Steve Woods

How to Retweet, Old-School

In Social Media on November 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Was NOT looking forward to this invitation...

I received the beta invitation (or warning) for the new Retweet feature at Twitter yesterday.  Igotta say, it’s one “improvement” that I had not been looking forward to, and I’ll likely work diligently around it for awhile.  I’ve been using the “Old School” retweet method of forwarding those nuggets of information I like to my followers, and it works just fine for me.

Negative sentiment on RT abounds

I know I’m not alone in my sentiment. There are a number of people on Twitter who’ve voiced their disappointment with this untweaking of a valuable communication tool that already works when done properly.  A few of them are pretty heavy hitters in the Social Media world, who have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers and have happily helped Twitter in its growth by providing interesting commentary and multimedia.  They ought to be listened to…

This morning, I came across a comment on Twitter from someone I follow, stating that she was often confused by retweets, trying to figure out who had made the original comment, and what was added by the retweeter.  I realized that if many of us are banding together to push Twitter to unhinge and remove the new feature (or improve it quickly,) we need to ensure others know how to properly retweet, Old School style.

“Old School” Retweet Methods

There are a number of methods people use to retweet information on Twitter, and not all of them are easy to parse.  So I thought I would share a few techniques I have witnesses, and demonstrate what I believe is best.

The Special Character Separator – This form of RT simply resends the message, but places a /, ~,::: or other special character or set at the end followed by the commentary by the retweeter.  Works well for most if you have it obvious, but sometimes the chosen separator doesn’t hit everyone over the head equally.

Use of special character to separate the information

Use of arrows to "point" your comment at the original tweet

The @Sender Put at the End – This form of RT places the @sender name at the end of the commentary, often in parentheses, and sometimes with the word “via”.  Commentary is normally placed after the parentheses.  This format is often constructed by mobile phone apps like Tweetie. The parenthetical separation is typically good enough for people to get who said what.  The person below, however, seems to have sandwiched the RT by commentary before and after…

Putting the (via @sender in parentheses) technique

The Pre-Comment This is my favorite, and I’ll explain why.  In this type of retweet, it kind of feels at first NOT like a retweet, because it doesn’t start out with RT at all. The commentary by the retweeter comes first, drawing more readers in, because it doesn’t feel addressed to anyone in particular.  Then the RT follows the comment, and we can sort of reverse-engineer the conversation.  Here’s an example…

Comment back is placed in front of the RT'd message

You get the commentary first, which seems interesting in itself, and then see that it is a retweet to @Alyssa_Milano  The RT letter set is enough of a visual cue to see the separation between the comments.  Alyssa will see all of the retweets she gets on her messages because like any good user, she is checking her @Mentions often.

The Pre-Comment method is elegant, interesting and if followed by everyone consistently, would be a model for Twitter to use when reworking that new feature I am so diligently ignoring…

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