Retweeting protocol for small business owners

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What’s the proper protocol for re-tweeting when you own a small business?

I am frequently asked by my clients what is the correct way to re-tweet. Here are some helpful hints that I have compiled:

  • Following the User. You shouldn’t automatically assume that you are already following this particular user, so make sure by checking your account. If that user was interested enough to share your content, then you should reciprocate when appropriate. Look at their profile to see if they’re a person or organization you’d like to follow and if so, then add them.
  • List the User. If you have a relevant list, then add the user to it. Here’s an example: if the user mostly posts quality “email marketing” content and you happen to have a list for that then you should add them to it.
  • Reciprocate. Check out the user’s profile on Twitter and look at their timeline for quality content to re-tweet. (The “re-tweet” button makes this fast and simple. Later, if necessary, you have the ability to manually re-tweet with your personal shortened URL link.)
  • Retweet a Retweet. Yes, basically, you are re-tweeting yourself. Since you can no longer post the same tweet more than once, a RT of a RT is a means of recognizing the user and also putting content of high quality back into your stream.
  • Conversational Mention. Try replying to a RT with a response that encourages discussion. Pose a question or ask for people’s opinions. When you use “reply” you facilitate other users to follow the thread of the conversation easily.
  • Group Mention. When your content is re-tweeted, list the users that did it and add a thank you or a comment of some kind.
  • Conversational Direct Message (DM). If you don’t want to crowd your public stream with lots of @mentions, you can send a private message with a personal note for further discussion. (This can add lots of value to your re-tweets.)

Re-tweet “Thank You” Exceptions:

  • Don’t pay attention to “bot” re-tweets on Twitter since there’s no possibility of building a relationship with someone.
  • Stay away from re-tweets by “get rich quick” and MLM tweets. What they are really looking to do is acquire more followers. Beware when expressing gratitude. (Note: if you initiate a conversation with any of these users, you will probably find yourself with an inundation of their MLM friends also following your account which makes it hard to designate between them and your legitimate followers.)
  • If someone happens to re-tweet you several times in one day, thank them selectively. You don’t have to match anyone tweet-for-tweet when you thank you them.
  • It is quite possible that numerous users will re-tweet you if you post quality content. (Wahoo!) When that happens, it can be too time consuming to thank each and every user. When it’s a business account, I suggest ensuring as much as you can that you’re actually following those users on Twitter. (Note: For the “re-tweet”, Twitter only displays up to 14 of the most recent re-tweeters.)

Tactics to Avoid with Re-tweet “Thanks” :

  • NEVER post numerous thank you tweets one right after another. It makes the timeline on your profile have less value for possible new followers when viewing your profile. Because Twitter shows the three most recent tweets in the user profile preview pane, think of two as your maximum number for back-to-back RT thank you’s.
  • Hold off on posting RT thank you’s during peak content re-tweet hours. (Re-tweeting a RT is the exception.) Instead, try to re-tweet during off-peak Twitter times (likely 6 pm and later) so you don’t bore your followers.
  • Don’t post a generic “Thanks!” or “Thanks for the RT!” publicly. It offers no value to your followers. Try to include the original tweet or link if you can. You can also include a hashtag (i.e. “Thank you for the #CRO re-tweets!”) so that other users, including our followers, can easily identify other relevant users they may want to follow.
  • Do NOT send a DM that simply says “Thanks for the RT!” This has no value in regard to starting a conversation and it basically equates to spam. In the DM world, it will most likely seem automated, which kills the point of trying to build a new relationship. Make sure to personalize the message so it adds value or ignites conversation.
  • Don’t post public RT thank you’s that are directed to specific individuals on a periodic basis. You might actually offend all those other folks that you didn’t thank for re-tweeting your content. (It’s possible that a user might be missed on occasion, and probably not likely to be noticed in the chaos of the busy Twitter stream.) Stay consistent with your public thanks. Take advantage of direct messages for occasional individual thanks when needed. Try to consistently find time (daily, weekly, or monthly based on your re-tweet volume) to engage and “thank” your re-tweeters and followers.

TIP: Adopt social automation tools to schedule re-tweet thank you’s. (Social Oomph or Hootsuite are really good for this.) Scheduling ahead of time allows you to space out tweets and post during non-peak times as needed. It also aids in organizing and scheduling your time so you’re not consumed with Twitter management all day long.

Re-tweeting Properly:

  • First, log on to Twitter and view your account. If you see a message that you’d like to re-tweet, hover the mouse over the message and look for the retweet or RT icon.
  • Click on the icon and you will see a pop-up window. Click the Retweet button. The message will then automatically be visible as your own post but still recognizes the source of the tweet. Using a Twitter client is the ideal situation since others can also put comments and replies to the retweet.
  • According to social media enthusiasts, the general rule is to comment on all retweets. It is important to provide a comment to start the conversation since you will be reposting a message created by someone else, and therefore become second party to the conversation. Make use of the remaining space and be sure to comment.

The retweet is one of the most respectful practices that you can do on Twitter. It demonstrates that you like another user’s message or post. It also indicates that you interact well with other users. Retweeting means that you’re not stealing or claiming other people’s posts as your own. Retweeting should, however, be done in moderation.