One of the best ways to improve your reach these days is by way of a retweet but with so much social media noise and so little meaningful signal, how do you make that happen?
New retweets (edit – May 2011)
Since writing this article, Twitter changed the way retweets work but everything written below still applies. Bear in mind that not everyone uses the new style of retweet because sometimes people like to add their own comments to what they are retweeting.
Make It Interesting
Nobody is going to retweet a post about you doing the ironing because that’s just not interesting. Not that it’s a bad thing to tweet about the mundane things in life, it isn’t because the mundane things in life help your followers relate to you on a personal level but it’s just not going to wow anyone. However, if you can turn that tweet into something funny or interesting (with a creative mind anything is possible) people might feel like passing it on. If one person passes it on there’s a good chance others will.
People Like Funny
Funny is good. If you find something funny, people like you will probably find it funny too. If you’re not just a follow whore it’s likely that a good percentage of your followers are into the kind of things you’re into. People also like seeing other people make fools of themselves so if you do something really silly and tell other people about it, it’s a win! Tweet something that makes you look like a complete idiot, if it’s crazy enough it will fly.
Newness Is Goodness
Breaking news is always good. If you can give people compelling or interesting news before anyone else does, your value to them will be enormous. Again, if it interests you it will interest people like you so throw that stuff out there! This isn’t always easy because there’s a chance that those people like yourselves will get that news pretty quick anyway so you’ve really got to have a good nose for these things and the ability to think and react quickly.
Retweet A Retweet
Something that has already been retweeted is probably good to retweet. If it’s been retweeted already that means someone has already found it interesting. Also, if a tweet has “RT” in it twice, the eye of the reader is instantly drawn because it MUST be interesting. Those two letters “RT” are like a knife that cuts through the social media noise.
Make It Easy
If your tweet is 140 characters in length it will need to be edited down in order to be retweeted. This means that the retweet will either look a complete mess made up of horrid nuspk abbreviations or it just won’t be retweeted because the retweetist can’t be bothered to edit before sending. As a general rule of thumb I always make sure I leave 20 characters free on every tweet I think is worthy of a retweet.
Edit – This is still good practice because not everyone uses the new style retweets.
If something is genuinely for the greater good then don’t be afraid to put “(Please RT)” at the end of your tweet. Of course, if it’s just self promotion or you’re selling something it won’t work and may even annoy people… Especially if you do it all the time! When used wisely and carefully this is a useful tool.