November 8, 2010

Three Benefits of Retweeting

Plant a retweet and watch it grow.

Frequent Twitter users know what a retweet (RT) is and how to use it. It's simple. See a tweet you like and want to pass on to your followers, just highlight it and hit the Retweet button. Even easier on a smart phone: just hit the retweet icon (left) and confirm. If you prefer the old-school style, copy that person's message and paste it into your "What's happening?" box, and then precede it by manually typing the RT and @thatperson'susername.

Surely, there are long lists of benefits to retweeting out there in the web and blogosphere. These are three of my favorites as to why my little bird passes on what other little birds say.

1. Selflessness

Sharing the thoughts of those you follow with the realm of your own followers is a form of altruism, isn't it? That person tweeted something meaningful to you, and by you retweeting their message you are now showing your common interests with that person. That is the way Twitter works. Unless you are following somebody simply because they followed you first, then you often follow people with whom you have common interests.

Once you build a good number of folks to follow, you can expand that group further by paying attention to their retweets. The networking possibilities from this are seemingly endless. Following those retweets to their original tweeter opens a connection you may have had a tough time finding through the site's Search box.

It's always exciting to find the Twitter account of such authors as a Margaret Atwood or a Chuck Palahniuk. My small band of followers could then become an Oryx and Crake or Rant fan just by checking out their respective homepages after I pass along something from them I find retweetworthy. Twitter-based book clubs, anybody?

2. Selfishness

Tweeters are aware of how many people follow them. For those of us who just surpassed the century mark in terms of followers, we know the exact number. ;)~  Of course, you want your follower count to represent a steady supply of possible readers of your 140-word influence. The SPAMmy ones come and go, but it's those within your fields of interest that you really want. In essence, you want to attract followers that you, yourself, are following or would follow.

Retweeting is an exchange of information that can lead you to attracting more followers. In a way, it is a shameless act of self-promotion that says, "I found this interesting, so could should you." With a click of the mouse, you have shared an insightful comment or video/article link without having to post anything original. In a perfect world, I would recommend viewing/reading the linked sources prior to getting retweet happy over its title. Sometimes you will find disappointment in that newly opened tab or window, which you may regret retweeting to your followers.

Another selfish reason for retweeting is that the original tweeter may take note that you were kind enough to pass along their wisdom. This may be somebody of great influence to you--somebody of a networking influence. If they end up following you back, that could certainly make your Monday! And if others retweeted the same message as you, check out their profiles. They, too, may be people in which you'd be interested in following.

3. Archiving

This is my new favorite reason for retweeting. Being an aspiring writer, I love reading articles on blogging and writing. Twitter makes that so much easier. I've started a list of writing related tweeters, and follow their stream of knowledge, quotes, and links which serve to make up my own frequently updated self-help page. When I find inspiring information, I retweet it. This is not just to share with my followers, but to keep for myself for future reference. Fortunately, there is a wealth of knowledge for young writers on the web that others thankfully tweet. Unfortunately, it can be information overload.

Retweeting articles I want to read later provides me a working archive on my profile page. There are only so many a guy can read when writing calls and grading papers can't wait. Personally, I rarely "favorite" tweets. When checking my Twitter between classes, I retweet the article I want to read later at home. It is then stored on my own profile page. This makes it much easier than trusting my memory to recall who tweeted that link about revising first drafts or that vlog about the future of vlogging. And it makes it much, much easier than having to scroll through the thousands of general timeline messages looking for one specific tweet.

Of course, you don't want to retweet everything somebody posts unless you want to be that person. However, those various tweets that tickle your inspiration bone, pass them along. Retweet. I might like to read them too. Then, maybe we will enter that superexclusive club together: Retweeted by you and __ others.

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