Retweeting is a popular way to share a useful or interesting tweet. The concept is beautifully simple, but fundamentally flawed. Using the “RT” prefix worked well when the Twitter-verse was small, but since the big bang it has simply failed to scale. Prolific RT-ing is polluting the Twitter-sphere, suffocating the original, high quality tweets that make Twitter so compelling in the first place. “RT” simply doesn’t add value to something that thrives on individuality, creativity and niche communities.
However, RT-ing is popular and well established in the Twitter community: so why change it? Well, there’s a much better way to tweet interesting content and be a better Twitter citizen at the same time!
Use “via @” instead of “RT @”
Here’s an example of a recent tweet that is interesting and intriguing. This is definitely worth passing on to my followers, so I could ReTweet it as shown on the right.
As you can see, the text from the first tweet is completely copied in the ReTweet. Wait a minute… copy and pasting! Would you copy and paste someone else’s blog post into your own? No, so why do it on Twitter?
It would be far more interesting and unique to Tweet the following instead:
I am still referencing the original link and the use of via @tferriss is clearly giving credit to the original Tweeter. But, most importantly, I get to convey this information in my own words. This is vital to keep Twitter Tools content unique, fresh and current, and prevents the now ubiquitous duplication thanks to RT-ing.
3 Tips for using “via @”
- Be creative – You can put the “via @” anywere in your new Tweet, so focus on writing something unique, that reads well and conveys your message.
- Add value – Whether it’s a link, quote or interesting nugget of information, add value to what’s been said before by contributing in your own words something relevant to the content. Give your opinion, be critical, be complimentary – this shows that you’ve actually looked at, or read the article or post rather than just blindly forwarding it on.
- Keep the original shortened URL – It’s polite to keep the original shortened URL in your new Tweet. Lots of URL shortening services show traffic statistics, so it’s only fair the originator of the link should be able to track their hits.
So, next time you read a fascinating Tweet, pause for a second before hitting the retweet button: can you add value to what’s already there? If it’s a link, write something original – there’s a reason why you want to share it, so explain yourself! Rather than wasting your precious 140 characters with someone else’s words, be creative and put your own spin on things, your followers will appreciate it and the Twitter-verse will be a better place!