Monday, October 27, 2014

To Retweet or Not To Retweet?

I honestly never believed it would happen to me.  "No way!" I argued. "Why in the world would I do that?"  I thought it was pointless, silly, and a waste of my time.

But I finally did it.  I finally joined twitter.

Before I knew it, I was a tweeting monstrosity, retweeting and plugging random blog posts with no clue of what I was doing. Truth be told, I still don't know what I'm doing most of the time.  But I've figured out a couple of things that have worked for me.  Maybe they'll work for you, too.

When to Retweet

Retweeting is (almost) everything on twitter.  The best way to be noticed is to retweet.  You gain the attention of the person you're tweeting (which can result in a follow).  More importantly, you're essentially pre-reciprocating.  People who retweet often, with quality tweets, get retweeted themselves later.  And if someone in my measly following of less than 500 (as of the publication of this post) retweets something of mine to their 10,000 + followers, then my words (and my name) gain a bigger audience.  I can't offer them much in return just yet, but perhaps they'll make connections with some of my followers, and meeting the right person at the right time can change your life.

So what should you retweet?  Almost everything I retweet comes not directly from my followers but from searches of particular hashtags.  Some of them are general, others more specific. #OctWritingChallenge is an awesome place to get community support with your writing goals.  (Check out for details in other months.)  Then there are several blogging hashtags that are particularly active on certain days of the week:  #MondayBlogs.  #WWWBlogs ("Women Writers Wednesday").  #ArchiveDay.  I love these three in particular because they are almost linked to interesting content.  I post links to my blog on those specific days (with the hashtag), and I spend my free time reading and retweeting others' works in return.

But here's the key:  Retweeting everything you see will get you blocked.  No one wants to see your name in their feed every five seconds.  Knowing what to retweet is crucial.

What I look for in a good tweet:

  1. The tweet (or blog post) is interesting and eye-catching.  A tweet has 140 characters to really get the reader interested in what the writer has to say.  Make it good!  Don't spam your followers with drivel.
  2. The post to which the tweet links (if it does) is interesting and well-written.  If the blog post is littered with errors in grammar, or if the writing is dull and uninteresting, I won't retweet it. Under no circumstances do I tweet something I wouldn't personally promote.  Take the time and read the post!  I've seen authors who I sincerely believe set their profiles on auto-retweet (even if there is no such thing).  It's like they retweet everything with specific keywords or hashtags. It's annoying, and I at least usually respond to such activities with a mute or an unfollow.
  3. The tweet can be edited down if necessary for comments. I like to give my wholehearted approval or add an idea to a particularly good post, but sometimes you can't do that and still get the essence of the tweet across.  I tend to avoid doing straight retweets (even if it drives the original authors crazy).

So tell me, what are your requirements for a good tweet? What could I or other aspiring writers do to make our tweets more relevant, interesting, and worthy of a retweet?  Leave your ideas in the comments below!  


  1. My retweet process is pretty simple. I only retweet things I really enjoy and things I think others will find useful or funny. Also, I don't worry about the number of followers. Having, for example, 100 followers who have a genuine interest in you and what you have to say is better than having 1000 who don't. My 2 cents. :)

    1. Your opinion is ALWAYS worth more than two cents! :-)

      In principle I completely agree with you. Quality > quantity. Making connections with good people is the real value in social media. That being said, having enough of those quality followers to pass on things you write (or are selling--though I'm not at that point yet) is invaluable in making more quality connections. For me it's all about the people. Let's chat and get to know each other! You're way more likely to help out a friend in need than a stranger.

    2. Aw, thanks, Amalie, and yes, I wholeheartedly agree! Quality over quantity is the best way to go. :)