Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 30, 2010 8:01 AM

The Gentle Art Of The Retweet

As Twitter evolves and grows, the etiquette and "rules" change, morph and evolve along with it.

Recently, a very influential person on Twitter sent me a direct message saying that they were insulted because I had thanked a few people for retweeting one of my tweets, but I forgot to thank this individual. They were even more insulted because the people I had thanked were actually retweeting this individual's tweet (and not mine).

I suck at Twitter.

I sort of knew that before (more on that here: The Trouble With Twitter - Confessions Of A Twitter Snob), but as the platform grows, I'm getting even suckier at it. I find it hard to follow everyone back. I don't like following companies or brands that I am not in love with. I rarely thank anyone for retweeting my content. It takes me forever to respond to direct messages. People often ask me questions, but by the time I respond they've usually forgotten what their question was in the first place. I tend to be on Twitter when most people are busy enjoying their lives, etc...

Maybe we're all still getting used to how real-time chat in 140 characters really works... and it's not so obvious/easy?

The hardest part about all of this is that I am actually trying. I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter, and I'm constantly trying to post relevant content and context about Marketing, but I can never seem to really get my head above the wave and - more often than not - I feel like I'm barely treading water. Beyond apologizing profusely to this individual with a sincere mea culpa, I also wondered...

What do most people think of thanking those who retweet their content?

So, I hopped over to Twitter and asked. It turns out I'm not alone in my thanking suckage. That being said, the responses ran the gamut from "I thank people publicly for every retweet" to "there really is no point in just thanking someone for a retweet." The general sentiment expressed back, was that most people don't thank others for retweets because they feel that it clutters up the twitterstream. Beyond that, a lot of people agreed that while they do not thank people for retweets, they make sure to respond to every question asked of them.

So, what do most people think about thanking those who retweet their content? Here's what I learned:

  • People do thank for retweets, but claim they do so because they don't have that many followers, and it's fairly easy.
  • People try, but think they fail at it (like I do).
  • People try, but say that they only do it hours after it first appeared and they often get a message back saying, "thanks for what?"
  • People don't do it publicly but send that person a direct message (sometimes).
  • People don't publicly thank for any retweets.

There were also these tweets of wisdom:

  • "I always think 'Thank you' but I don't always type the words." - via @MegMathur.
  • "Not if it just a RT, I treat it as a little gift. If RT with a interesting comment then I reply w/comment. But not a thanks." - via @avinash.
  • "A better way to thank someone for RTing you is to RT something interesting of theirs. Sometimes I DM them instead." - via @aussiegoldy.
  • "I try to acknowledge near 100% of nice direct comments, but retweets only upon occasion. (Though I obviously appreciate!)" - via @tom_peters.

Now, it's your turn: what do you make of all of this?

By Mitch Joel