Why Some People Hate Manual Retweets

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There are many different reasons people use Twitter. Depending on why and how you use Twitter, you may have come across an interesting phenomenon where some people are very particular about how you retweet them.

Twitter Retweet Etiquette

When it comes to Twitter, there really aren’t any hard and fast rules. That being said, there are certain things that are frowned upon by users of the system. Spamming, obviously, is both unwelcome and against Twitter’s terms of service. “Stealing” people’s tweets by reposting them without any sort of credit is also universally despised. After that, however, many of the so-called rules of Twitter diverge depending upon who is doing the tweeting and the reading. This variety between types of Twitter users can lead to confusion about whose rules to follow, and when.

why get mad about manual rtThere are many types of Twitter users. Some use Twitter only for promoting their work. Some use Twitter only to read about certain people, events or places. Some use Twitter to keep up only with actual friends and co-workers, and so on.

One particular type of Twitter user likes to engage in posting funny, quirky or personal things. They have no objective beyond Twitter itself. There are no links to follow, no blog posts to promote, no brand to build. They have no objective beyond Twitter itself. For these users, retweets and favorites are a way to keep score, to see just how funny or interesting each tweet is. Instead of a thank you for ensuring that their tweet found a bigger audience among your followers, they’ll be upset that your “manual retweet” stole some of their thunder.

What Is a Manual Retweet Anyway?

Not long ago, the only way to retweet was a manual retweet. Retweeting was actually invented by the users of Twitter, not by the company itself. It started as a way to share something you found interesting, funny, or useful with your followers, while still giving credit to the original poster. To retweet, you copied the original tweet and added RT plus the user’s name, like this:

RT @arcticllama There is a great new post at FinanceGourmet about free online credit scores.

In this way, you can share the information that the user ArcticLlama (that’s me) originally posted while letting everyone know that it wasn’t your original material. This also provided the additional benefit of letting the original poster know that you valued that tweet because the @username resulted in the original user getting that post back on their own timeline. If people retweeted you hundreds or thousands of times, you know you wrote something that people found worthy.

Eventually Twitter incorporated the retweet as part of the official system. In doing so, it changed how a retweet works.

With the original retweet anything that retweeted looked to the people who received the retweet like it came from the person who did the retweet, not the person who did the original tweet. That is, if I retweeted something as ArcticLlama, as you scanned your timeline, it was my little picture that showed up. In a way, this makes sense, you know me, not this other user, and I’m the one sharing what they wrote.

Additionally, if you also found it worth sharing and retweeted it again, then both the original sharer and the person who did the retweet ended up in the next version like this:

RT @financegourmet @arcticllama There is a great new post at FinanceGourmet about free online credit scores.

As you can see, the original link is still there, and if you are a follower of neither FinanceGourmet or ArcticLlama, you have two users you might want to look at, and there is more exposure for the original user’s link, so that should all be fine right?

But when Twitter incorporated retweets directly, they changed up the system. Now instead of RT @username leading the message, the tweet just appears. In addition, the original user’s name and picture accompanies the tweet. On the one hand, this is better and offers more credit to the original poster. On the other hand, you have to pay more attention now to know just how you got this tweet, or more specifically who it came from. If you have no idea who the original tweeter is, but a lot of respect for the retweeter, this is actually worse. Of course, the biggest benefit is that you don’t need to use some of the 140 characters up with the RT and username.

You can, of course, still retweet in the original way if you like. However, in some user’s minds, this also splits the credit for the tweet. Imagine, instead of a link to a webpage that I would like people to read, this was a joke I made. There is no link. There is no exposure. On one hand, there is still no issue. The original poster still gets full credit for being the original joke teller. But, for some users, the retweet count is what matters. It is the score that a tweet gets for originality, humor, or whatever.

When you manually retweet, instead of using the direct retweet button on Twitter, then the retweets would count like this:

When I retweet the message, the original poster’s tweet shows that there has been one retweet.

When someone retweets my retweet, then the original poster still only has one retweet, and my post has one retweet. But, if we all used the retweet button on the Twitter webpage, then the original poster’s tweet would have two retweets, and my retweet would have none. Obviously, if retweet count is what matters to you, then one method is clearly superior.

Who Cares About Manual Retweets?

If all you care about on Twitter is getting the maximum amount of interaction from your tweets and having your posts and links seen by as many people as possible, this is all very moot.

If on the other hand, Twitter is the end game for you, this matters because you want to have tweets with 2387 retweets more than you care about your tweet getting spread across Twitter as far as it can. That high retweet count is what “proves” that your tweets are great. Even more, services like Klout and Favstar count those retweets and then show them off or provide a ranking based on them. Those services don’t necessarily count the second and third retweets from the original toward those rankings. This feels like stealing credit then.

Ironically, how most users retweet has less to do with how they view the different methods than it does with how they use Twitter. I use HootSuite and the autoschedule function to keep all of my tweets and retweets from bunching up in clumps. This functionality generates “manual retweets.” Users who just use the Twitter webpage, do not have any sort of manual retweet option, unless they actually cut and paste.

Should you be upset about manual retweets?

Not if your goal is the maximum possible audience for your ideas. In that case, any tweet, retweet, or whatever is fine. If on the other hand, your goal is to get the biggest number of retweets credited to your account, then you’d probably prefer that people use the direct retweet option.

Either way, Twitter is a medium of the masses. People will do what they do, and how they do it. Be glad when people find your stuff interesting enough to do anything other than keep scrolling.

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One thought on “Why Some People Hate Manual Retweets”

  1. Julie says:

    “Should you be upset about manual retweets? Not if your goal is the maximum possible audience for your ideas.” I think the better question and answer is “Should you manually retweet? Not unless your goal is to look like a shameless self-promoter.”

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