I’m a social media addict. It’s the first thing I look at in the morning, and the last thing I read at night. My favorite social media platform is Twitter. I’ve sent 147,000 tweets since March 2, 2009. I’m what some people call a Twitter power user, although I don’t like that association very much. To me, it’s much simpler than that. My friends live in my computer, and I connect with them on Twitter. Today I’d like to talk about the 5 types of Twitter retweets.
Last month, my friend and founder of this blog, @ChristopherIsak, wrote an article entitled 6 Twitter Bad Practices That Grind My Gears. I agreed with some of his points and disagreed with others. In that article, he brought up a few things about Twitter retweets that I felt needed further exploration. This article goes into more detail about Twitter retweets and how/why people choose their retweet style.
Self-expression and individuality are important to me. I believe it’s our differences that make the Internet such a fun place to hang out. One of the beauties of Twitter is that it allows everyone to show their personalities in their own ways.
In the spirit of that transparency, I’d like to explain each one of the 5 types of Twitter retweets in a way that will allow you to choose which ones are best for you.
1. Twitter’s Native Retweet Button
Description: You can retweet any tweet by using Twitter’s native retweet button, which is located at the bottom of every tweet (next to the favorite star). It’s the fastest way to retweet. Some people would argue that this is the only “correct” way to retweet.
I like to engage with my followers about content that is interesting enough for me to retweet. Content I retweet using the retweet button does not promote engagement since my followers don’t associate it with me (they see the original tweep’s avatar in their stream). However, I respect the opinion of those who wish everyone would retweet this way.
Pros: By retweeting this way, you give “full credit” to the original person who tweeted that content. All the retweets and favorites will count towards the original tweet. Since that person’s avatar and original tweet will be displayed to your followers, it’s like an introduction of that person or brand to your followers.
@ChristopherIsak compares the retweet button to a form of sponsorship or advertising. Retweeting this way ensures that you don’t accidentally steal someone’s control over their own timeline.
Social metrics are tricky. According to this 2011 Quora post by Klout employee Megan Berry, Klout takes into account both retweets made with the retweet button and old-style retweets. However, there are some people who insist that the retweet button affects Klout scores more.
Cons: Like I stated above, using the retweet button means that your followers might not immediately recognize that the tweet came from you when they scan the tweets in their feed. Also, any of your followers who also follow the account that you’re retweeting won’t see your retweet.
Keep in mind that since people can turn off your retweets (if they only want to see your original content). That means they’ll never see the content you retweet using the retweet button.
Another reason some people don’t like the retweet button is because it doesn’t allow you to add a comment to your tweet. Those tweets also have a date stamp, so if you retweet something from a few days ago, it will look like old content even if it’s still relevant.
Although I use the retweet button several times a week, I think it puts a layer of distance between my followers and I since I’m only the middle-man so to speak. If leadership is important to you, beware of over-using the retweet button.
*Obi Wan Kenobi voice*
Use the retweet button, Luke. The power is within you.
— 〰 Just Linda 〰 (@LindaInDisguise) January 22, 2015
2. Manual RTs
Description: Manually retweeting is also known as “old-style retweeting.” A manual RT is when someone chooses not to use the native retweet button, and instead, they manually type “RT” and the original tweep’s username before copying the original tweet into what is now their original tweet. Some people will argue that this technically isn’t a retweet at all.
What people sometimes forget is that when Twitter started, there was no such thing as a retweet. The users came up with the idea of retweeting. Back then, adding “RT” to the beginning of a tweet was the only way to do it. Twitter didn’t support the idea of retweeting until 2 years later. You can read about the birth of retweeting at 5 Twitter Features You’d Never Guess Weren’t Invented by Twitter.
Pros: Unlike the retweet button, this type of retweeting allows you to add a comment in your tweet. Also, with this type of retweet, you can be sure all of your followers will see the tweet. As I’ve already described, that doesn’t happen with the retweet button.
Cons: Since people can’t “turn off” your manual retweets like they can your retweets sent using the retweet button, you run the risk of getting unfollowed or muted if you continuously manually retweet content that is irrelevant to your followers.
Also, manual retweets strip the original tweep of all the retweets and favorites their original tweet might have received. For this reason, if I’m retweeting a joke, a home video or any other very personal content, I always use the retweet button since I feel like it protects and respects the original tweeps’s personal property.
Manual retweets ruining my timeline
— JC3_NG (@JC3_NG) February 4, 2015
I thought that was a joke….people are SERIOUSLY complaining about manual RTs? Like…forreal?
— Tweetgood Mac (@SnottieDrippen) July 26, 2014
3. The “via” Retweet
Description: The “via” retweet occurs when someone adds via and a username to the end of a tweet. They are giving credit to the person who originally brought their attention to that content. Again, some people may argue that this isn’t technically a retweet at all.
There are many social media influencers/leaders who curate a lot of content on Twitter. They’ve spent a lot of time building their personal brands. If those people were to use the retweet button every time they tweet content they found on Twitter, it would change the entire complexion of their timelines. Instead of looking like a leader, they’d look like a follower.
Those tweeps have successfully learned how to balance this and maintain control of their timelines by using the “via.” You can look at @AnnTran_, @2morrowknight, @MarshaCollier and my own Twitter page at @adamsconsulting to see the “via” in action.
Pros: I like to formulate my own tweets in my own style. I might use a link I found on someone’s timeline, but I’ll add different wording, or I’ll add a photo. In that case, it’s not a true retweet, and the via seems more appropriate. I’m a big fan of the “via.” Using “via” also allows you to credit more than one username for the content (I often see the same content on more than once in my feed – so “via” allows me to credit 2 or 3 people).
Cons: A lot of tweeps get annoyed with the manual RTs and “via” retweets. Plus, the person who uses the “via” gets credit for the retweets and favorites, which is offensive to some people.
I also found that Tweets using the word “via” as a method of ReTweeting had a higher CTR. http://t.co/kVZ8cLob
— גילה גדעון (@GilaGideon) November 17, 2011
4. MT Retweets
Description: MT stands for “modified tweet.” I’m not a detail-oriented tweeter, so I’ve never used MT before. People use MT to signify that they are retweeting, but since they’ve changed the tweet a bit, it’s modified. For example, they may have corrected a spelling error in the original tweet or added a different hashtag. If I modified a tweet before sending it, I’d just use a “via” but everyone has their own Twitter style.
Pros: Your followers will learn that you are meticulous about your tweeting, and you’ll build trust and loyalty quickly.
Cons: Some people will just think you made a typo, and that you meant to type RT.
— Toni Birdsong (@tonibirdsong) August 8, 2014
5. The “Quotes Retweet,” The HT (and other retweet variations)
Description: Some people started using the “quotes retweet” after the Twitter iOS app offered it as a retweet option several years ago. It made it confusing to know which was the “correct” way to retweet (if there is such a thing). To this day, I still see the “quotes retweet” in my Twitter feed.
There are also other funky retweet variations you might spot every so often. The HT is gaining in popularity, or maybe I’m just noticing it more. Again, I’m not saying there is a right or wrong. Everyone has their own Twitter style.
Pros: Although I’m not a fan of these types of retweets, at least all your followers will see the tweet (unlike with the native retweet button).
Cons: Using quotes to retweet looks kinda weird. And, using HT and other symbols that tweeps are unfamiliar with could confuse people, which will dilute the purpose of your tweet.
— Michelle O'Brodovich (@Michelle_OBro) December 8, 2014
I’m happy when people like my content enough to retweet it. It doesn’t matter to me which style of retweet they choose. IMHO, there are more important things in the world to get upset about than how someone chooses to retweet a tweet. As long as they get my username in the tweet somewhere, it’s all good. What do you think? I’d love to know your opinion about Twitter retweets. Thank you for stopping by and for reading my article!
Diana is a USC graduate, tech entrepreneur and member of the Apple Consultants Network. She has written 4,200+ blog posts around the blogosphere. She loves innovation, creativity and grande Java Chips. She’s also a frequent user of the force. Connect with her on Twitter at @adamsconsulting or email me at [email protected].