5 Reasons Not to Use Twitter's Retweet Button

5 Reasons Why Not to Retweet Using Twitter’s Native Button

5 Reasons Not to Touch Twitter's Retweet Button

“A retweet is a retweet, no matter its form, and it promotes someone else. So I shouldn’t bother too much and waste my time.”

This is one possible perspective. And it’s not always a bad one, especially when you retweet quotes or other content without links.

However, you should be aware that the professional marketers aren’t interested in the number of times you retweet their content or in your impressive (or not) number of followers.

These figures are relevant only to newbies or average marketers. A pro looks at how many clicks you’ve generated to their content.

If your retweets aren’t effective, you might get a thank you for your retweet. Or a fav. But that’s all. You won’t be able to create long lasting relationships with the tweeps that matter and can really help your own social media marketing.

Now let’s see how effective (actually ineffective) Twitter’s native retweet is…

1. Twitter’s Retweets Emphasize Irrelevant Pieces of Information

What’s the common behavior of the followers who read your tweets? They open a home feed or a list feed and they scan it. No one reads all the tweets unless they follow a few people and aren’t very busy. Most of the followers scan the feeds.

When someone scans a long piece of text (a salesletter for example, or a social network news feed), attention grabbing things are very important. A nice and big image, the picture of someone they know and like, some bolded text, etc.

Well… If you retweet using Twitter’s button…

Example of retweet in the original Twitter form

… the retweet doesn’t include your profile picture (someone your followers may know), but the picture of the original tweep (someone your followers may NOT know). The name of the original tweep is bolded – emphasized, while your name is the least visible piece of text.

Unless the original tweep is a very known name or brand, most of your followers get in front of their eyes irrelevant pieces of information. For example, I have no clue who that “Abundance Marketing” is, and that profile picture is like a blank piece of paper to me.

So… when I scan a tweet like the one shown above, I see nothing. The bolded text and the picture didn’t grab my attention. What will I do? I’ll keep scanning the next tweets. Nothing got my attention.

2. Twitter’s Native Retweets Cannot Be Modified

If there’s a typo, you cannot edit it. If there’s no hashtag, you cannot add one. If there are too many hashtags, you cannot remove some of them. If you want to add a comment or a recommendation, you cannot do it.

Not being able to edit the original tweet is a big minus.

Update – April 7, 2015: Twitter has just updated its Retweet button and now the users can add their comments to the retweets. While several disadvantages mentioned above disappeared, the new Retweet with Comment reduces drastically the potential viral power of a tweet. So it’s even worse than the regular native retweet.

3. No Separate Tracking for the Links from the Native Retweets

If you retweet using Twitter’s button, you can’t track the result of your retweet (the no. of clicks). That’s not a tragedy, is it? However, what is even worse is that the original poster cannot track your results either.

In its Analytics section, Twitter says, “Connect with influencers. Find out which accounts are already impacting traffic to your website and start a conversation with them.”

That’s a good piece of advice. But the truth is that no matter how many impressions and clicks your native retweet generated, Twitter will not mention you in the original poster’s Influencers section from Twitter Analytics for Twitter Cards.

Why is that? Because when you retweet using Twitter’s button you don’t generate another tweet with another t.co trackable link. Your results are added to and considered the original poster’s results.

What is even more frustrating is retweeting a manual retweet. In that case, your results are assigned to the person who manually retweeted.

Example: John manually shares a tweet that includes a link to Mary’s site, and drives 5 clicks to Mary’s page. Then you retweet John’s tweet and drive 30 clicks to Mary’s page. When Mary will check her Influencers section, she won’t see you there, but only John, John’s tweet and “his” 35 clicks.

You don’t like it, do you?

4. Your Followers Can Turn off Your Native Retweets

How to turn off the retweets

I don’t know whether you knew it or not, but the fact is that your followers can turn off your retweets. Twitter’s native retweets, not the manual retweets.

You’re not notified. You don’t know how many followers already turned off your retweets.

“Turn off Retweets” is an effective weapon against chronic retweeters and makes their retweets pretty useless.

Even if you’re not such a chronic retweeter (trying to rock social media in 30 minutes a day without automation tools), don’t think that you’re safe. Some people don’t like their feed cluttered by content actually posted by tweeps they never followed. And they may use “Turn off Retweets”.

5. Twitter Hides Some Native Retweets (Unofficial Piece of Info)

I didn’t find this piece of information anywhere on Twitter’s website, but somehow it makes sense:

If you follow John and Peter and they both retweet the same tweet posted by Mary, then Mary’s tweet won’t be displayed twice in your home feed. Therefore the potential reach of Mary’s tweet is diminished by this algorithm.

I’ve seen this piece of information on more blogs: here (article dated January 2011), here (article dated June 2011, section 11.2) and here (article dated July 2014, section “The secret about RTs”)

Since this isn’t official, take it with a grain of salt ;-)

Conclusion

Whether you like it or not, there’s only one possible conclusion …

The native retweet is the quickest way to share someone else’s content, but it’s the least effective type of retweet.

So if you really want to build valuable connections on Twitter in order to improve your own marketing results, don’t use that retweet button so frequently. The manual retweets are way more effective.

To Your Twitter Marketing Success!
Adrian Jock

P.S. Your turn. What’s your usual way to retweet? Why do you use it? Did you ever consider the cons shown above?

P.P.S. Follow me on Twitter for more interesting internet marketing tips & news.

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22 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Not to Retweet Using Twitter’s Native Button

  1. Hi Dennis,

    Thank you for your comment.

    That Chrome extension cannot help you in case of native retweets. It reveals what tweet included a certain t.co link. Besides the fact that you can find out the same thing by using Twitter’s search feature (if you add http:// in front of the t.co link), in case of the native retweets, the t.co link isn’t changed every time when a tweet is retweeted ;-) Therefore you don’t know whether the traffic was generated by the first tweet or by another subsequent native retweet. That doesn’t happen in case of manual retweets. Each manual retweet has a different t.co link and the tracking works fine.

  2. Hi Adrian,

    you share some great information here.

    Usually I don’t use the retweet button to retweet content, but I have to confess that I didn’t do it because of the above mentioned reasons. It’s more because I can schedule the tweets to a different time, rather than sending it immediately.

    Anyway, I knew about the first four reasons you mentioned, but #5 is new to me. But as you said, it makes sense.

    Have a great day,
    Torsten
    Torsten Müller recently posted…Solo Ad Escape – Route To Alternative Traffic SourcesMy Profile

  3. HI Adrian,
    When on mobile I use the quote button vs the retweet so I can add my own stuff to the tweet and personalize it. I wish that were available on the desktop version of Twitter!
    Otherwise you have to take more time to copy and paste but it’s worth it in the long run if you have the time.
    I also use the buffer a lot so I can edit right in there…..I didn’t realize people could turn them off in the feed- thanks for sharing Adrian!
    Lisa recently posted…6 Ways to Become A Pinterest Marketing WhizMy Profile

  4. Thank you for your comment, Lisa.

    This Summer Twitter tested the feature “retweet with comment”. Maybe they will improve the interface, I don’t know. It depends on the feedback they received.

    I know some journalists that don’t like the manual retweets and they even consider them pretty close to plagiarism LOL

  5. Hi Adrian,

    Interesting point you made here and it’s all brand new to me.

    I didn’t know any of that about retweets, but I’m so very happy now, because I’m not much of a retweeter anyway, because I really don’t have that kind of time to start with, but also, because I like to tweet my own stuff first.

    I didn’t know that you could actually turn retweets off either. So it seems that some people are wasting their time.

    Thanks for this great info.
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted…How To Captivate Your AudienceMy Profile

  6. Hi Sylviane,

    Thank you for your comment. Turning off retweets is a feature that was available since Twitter’s early days. However, not everyone knows about it. The problem is that we don’t know how many of our followers already used it. Anyway, it’s safer not to use the native retweet button :)

  7. Adrian! Long time no see, friend!

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of your headlines in my feedly news feed, I don’t know how I’ve missed them but it’s good to be back here!

    I really appreciate all these tips. I didn’t know any of that! Twitter is a fun place to be but there’s still so much I don’t really get about it. Thanks for enlightening me!

    I hope you’re enjoying the fall.

    All the best,
    Brittany
    Brittany Bullen recently posted…Why Won’t the Cool Kids Pin My Stuff on Pinterest?My Profile

  8. Hi Brittany,

    You didn’t miss any of my headlines. It’s me the one who didn’t post anything on this blog for one month or so :) Blogging isn’t the main activity of my online business ;-)

  9. Excellent and detailed insights. Well, didn’t know that the Retweets can be turned off by the followers, that’s got with a surprise to me. The tracking links part was more interesting and you explained with an example and it was easy to understand and it is frustrating to know that manual retweets are assigned to those who manually retweeted, in this case the prior person who have done a manual retweet is not shown up in the influencers section which I think is unfair. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post Adrian :)
    Nizam Khan recently posted…Optin Gate Review – Create Professional and High Converting Landing PagesMy Profile

  10. Adrian, just discovered your site and I’m loving your tips! I’m hoping you can provide further clarification on the “Manual” versus “Retweet with Comment”. You write………..

    “…..If you retweet using Twitter’s button, you can’t track the result of your retweet (the no. of clicks). That’s not a tragedy, is it? However, what is even worse is that the original poster cannot track your results either…..What is even more frustrating is retweeting a manual retweet. In that case, your results are assigned to the person who manually retweeted.”

    I’m not sure I get the point. If I retweet one of your tweets using Twitter’s button and my retweet results in 10 people clicking the link in your original tweet then you WILL see these 10 clicks on your analytics. But you will not know that my retweet resulted in these additional clicks. And if 5 of my followers see my retweet of your original tweet and they retweet it using Twitter’s button then you WILL see who these 5 people are. But you will not know my retweet resulted in these additional retweets.

    Right?

    Now compare this to the results we’d get if I MANUALLY retweeted your tweet (and I keep your short url in the retweet).

    If my manual retweet results in 10 people clicking the link in your original tweet then you WILL still see these 10 clicks on your analytics (because I kept your short url). But you will not know that my manual retweet resulted in these additional clicks. So no difference there. And if 5 of my followers see my manual retweet of your original tweet and they retweet it using Twitter’s button then you will NOT see who these 5 people are. And you will not know my manual retweet resulted in these additional retweets.

    So, I am not understanding the benefits of the manual retweet versus using twitter’s native retweet button. Regardless of using twitter’s native retweet button or manually retweeting, you still see how many people clicked on the link. And regardless of using twitter’s native retweet button or manually retweeting, you (the person who posted the original tweet) are not able to know which person that retweeted your tweet was responsible for generating the most clicks and retweets.

    So what’s the benefits of the manual retweet? Especially considering the backlash you may get from the original tweeter who will accuse you of self-promotion (see http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/15/manual-retweets-self-promotion-twitter-embeds-journalism).

    Anyway, I really hope you reply because i’m so confused! :-) Thanks!

    1. Hi Mark,

      Thank you for your comment :)

      If my manual retweet results in 10 people clicking the link in your original tweet then you WILL still see these 10 clicks on your analytics (because I kept your short url). But you will not know (Adrian’s note: yes, I will!) that my manual retweet resulted in these additional clicks. So no difference there.

      That’s not true. That’s why you haven’t understood the difference between the manual retweet and the native one.

      When you manually retweet, I will know that your manual RT generated the 10 clicks. Here’s how and why:

      Twitter assigns a trackable t.co link to any link from any new tweet. Here’s the difference generated by this behavior:

      a) When you retweet using the native retweet button, you don’t generate a new tweet, and you don’t generate a new t.co trackable link (check it!). That’s why both the original tweet and the retweet using the native button include the same t.co link. As a consequence the original tweeterer can see only the clicks but will not be able to detect who exactly generated the clicks.

      b) When you retweet manually, you generate a new tweet and consequently a new t.co trackable link. Even if the link from the original tweet and the link from the manual tweet are the same link, each one has a different trackable t.co link (check it!). As a consequence, the clicks coming from the original tweet will show as referrer the t.co link assigned to the link from the original tweet, while the clicks coming from the manual retweet will show as referrer a different t.co link – the one assigned to the link from the manual retweet (example). Now the marketer can see exactly what tweet generated the clicks.

      In order to identify whose tweet included a certain t.co link, you can use Twitter’s search feature (using the same example above – your manual retweet, search for http://t.co/A1AIL4A17K). Or you can check Twitter Analytics for Twitter Cards (Influencers tab).

      And if 5 of my followers see my manual retweet of your original tweet and they retweet it using Twitter’s button then you will NOT see who these 5 people are. And you will not know my manual retweet resulted in these additional retweets.

      A proper manual retweet should include RT/MT/via/by and my Twitter handle. My tweets always leave the necessary space. So … you can do it. If you do that, then I can see who the 5 people are and I will know that your manual retweet resulted in these additional retweets. The info will be found in my Notifications tab (same place as for the native retweets).

      Especially considering the backlash you may get from the original tweeter who will accuse you of self-promotion

      If you’re not a marketer, you shouldn’t read my article. This is a marketing blog. However, if you’re a marketer, you shouldn’t rely on tips from non-marketing blogs. They aren’t marketing tips.

      For your sake, I have scanned that article though. I have seen a modified tweet (MT) for a text tweet. The author was right and my article isn’t about that type of tweets. Let me quote myself, “it’s not always a bad one, especially when you retweet quotes or other content without links.”

      I have also seen there a technique where someone generated traffic to his site getting advantage of someone else’s work. My article isn’t about such a technique, but about generating traffic to the original post while making sure that the original poster is able to find it out, so you can build a stronger relationship and benefit of it.

      If there is anything not clear yet, let me know :)
      Adrian Jock recently posted…Twitter Myth: URL Shorteners Save Space – Busted!My Profile

  11. Thanks, Adrian
    This is definitely good information to know. Just out of curiosity though, if you don’t use the native retweet button what is the alternative? How do you retweet without using it?
    Thanks,
    Jim

    1. Hi Jim,

      The format I use and recommend is: text (headline, whatever) + link + RT/by/via @TwitterHandle + 1 or 2 hashtags

      On my timeline you may see also this format: RT @TwitterHandle + text + link. That’s content shared from JustRetweet and it doesn’t follow my own recommendation mentioned above. Why? Because it’s the format used by that platform and I cannot edit the tweets.

      Should you have more questions, let me know.

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