How to Retweet Properly


2010 is becoming the year of Internet laziness. Many have given up blogging (yes, not updating your blog in the last few months counts as giving up too) and have joined the ranks of the Twitterverse.

One simple tip will get you noticed above most Twitter users: Spend an extra 30 seconds before automatically retweeting.

I know we’re all in a hurry. We all want to be the first to broadcast or re-broadcast the latest and greatest. That’s why we camp outside the Apple Store to be among the first to have an iPad. Tweetmeme has given us an easy out from leaving meaningful blog comments – one simple click and we’ve retweeted.

Since everyone can do this just as easily, you won’t stand out! What’s the solution? Meaningful retweets.


I recently ran a story about 10 Social Media Infographics that received over 1,100 retweets and was featured by Guy Kawasaki. It probably wouldn’t be a good use of my time to respond to every single person that retweeted. What’s interesting is that very few people took the time to make additional comments. Here are a couple that caught my eye:



You’ll notice that I did not list the other 1,110+ retweets here, so clearly you can stand out…even without being the message originator!

Also, keep in mind that you the original content owner has a responsibility of keeping the initial message user friendly.

Try a retweet preview of your initial Twitter name, title, and shortlink and be sure to keep it around 120 characters to allow for ample retweet space.  Our friend Tim Nash goes into further explanation on the topic.


  1. Julius

    I think this also applies to other social networks when you’re sharing information you found from other sources.

  2. Mike Wilton

    Brian I think you make some solid arguments, the problem is a lot of people prefer the retweet format. I remember having a discussion with a few people about this previously and they really didn’t like the (via @yournamehere) business. I try and mix it up a bit using both the typical retweet and the personal comment if I feel it is a stellar post. Sometimes I just want to share because it’s newsworthy, not because I think it’s a great piece. Perhaps that’s how I differ in how I share posts.

    It’s in my opinion that since Twitter has officially adopted the retweet that they should discount those characters from the total message so that your 140 characters begin after the RT: @username, but that’s just me. Good post though, unfortunately the 140 character limit is often a blessing and a curse.

  3. residuetiger

    Mike I totally agree with you on the character discount. There have been several times I’ve wanted to RT something and add my own little comment, then hit the 140 character mark. Maybe we should start a petition…

  4. Ken Herron


    Thank you for the shout out! Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised to see my tweet when I read your post this morning.

    Being a marketing guy (and being accused, upon occasion, of having an opinion or two), it is hard for me to understand why anyone would NOT want to post their retweets with their own two cents. If a tweet is valuable, newsworthy, or just plain weird enough to share with your audience, doesn’t it also merit sharing your own thoughts on it?

    I realize not everyone loves to write, but I have to respectfully disagree with Mike and Residuetiger (do you prefer “Residue” or “Tiger” for short?) on Twitter’s 140-character limit being a bad thing. Whether it’s a deadline, a budget, or a word/character limit, good writing benefits from constraint. Yes, I run over the 140-character limit on what I first type out, but what I end up with [when I have to “get to the point” in under 140 characters AND allow enough space to make it easy for others to retweet my retweet] is almost always better than what I first wrote.



    Ken Herron
    Chief Marketing Officer | Co-Founder
    SocialGrow Inc.
    +1 888 SOC GROW, x2 Voice/Fax

  5. Jenn

    Great insight! I’ll be sure to incorporate these Retweet tactics into my Twitter technique!

  6. Allison Rizk

    Brian, you make a great point here. I do believe there is Twitter laziness (myself included) where they may not even open the link, but just plain RT the article because it has a compelling title. It starts to wear on the content provided from an integrity standpoint – especially for those bloggers that put their heart and soul into writing not only a catchy title, but rich, enticing, and great content that should be shared properly.

    I’d like to make a stance to make sure I actually read through an article before I RT it. Maybe we all can stand to get a little bit smarter and less lazy.

    Thanks for the post!

  7. Susan Wilson

    Hi Brian,
    Thanks for your article about RT, I found it very usefull 🙂

  8. Brian Wallace

    @Julius: yes indeed. Just as our teachers always told us in school – cite your sources. That doesn’t mean to just rehash, but rather to build upon and share commentary on existing thought.

    @Mike Wilton: I’m not sure that more than 140 char will solve the problem. And my issue isn’t really about the (via @yourname) but rather that if people simply RT a post (often without even looking at the post itself!), there is a loss of credibility on their part.

    What if I just had a great headline like “How to Retweet Properly” and if you clicked through, it was just a Lolcat saying, “Fooled you!” 😉

    @residuetiger: if you and Mike don’t like 140 char, you might consider writing a blog post instead 🙂

    @Ken Herron: You’re welcome for the shout out. Thanks for getting me to take note. Most people (myself included) are sometimes too busy to want to add and are rather simply rebroadcasting good information. Nothing wrong with that but it gets too noisy without a qualifier. Thanks for stopping by and retweeting with meaning.

    @Jenn: go get ’em! 🙂

    @Allison Rizk: Exactly. I’ve made the case for important tiles alone before too on Collective-Thoughts – note this predates Tweetmeme and Retweets 🙂

  9. deakaz

    I think it’s important to understand how retweeting works, and how it can improve your twitter performance.

    The most important point to take away is the amount of space to leave in a tweet, for maximum retweetability. If you make a tweet to long it’s not able to be retweeted easily, unless someone finds it interesting enough to tweak it a little.

    Thanks for sharing! =)

  10. Brian Wallace

    @deakaz: not leaving enough room is inconsiderate and probably won’t get folks far. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Cassie Rice

    I totally agree with you! I get so tired of people posting links to so many different places – many times I feel overloaded with them. But if someone tells me why they recommend a specific link, I’m that much more likely to click it.

  12. Social Media

    Great advice – thanks a lot! I think it’s important the explain twitter to the people as most of them still don’t get it 🙂

  13. George

    Thanks, I never really thought about that! It’s such a small thing, but yeah, I can totally see how it makes a different impression.

  14. Angela Mahler

    Pardon me for asking (but I’ve looked for it in a few places), when you hit the retweet icon, there is no choice to enable you to edit and add your own comment.

    Does this mean I have to re-type (because you can’t cut and paste it) the original tweet before I add my own two cents?

    If so, that really doesn’t motivate me to add a comment.

  15. admin

    @Angela: seems to be working fine – try again?

  16. Angela Mahler

    My previous comment was in reference to retweeting on Twitter. How there is no option to edit a tweet to include your own comment with it.

    Is that a wee bit clearer?

  17. admin

    @Angela – aha! Thought you meant the retweet button on the blog. You might want to use some other twitter clients for more flexibility.

  18. Angela Mahler

    Sorry about that.

    Use some other twitter client than Twitter? That’s plain crazy talk! Surely Twitter has that one down? (Or not.)

    Thanks for your help.

  19. admin

    @angela – surely they don’t!