Retweeting is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to spreading your messages and increasing your presence on Twitter. But when is it appropriate, and when is it just an annoyance?
For the uninitiated, retweeting is what happens when you post a message that someone else wrote through your own Twitter account. (This is different from replying, which is when you speak back to someone’s tweet without quoting it again — and thus create a thread, or a “conversation.”) With retweeting, it’s like forwarding one friend’s e-mail to another friend. Similarly, the original poster’s handle remains intact on the message, and the post has “RT” on it to tell your followers that you didn’t originally write it.
One reason that retweets are often used is to share with your followers a message about you that they might not otherwise have the chance to see. Sometimes this serves as a shout-out or thank-you to the original poster. It puts them into the attention of your followers as well, and can be interpreted as a sign of support – so be careful who you retweet, even if it’s a compliment about you. For example, if you’re all about selling pencils and a big pen company says you looked really pretty at the big handwriting summit last weekend, you might not want to promote their messages lest you be taken for a secret pen aficionado. However, if one of your best buyers tweets about loving the lead quality of your pencils, you’ll want to retweet that.
Another great time to retweet is when you’re helping to promote a colleague (who in turn would probably boost you back); this can also bolster your affiliation with them in the eyes of your followers. For example, you might want to share tweets from your favorite stationary company where your business sells a good share of its pencils.