Tactics for Getting Retweeted

Written by Scott NesbittApril 7, 2011

Some things are definitely worth repeating. Especially on Twitter, where those somethings are interesting links, quotes, ideas, or memes. Repeating those somethings is where a retweet comes in.

A retweet (RT for short) happens when someone else on Twitter (whether they’re following you or not) shares something you’ve tweeted. 

Retweets are a big part of the currency of reputation on Twitter. Being retweeted shows that you have something to share. On top of that, retweets not only have the potential to expand your reach, but expand your influence too. If what you post is retweeted enough, your follower count can grow. Sometimes it’s only one or two people. Sometimes, it’s like that old shampoo commercial where everyone tells two friends. 

A retweet looks like this:

While not everything you post to Twitter will be worthy of a retweet, there are tactics that you can use to make your posts worthy of a retweet. Let’s look at a few of them.

Make your tweets useful

People are following you on Twitter for a reason. And it’s not (just) because of your cute avatar or your humorous profile. They’re following you because you consistently provide tweets that inform, amuse, or intrigue.

To increase your chances of being retweeted, make your tweets as useful as you can. Point your followers to articles and blog posts that will help them learn more about something or make better choices. Promote that interesting event. Tweet inspirational quotes or special deals. The information that you tweet doesn’t just have to come from you. Don’t be afraid to point people to other sources of information on the Web. Even to your competitors.

Include links

More than half of the posts on Twitter that are retweeted contain links. Of course, those links have to take people to something that they want to read or see. Tweeting funny videos of cats or babies, or the news of the weird, will only take you so far.

Always keep in mind why people are following you on Twitter. Make sure those links cater to their needs and chances are that you’ll get more than a few retweets. People like to share, especially when they find something useful.

Keep it short(er)

As you probably know, a tweet can only be 140 characters long. That forces you to be very economical with your words. And if you’re hoping to be retweeted, you need to stay well below that limit. Why?

Remember that when a post is retweeted, the retweet contains RT and your Twitter user name -- for example, RT @ScottWNesbitt. That’s 16 characters already, and the person retweeting your post might also want to add a hashtag (more on hashtags in a moment).

You might have to practice a bit to write short tweets. If your tweet contains a link, use a URL shortener to squeeze those links down to a more manageable size.

Use hashtags

On Twitter, people use hashtags (#) to group tweets on a topic together -- for example, #socialmedia. Including a hashtag in a tweet makes it easier for people to find a tweet when they do a search. And with a hashtag, a good tweet can bubble to the top of a group of posts. That can increase your chances of being retweeted.

Of course, choosing the right hashtag can be tough. You need to make sure that it’s specific to what you’re tweeting about. So if you’re tweeting about a conference or an event, chances are it has a hashtag. Use it. The same goes for tweets on a specific topic, like #writing.

While there’s no compendium of hashtags, chances are that you’re familiar with at least a few of the ones in your niche just by reading tweets. And if you’re looking for a primer on hashtags, you can do a lot worse than this article.

Don't forget to retweet

Retweeting isn’t a one-way street -- to be retweeted, you should also retweet. Doing that shows you’re paying attention not only to the conversation that you’ve started but also to other conversations. Your retweets will not only show up in your Twitter stream, but also in the stream of the person you’re retweeting. Chances are at least of few of that person’s or brand’s followers will check out your stream. Some of them might even stay.

That opens you up to something interesting: what you retweet getting retweeting. It won’t always happen happen, but if it does you have a quick and effortless way of expanding your reach on Twitter.

Summing up

Being retweeted can expand your influence on Twitter and bulk up your follower count. Retweets are also a form of passive marketing, and can position you as an expert on a subject. If not an expert, then a trusted source of information. And in today’s socially-connected world you never know where that kind of reputation will lead.

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