Not so long ago Twitter launched their retweet functionality. They did so after users had started passing interesting tweets on to their own followers, most of them using the RT format. OK, so not everybody was completely thrilled with the Twitter implementation, mainly because it doesn’t allow you to add your own comment to a tweet. It does however allow Twitter to filter out multiple retweets by the ones that follow you. And also, Twitter can track the number of retweets, thereby revealing what tweets are popular.
What happens if you use the RT format: you get all the messages as Twitter cannot filter out the doubles. For instance, I follow a lot of people that work for Layar.com: Raimo, Maarten , Claire and Dirk (G). They are know people in the Dutch internet scene, and are avid Twitter users. So whenever they won a new prize or have a new job opening, they retweet each other. Unfortunately a lot by using the RT format, and so I get those messages with exactly the same content, 4 times.
Now, lately I have become aware of a new trend among power users, in particular journalists/bloggers that have a personal account and also maintain business twitter accounts. Take for instance Mike Butcher, one of the guys behind Techcrunch Europe. Using powertools like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite it is possible to publish one update using multiple accounts, and thereby 2 tweets from 2 different are accounts are sent out. So when you follow both Mike and TCEurope, again you get 2 tweets with exactly the same content. Aha, not adding any value no. So how bad is this? Well that depends on the overlap of followers. Mike has personally around 15,000 followers, TCEurope 10,000. Overlap? I estimate 7-8.000 followers. So all of these get the same tweet twice.
So how should we retweet, what should the retweetiquette be? My proposal:
- use the official retweet functionality as offered on twitter.com
- only, and only if you have interesting content to add, use the RT format
- do not use multiple accounts to send the same message. Instead, use one account to send the original and use the other to retweet the official way
This way users do not get tweets too many times, and Twitter can calculate all kinds of interesting stats. What do you think?