stop retweeting bridgetwillard.com

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.

  1. 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. 
  2. Some tweets are just too awesome or too long to edit in order to Retweet.
  3. 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
Branding

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.

Screenshot of Rhonda's stats for the reply tweet at 100,000 impressions

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?

Retweeting Tools

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.

About Bridget Willard

Observing human behavior and predicting it is what makes the way I approach content management different. I mirror your voice in my social media management. I analyze your dreams when I consult. I think deeply and respond appropriately. I have time to work on your business. Do you?

50 Comments

  1. CellSeattle (@CellSeattle) on March 19, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Excellent points you have here – why would I want to confuse my audience with multiple avatars from other’s profiled on my page? I will be using the “new school” cut and paste method from here on out! Thanks 😀

    • Bridget Willard on March 19, 2013 at 10:19 am

      You are very welcome!
      I can see that you work hard on Twitter, too.
      Thank you.

  2. Donna Frasca on March 19, 2013 at 3:50 am

    Wow – I didn’t know that about the RT button. Thanks for the info 🙂

    • Bridget Willard on March 19, 2013 at 6:30 am

      Cool!

      Thanks for taking the time to click, read, and comment. I appreciate it.

  3. Carrie Chwierut on March 19, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Excellent, excellent! You brought up some things I’ve never thought of..thanks.

    • Bridget Willard on March 19, 2013 at 9:45 am

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Carrie.
      I’m glad that it was thought-provoking.
      I’d love to hear what your results are.

  4. Connie Brentford on July 31, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    You make some really good points here and retweeting when you should be commenting is one of them. Not sure I’m 100% with you on having other avatars show up in my feed though. I regularly retweet and favorite good feedback, comments and reviews about my books on Twitter. My audience is mainly writers and we love to see that stuff and where it’s coming from.

    • Bridget Willard on August 1, 2013 at 5:49 am

      Why not Retweet feedback with a “thank you?”

      Personally, when I go to follow a new person and they are all retweets (Twitter) then I wonder why I should follow. I realize it’s six of one, half dozen of the other. That said, if my first reaction was to not follow, how many others react that way?

      Either way, you’ve decided.

      • Connie Brentford on August 1, 2013 at 7:01 am

        I think we’re talking about two different things and of course, I thank each of them, personally. My retweet is an extra step in the gratitude process. You are saying you don’t follow people when their feed is “all retweets” and I am saying I retweet good feedback about my business and books which, as I’m sure you know, helps with social proof some people need to try your services. It’s called a testimonial. This happens on average a few times per week which I’m sure doesn’t put me in you serial retweeter category. I very much doubt people are reacting that way when they look at my feed.

        • Bridget Willard on August 1, 2013 at 8:31 am

          Thanks, Connie for taking the time to read and comment.

          I’m not setting a mandate, just offering my advice. For some reason, people are always asking me questions so I blog the answers for the sake of efficiency.

          You don’t have to agree with me.
          Continue on. I’ve checked out your Twitter account and you’re doing a great job.

          Love,
          Bridget

    • Bridget Willard on August 1, 2013 at 8:12 am

      Also, you rarely retweet whereas there are people who mostly retweet.

    • Bridget Willard on August 1, 2013 at 8:14 am

      Also, you may want to consider embedding “good feedback” on your blog/website. That’s a great way to extend the life of that tweet and honor the person who gave it.

      • Connie Brentford on August 1, 2013 at 10:06 am

        Adding site feedback is a great idea and I’ll pass that tip along to my authors. Now, we can embed FB feedback as well so it’s all good. From a marketing standpoint, I’m trying to teach other writers that tweeting, “Buy my book!” 1-12 times per day is wrong, so retweeting occasional, good feedback on your writing is better. It’s a long road and should I be successful, Twitter spam might be decreased by 1/3. 🙂

  5. Allen C. Buchananen on August 1, 2013 at 7:25 am

    BW, thanks for this post. I am watching, listening, and learning from a true Twitter Guru “ess”!

  6. ryan on December 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    lol what a load of nonsense and pointless crap

  7. @Silverfish1600 on January 7, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    The retweet button is the lazy way to tweet — people with limited recognition may see it as a way to attract followers by retweeting those who are more well-known. Still, you make good points here and the retweet button has its definite drawbacks.

  8. ruby on January 14, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I sure don’t want someone else’s avatar in my feed Bridget! That should be an a-ha for many Tweeps.

    • Bridget Willard on January 14, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks, Ruby. That’s a primary reason to old school RT.

  9. Evelyn on January 28, 2014 at 9:54 am

    I always learn somethting new when I read your posts! I think I was doing it wrong in the begining by the re tweets, I really like the conversations I get to have when I coment on a post 🙂 Old school it is! 😀

    • Bridget Willard on January 28, 2014 at 10:11 am

      Thanks, Evelyn. Not everyone agrees with me but I hope it helps you make deeper connections.

  10. modsuperstar on January 28, 2014 at 10:15 am

    The old retweet is a mess and I’m glad Twitter dispensed of it. The removal of unnecessary syntax like “RT @username” that cut into the intended 140 characters just made sense.

    It has nothing to do with branding. If I want to tweet something I prefer someone not take it upon themselves to bastardize my message like it’s 2008. The current retweet system is about giving credit where credit is due. Using the old retweet is like taking someone else’s product and slapping your own name on it and claiming it as your own. That just isn’t cool.

    • Bridget Willard on January 28, 2014 at 10:20 am

      I obviously don’t agree with you, modsuperstar, but I’d like to thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I do appreciate that.

      You’re definitely entitled to your opinion and to use your twitter account the way you deem most appropriate.

      People often ask me why I do what I do and this post is simply my thoughts.

  11. miranda on April 23, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    wow do you really take twitter this serious it’s a website my opinion is tweet/ retweet whatever you want it’s your account

  12. aidanstoneauthor on August 20, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Wow, how unbelievably arrogant. Me, me, me, and then you defend it here? No advice; too stunned!

    • Bridget Willard on August 20, 2014 at 8:28 am

      I don’t think that it’s me centered. But thanks for taking the time to read and disagree, Aidan.

  13. Cairenn Rhys on February 18, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Most people view the copy/paste method as rude and self-serving, so they unfollow and block the person. I do. Change my content to serve yourself, make it look like I’m promoting you, or that you created the content, and I will cut you off from doing it my followers as well. I may even warn my followers about the ‘hijacker’. They hijack tweets of others because they can’t come up with anything original. Plain and simple.

    A quick look at their profile reveals they not only have a lot less followers than the people they are copying, but their entire timeline is not their own content. They waste so much time copying & pasting, they fail to recognize how counter-productive it is.

    Use the RT button. Or don’t. But copy and paste my words – that’s plagiarism. It’s unprofessional and makes me question your integrity.

    It’s interesting how the only people promoting this copy/paste method on Twitter are the ones in PR, social media promotion and similar. They all have about 4k less followers than me. And they can’t figure out why. Maybe because their intention is misguided?

    If you just want high numbers and don’t want to qualify your followers, that’s your choice. It’s a number game you will ultimately lose if you piss off other professionals by copying their content and claiming it under your own name.

    Good luck.

    • Bridget Willard on February 18, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Thanks for the comment. The RT method was pre-retweet button and those of us who have been on Twitter understand that the text after RT is a quote, not plagiarism.

      • Cairenn Rhys on February 18, 2015 at 11:51 am

        With all due respect, that method has been abused and comes dangerously close too often to crossing the line. I spent years as a Copyright Paralegal. I know it when I see it.

        • Bridget Willard on February 18, 2015 at 11:52 am

          Thanks. I’m going to continue on. Most people appreciate my help. Retweet away. Don’t let me stop you.

  14. Carol Stephen (@Carol_Stephen) on February 18, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Wow. So nice when complete strangers accuse you of plagiarism, isn’t it? As though you never give credit to the person creating the original tweet. That is the point of a retweet–to give credit, and to help spread the message of the originator–not to take credit for someone else’s work.

    Thank you for always retweeting my posts (the old school way) and for your generosity, positivity, and good social media manners every single day.

    YOU ROCK!

    • Bridget Willard on February 18, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      You’re the best, Carol.

      I think newer users don’t know how Twitter was.

  15. fabamy on February 18, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    When you do a copy/paste RT, you are still TYPING IN THE NAME of the original account that tweeted it, and it looks EXACTLY like their tweet.

    How is that plagiarism??? Their name is still there, right? Right.

  16. Carol Stephen on June 8, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Love this post, and how you updated it! Still more reasons to use the old-school retweet. Newer isn’t always better!

    Carol

    • Bridget Willard on June 8, 2015 at 7:30 pm

      I never considered the analytics angle until WordCamp this weekend.

      Thanks for helping me experiment.

  17. Barbara Radisavljevic on June 11, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    I’ve never been quite sure how the comment option worked. Usually it’s hard enough to modify a long tweet enough to meet the character limit without adding more characters in a comment. Comments do add characters, right?

    • Bridget Willard on June 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      They do but sometimes there is room.

    • Bridget Willard on June 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      But Twitter’s “Comment Retweet” has maybe 140 more characters.

  18. […] and it’s better than complete self promotion but it’s still broadcasting. (Read: Why I Don’t Use Twitter’s Retweet Button by Bridget […]

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  22. […] Twitter changed retweeting — three times — since I signed up in 2007. This is why I prefer the old “RT” way. (Did you know your retweets can be turned off?) […]

  23. […] everyone on Twitter engages. By now you all know I feel about the Retweet Button which passes along a tweet but stops a conversation. So that is just part of it. The less people […]

  24. […] existed before the Retweet Button. I have a whole blog post that goes into great depth on why you shouldn’t use the Retweet Button. It’s even a featured snippet on Google. (Yep. I’m pretty proud of […]

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