Tips on Retweeting from a Seasoned Twitterer

Enough is enough already.

I’ve been using Twitter since March 2007. Since then, I’ve tweeted more than 79,000 times, been verified, and accumulated a modest 3000+ followers. I’ve written extensively about Twitter and have even authored video courses for Lynda.com on the topic. So it’s safe to say that I know a little about Twitter.

I don’t follow many accounts. As of today, it’s only 288. I pick accounts to follow based on my interests and what those accounts tweet. Sometimes I’ll add an account and a few weeks later, realize it was a mistake and unfollow it. It’s nothing personal. I just need to focus on the things that matter to me.

Recently, I unfollowed three accounts that were simply retweeting far too many tweets. I realized that their retweets violated a handful of “rules” I’d come up with to manage my own Twitter activity and retweets. This morning, I set them down in a short Twitter thread.

For the record, I pretty much detest Twitter threads — that’s when a twitter user replies to his/her own tweets creating a connected string of them — especially if they’re longer than three or four tweets. So you can imagine how much I hated making one that was seven tweets long. In my opinion, if you can’t say something in 1000 characters, you need a blog. I have a blog so I’m going to lay the contents of my thread down here where it can be easily read and found by others.

Here’s the thread, expanded.

1/7 The Intro

I was trying to be kind with this tweet. I had recently unfollowed someone who would consistently retweet multiple subtweets in a thread, none of which made sense on their own. And the previous week, I’d unfollowed someone who retweeted every single tweet in a lengthy thread, thus repeating the entire thread in my timeline in reverse order. And there were countless other people who seemed to retweet just about everything they saw, no matter where it came from. Enough was enough. I had to speak up.

2/7 Don’t Echo Threads

The other day, someone I followed retweeted the first tweet of a thread I thought might be interesting. I clicked the tweet and read the thread — all 20+ tweets in it. When I was done, I returned to my timeline and continued scrolling up. I saw the second tweet in that thread — which I’d already read. And then the third, and fourth, and fifth. And I’ll be damned if every single tweet in the thread wasn’t retweeted right there in my timeline.

After I’d already read the thread.

Why would someone do that? Don’t they understand the way retweeting works? The way threads work? Maybe not. Hence, this piece of advice: Don’t retweet every single tweet in a thread. Just retweet the first one or the one or two that resonate with you.

Sheesh.

3/7 Don’t Retweet without Context

The other day, I unfollowed someone who retweeted about a dozen subtweets with absolutely no indication of what they were all about.

Imagine this: You read a tweet, then click it to read some of its responses. As often happens, the responses branch off into various threads, some going off into weird and fun tangents. One of these subtweets strikes you as funny or interesting, given the context in which you’re reading it. But the tweet itself doesn’t include any hint of the context.

It’s like the punchline of a joke without hearing the joke.

Yes, it’s hilarious. And yes, you want to share it. But think a moment. If someone didn’t read the tweets leading up to it, would they get the joke? If the answer is no, don’t retweet it.

After all, do you walk around reciting joke punchlines without the joke leading up to it?

4/4 Don’t Hijack Tweets

This is a pet peeve of mine, mostly because of my feelings regarding content creation.

Twitter offers two ways to retweet:

  • Retweet without a comment.
  • Retweet with a comment.

When you retweet with a comment, Twitter lets you enter the full text of a tweet and append the tweet you are repeating to it. The tweet normally appears right below it.

Twitter offers this feature so you can add your own thoughts about the tweet to it while retweeting it in a way that preserves it. But what this also does is basically turn that tweet into a new tweet — your tweet — so when people reply, like, or retweet, they are retweeting your tweet. The interaction does not appear on the original tweet.

Hijacked Tweet
How many times have you seen something like this? A one-word comment or finger arrow pointing at a tweet? A “comment” that adds absolutely nothing to the tweet but effectively hijacks it so the retweeter gets all the likes, retweets, and possible new followers? (For the record, I deleted this example right after I made it.)

And, of course, abusers use this to, in effect, hijack popular tweets.

A very good friend of mine did this very often and it upset me to the point where I unfollowed her.

If you’re going to retweet with a comment, make a real comment. Something that adds to the discussion or points out a fallacy or points followers to more information at another source or tags someone you think should see it.

Keep in mind that all tweets that you retweet with a comment are retweeted to everyone who follows you, including people who already follow the original tweeter. So you’re repeating the tweet. What good is that if your comment doesn’t add to the discussion? It’s just more noise.

5/7 Don’t Retweet Unreliable Sources

This is a tough one. As my friend and fellow author Sandee pointed out, how do you know who is reliable and unreliable these days?

I wish there was an easy answer. I know who I believe — well-known and respected media organizations with good journalism staffs and responsible reporting that are neither far right nor far left. So yeah: I’ll believe (and retweet) the New York Times but not Fox News or Mother Jones. Ditto goes for verified Twitter accounts for employees of these organizations.

And yes, people reading this might not agree that the New York Times is a reliable source. Fine. Just don’t expect me to follow you. I certainly don’t expect you to follow me.

Use your brain, folks. Don’t believe everything put in front of you. Always consider the source. Don’t share something just because you wish it was true. Isn’t there enough misinformation out there?

That’s not to say that I won’t retweet something that’s funny, especially satire that’s obviously fake. We all need a laugh now and then. But if it’s something that people [with a brain] might think is true and it obviously isn’t, I won’t retweet it.

6/7 Don’t Ask for Retweets

There’s nothing that reminds me more of everything I hate about Facebook than including “Retweet if you think…” or “Please retweet” in your tweet. I don’t need you to tell me what to retweet. If something is worth retweeting — in my opinion — I will retweet it. If not, I won’t.

You telling me to retweet something makes it far less likely that I’ll retweet it. Why? Because I don’t want to look like a moron who needs instructions on what to share.

And when you retweet something that includes a retweet request, what do you think I think of you?

7/7 Twitter is an Echo Chamber

I follow only 288 accounts because, unlike so many other Twitter users, I try to read the tweets of all of those accounts. I’m not likely to follow the accounts of people who tweet and retweet a lot of content I don’t find interesting. Don’t take it personally. After all, why should you? Who am I?

I’m just someone who has been using Twitter for a long time to meet a particular need. The advice here is the advice likely already heeded by the people I’ll continue to follow.

Who knows? It might help you get — and keep — followers, too.

On Being Verified

Interesting how a tiny blue check mark can make people take you more seriously.

I'm Verfied
That tiny blue checkmark means I’m really who I say I am. (The helicopter is an emoji and appears in red everywhere except my profile page when I’m logged in on my Mac. Go figure, huh?)

About a month ago, I requested that my Twitter account be “verified.” It was the second time I’d made the request — the first time was at least five years ago, not long after verification began — and although I’d been turned down the first time, I was verified the second. I got the coveted blue checkmark beside my name.

The skinny on verification

Verified Twitter accounts are those accounts that Twitter has verified as belonging to the person whose name appears on the account. This is so that people looking for the real account in question know they’ve found it.

To get verified status, you need to be somewhat “famous” or at least publicly known for something. I’m known for a few things: I wrote computer how-to books for more than 20 years, I’ve owned a helicopter charter business for more than 15 years, I’ve been blogging for more than 13 years, I’ve been recording video training courses for more than 10 years (including several about Twitter), and I currently write articles for a variety of aviation publications. When I filled in the forms online and submitted the documents to prove that I really was who I said I was and that I was worthy of verification, the folks at Twitter apparently agreed. Without any fanfare, the blue checkmark appeared on my Profile page.

I actually noticed a side effect to verification before I noticed the checkmark: literally overnight, I gained about 100 followers. That was weird.

The benefits of the blue checkmark

Being verified gives you some additional benefits the average Twitter user just doesn’t have.

Twitter Stats
As amazing as it seems to me, during this particular 24-hour period, my tweets were displayed 123,514 times.

First of all, you get a bit more respect. Is it possible that I’m seeing fewer trolls? It sure seems that way. (Of course, I do block all the trolls I encounter, so I don’t see repeat offenders.)

Next, it gets your tweets more attention. People are more likely to read a tweet when the account it came from is verified. I’m seeing that in my stats. My tweets are getting seen, retweeted, and liked more than ever.

My most popular tweet
This tweet, which I shot out in response to Donald Trump’s whining about protesters (see below for embedded tweet), has become immensely popular.

Of course, I like to think that this particular tweet has become so popular because it’s so witty. Honestly who knows? (And who cares?)

Twitter also gives verified users additional tools for monitoring notifications. An additional tab appears on my notifications page so I can view a list of All, Mentions, and Verified. The Verified option shows me only notifications from other verified accounts. I can imagine this being extremely useful for truly famous people who want to weed out the mere mortals. Personally, I don’t use it much, although a surprising number of other verified users do interact with my tweets. I have to wonder if that’s because I’m verified, too.

Behavioral changes

Has being verified changed the way I use Twitter? Possibly.

First of all, I don’t think I tweet any more or less than I have during the more than nine years I’ve been using Twitter. I currently average 10 to 20 tweets a day, with a total of about 61,600 total tweets since March 2007.

That said, I’m definitely more cognizant that the things I tweet may be seen by far more people. Although I’m usually very careful about what I post online — I’m not an idiot, like a certain small-handed, thin orange skinned president-elect who can’t seem to keep his tweet hole shut, thus exposing his fragile narcissistic ego to the world — I do think twice about how what I tweet might affect my brand.

Yes, I did say “brand.” That’s because being a verified Twitter user helps establish your name (or account name) as a brand. I already had a brand that was relatively strong in the early 2000s. Who knows? It might become strong again. I don’t want to tweet anything that can hurt it.

What do you think?

Does the verified badge on a Twitter account affect the way you follow or interact with that account?

Are you a verified Twitter user? Have you noticed a difference in the way Twitter works for you?

I’m curious. Use the comment link form to share your thoughts about this.

And please — let’s not go off on tangents about the election. Haven’t you had enough of that in the news? I sure have.

About My Instagram Profile

It doesn’t exist.

Instagram LogoScammers/Spammers will say and do anything. Here’s proof.

I got this email today via someone (or somebot) on my website’s contact form:

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I don’t have an Instagram profile — or at least I don’t think I do. If I did, it would be in my name and not my website’s URL. And I know for a fact that I haven’t posted any photos on Instagram, at least not in the past few years. And why the hell would I want to buy followers or likes?

Just another ploy to get me to click a link for a service (or a scam) I have no interest in.