advertise someone else’s brand in my feed? Why am I working hard to build my business, spread my message, strengthen my credibility if I’m just going to mirror back tweets from twenty other people?
Why are you?
By using the “Retweet” button you are advertising another brand on your profile — for free. Whereas, an Old School Retweet (copy/paste with “RT”) is more like an introduction.
Retweets Do Nothing for Your Data
Brands like analytics. We all do. We like to see how our tweets have impressed others. Are they liking our tweet? Are they replying or clicking on our profile?
When you retweet someone else, you’re part of their data. Should one of your followers also retweet that tweet, then it will not be reflected in your Twitter account’s analytics. It’s like you never existed.
Read that again.
Should one of your followers also retweet that tweet, then it will not be reflected in your Twitter account’s analytics.
If most of your tweets are retweets, your analytics will show little engagement, if any.
So, when I press the retweet button, I just become data on someone else’s account.
Twitter Chats and Twitter’s Comment Retweet
If you use this in a Twitter chat, add the hashtag to your comment. Otherwise, your comment retweet will not be seen by the Twitter client. At the time of this update, this is true of TweetChat and Twubs.
Also, Hootsuite doesn’t reliably show comment retweets in mentions. I only see that on Twitter dot com.
People Scan – They Don’t Read
I know it’s hard to believe, but the more followers you have, the faster the home feed scrolls. The only way to avoid this is to make use of the list feature to filter the feed.
The truth is people are scanning the feed for logos/faces/avatars that they know and recognize.
This is also a compelling reason to avoid changing your avatar too often.
When I see a face/logo I trust, I’m more likely to read the tweet, click on a link, and retweet or reply. The retweet button uses another user’s logo which may be unknown to me. Do you want me to ignore your tweets?
The Old School Retweet Prompts New Follows
I know that I am more likely to follow a new person via an Old School RT. Why? If the person retweeting is someone I trust, then I almost always click on the “new-to-me” account and follow.
When you press the retweet button, I probably won’t even notice the tweet in the first place since that user isn’t familiar to me. There is a tiny footnote that “@ThePersonIFollow” retweeted it but the font is so small, I never notice it.
Old School RT Allows Commenting
I can’t help it, I prefer the comment at the front of the Tweet. This also can serve as the start of a conversation.
Remember, Twitter is about the conversation, not just pressing buttons. You do want to talk to people, right?
In this tweet, I added “So true” to the front of the RT of @24Intl’s tweet:
And they wrote back thank you and what-have-you.
Why Do People Love the Retweet Button?
Simple: it’s easy. It’s harder to copy/paste.
Reply instead. Replies are even more powerful than retweets. Why? They allow for the conversation to continue. Twitter is for building affinity.
Affinity leads to loyalty; loyalty leads to sales.
Your reply, instead of a retweet, could also take off.
Here’s a case in point. On January 8, 2021, Rhonda Negard sent a reply to Representative Vernon Jones’ tweet. Stay with me.
As of 8:00 PM Central Time on January 11, 2021, it has been liked 1,400 times. Mind you, she has 500 followers. Not 5,000. Not 50,000. Five hundred followers.
Oh and she sent me screenshots of the analytics. That reply has over 100,000 impressions. I’m pretty sure I’ve never achieved that in my career. It’s amazing.
I’ll Retweet If I Want To
Yes, it’s your account. If that’s how you want to run it, it’s your prerogative. I presume people don’t realize the implications of a retweet. If they’re new to Twitter, they made the button so it’s the way you should do it. Not necessarily. I’m here to give you a perspective of what Twitter was like before the button.
Look at your own twitter feed, would you follow yourself?
Tools in social media change often. Why? Twitter is always changing and the third party programs do, too.
- I copy/paste when I use my phone or Twitter desktop.
- But I spend the most time in Hootsuite with the “RT” type of retweet.
This post was updated 1/11/2021.