Why you should use Twitter’s built-in retweet feature

Yesterday, Shoq offered two reasons you shouldn’t use Twitter’s built-in or “native” retweet feature. Me, I much prefer the new-style native retweet function, and I tell you why later. But, first, I think Shoq and others are wrong for preferring the old-style retweet.

First, Shoq argues that if everyone uses native retweets, we’ll all miss important things.

Repetitive tweets tell you a story mattered to a lot of your followers. You might ignore the first few retweets you see, but when the 3rd, 4th or 5th come in, you’re going to notice, and may well be glad that you did.

This is true if all people are sharing is the original tweet and not engaging in any sort of conversation or adding their own thoughts. If a story is important, people will be adding their thoughts and sharing other links to important parts of the story.

Now, this might seem to reinforce Shoq’s second reason against using native retweets:

Users can’t add their own comments to the built-in retweets

This is true. You can’t add a comment to the original tweet with the new-style retweet. But with only 140 characters it’s hard to do that with the old-style retweet without completely mangling the original tweet anyway. If I want to reshare a link and add my own comment, rather than butchering the original poster’s words I prefer write my own post and credit with a “via @username” at the end.

Native retweets give my followers control over seeing what they’re retweeting since I can turn off native retweets on an per-user bases. I can’t do that with old-style retweets. Native retweets keep 15 instances of the same post out of my timeline. Native retweets shares original tweets without the need to mangle “to,” “your” and “for” into “2,” “yr” and “4.”

Twitter’s native retweets are certainly imperfect, but I find the hard-core stances against native retweeting hard to understand.

7 thoughts on “Why you should use Twitter’s built-in retweet feature”

  1. Life’s too short for hard-core stances for or against anything having to do with Twitter or social media in general. Seriously… it’s just not that important. You make the same kind of statement: “I think Shoq and others are wrong for preferring the old-style retweet.” Wasted worries.

  2. Roger, I completely agree with you. Hard-core stances are silly.

    So even though I find it annoying when bunch of people I follow all retweet something using the non-native function, but I don’t unfollow them for that. Or even though I find it annoying when someone butchers a tweet I composed to fit “RT @bergus” on the front, but I don’t block them. Or even though I find it annoying when I like the tweets a person composes on their own but insists on using non-native retweeting for a steady stream of retweets that I can’t choose not to also see, but I don’t call them out on it.

  3. I always teach my students and clients that it’s better to add some value to a RT with a comment. Straight “native” RTs feel too much like spam IMHO, especially if they include a link. I always wonder if the person really bothered to click through and read. Using “via” is probably the best technical standard, but what if it’s something like this – @XXX posts “RT @YYY Twitter user’s slang based on geography http://bitly” – I like to give the person who RTed some credit for bringing it to my attention but I also want to include the original source. So, my solution is to Tweet “This is the kind of research I dig. RT @YYY Twitter user’s slang based on geography http://bitly via @XXX”. I think this is an interesting (albeit nitty gritty) subject to discuss. Are there any hard and fast rules for using Twitter? What are they? This is something our journalism students need to learn.

  4. ^ Funny.

    I also think that built-in retweets tend to get overlooked. At least I know I often overlook them. If I see a little commentary with an RT, as Staci mentions, I’m more apt to pay attention.

  5. There is also the problem that native retweets inexplicably don’t show up in Twitter lists.

    On the other hand, if I see a new avatar show up in my timeline, I’m more likely to pay attention to it.

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