The Art and Value of Retweeting
Posted by Allison Fine on March 11, 2009
Do you tweet or do you retweet. I know that may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but which you do more of is actually quite important to the value of your experience on Twitter.
Let me explain further.
Most Twitter posts that I’ve seen are focused on Twitter-related sites and tools to help navigate the Twitter-sphere and how best to collect or prune followers. What I haven’t seen as much posted about is the value of Twitter to my work.
I like to friend people on Facebook and Twitter who are doing and writing and thinking about interesting ideas related to my focus of social media for social change. I don’t mind when people tell me what they had for breakfast — as long as that’s not all they write about.
But once I downloaded TweetDeck, Facebook fell by the wayside for me, because I now had a mechanism for “seeing” my Twitter-sphere at one glance and a very fast way to gauge what my network is talking about in an instant. It’s makes retweeting what others post very simple and easy. As I’ve spent more time on Twitter and clicking on links in other tweets, it has become clear to me that the real value of Twitter for me and my work is the art of the retweet. Here’s why:
Twitter is my eyes and ears on a network of really smart people who are scanning the horizons for things that I find interesting. Retweeting is an instant crowdsourcing of good, interesting ideas and posts on the web. It confirms that these posts are worth taking a look at and it saves me enormous time just surfing around. It also does something very important for me and this blog. When folks retweet something I’ve written here, then I know I’ve hit on something interesting. It is instant, credible feedback from my network on what I’m writing.
There was a post I saw a few weeks back explaining the 90/10 rule of Twitter. Jack Humphrey, the 90/10 blogger, defined his rule this way:
90% of what you share on Twitter should be made up of personal insights and thoughts along with a heavy dose of helpful links, while 10% should be made up of messages that more directly benefit you.
It sounds counterintuitive, unless you buy into the value of retweeting. When smart, connected people are posting links and retweeting more than their preening, the Twitter-sphere becomes a robust conversation that verifies information, and adds knowledge to the field by crowdsourcing specific posts and ideas. Of course, the retweets that you’re seeing are only as good as your network which makes carefully selecting who you are following all the more important. Beth wrote a terrific post on developing a following strategy.
So, try the 90/10 rule, it works!
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