One of the first things that really confused the heck out of me when I first started on Twitter was the stream of RTs I saw on my homepage. I couldn’t figure out what on earth RT stood for. As a fan of Richard Thompson, the only thing that came to mind was that everyone on Twitter is a massive Richard Thompson fan, but then the tweets didn’t seem to be about him, so eventually I abandoned that idea. Only after some careful research did I find out that RT stood for retweet.
Once I knew what RT stood for, I tried to figure out how people used this whole retweet function. Like a lot of people, I noticed that under every tweet there was a “retweet” button. If you clicked “retweet,” you’d share that post with all of your followers while giving credit to the person who said it. Pretty interesting concept. However, what I know now, and what we’re going to talk about today, is that retweeting can be much more than simply clicking a button. It can be an engagement tool.
It really is the thought that counts
So much of our online world depends on quick clicks and automation that it is easy to lose track of what actually makes us human. Yes, hitting the retweet button accomplishes a lot for just one click, but when you see a retweet where someone takes the time to comment, like if they are retweting a link to your blog post, doesn’t that make you feel a bit warmer? A bit squishier?
Let’s say that you just wrote a post about Finding Nemo. Which of these retweet scenarios would you like better?
RT @You Finding Nemo: A movie about fish and why I had halibut afterward [Link]
A hilarious take on Finding Nemo and the influence of movies on our lifestyles, by @You. [Link]
In option one, someone clearly just hit the retweet button. But in option two, a lot is going on, right? The person is showing that they read your post (or at least the first paragraph), they’re offering you an opinion on the post (and we like opinions that are positive most especially), and they are promoting the post in their own words to their followers.
Do you appreciate all of those benefits and all of that effort? Very probably you do.
That’s not to say that you don’t appreciate any kind of retweet, but that person who takes that extra time, that extra effort – they differentiate themselves a bit, don’t they?
A retweet by any other name
The true power of retweets to engage comes from the basic anatomy of what a retweet is. In essence, a retweet is basically:
You see something you like -> You tell your followers about it -> Which means you’re promoting someone else
When you think about retweets in this way, you can see that each part can be weighed pretty carefully and yield you good results. For example, if you tell your followers about something really helpful or really neat that you found, you are building your relationship with them, right? And then of course you are also building a relationship with the person you are promoting.
How to add more engagement gravy
To really capitalize on the retweet to help you engage with other people, here are some other techniques you can try.
-> Instead of just sending your retweet to everybody, pick a couple of people to direct the retweet to. For example, if you see a great post about making gazpacho and you know two foodies in your community who love Italian food, cc them on your retweet.
Great step-by-step instructions! RT @baker How to make gazpacho [link] cc @foodie1 & @foodie2
Why CC people? Not only are you telling those 2 people that you remember and care what their interests are, but you’re also introducing them to the person you’re retweeting. You’re introducing the person you’re retweeting to two people with whom they can network as well.
-> Promote blog posts using your own words. Again, this allows you to show the person you’re retweeting that you read and can interpret their post, and it also allows you to talk to your community about what you think they would like.
-> Make your retweets more personal. This sort of ties the first two techniques together. For example:
Hey @foodie1, did you see this post about gazpacho? I think you’d love it! [link] via @baker
Don’t overlook the easy peasy
Retweets are sometimes under-appreciated precisely because they are so easy to do. However, if you go beyond the click of a button, you can find ways to really build your engagement with lots of people at one time just by using the retweet as a tool.
Does this make sense to you?
Let’s talk about how you use retweets. Have you tried these techniques before? Do you have other ideas on how to use retweets to engage?
This is post #6 in The Engagement Series. If this is your first visit here, click on the Engagement Series category and see what we’ve talked about so far!
Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/clix