What the Way You Retweet Says about You

If you spend as much time on Twitter as I do (and I’m not even one of the worst/best!) you have likely become fluent in the subtleties of the strange language that is the tweet. If you’re brand new, you’re probably confused as hell. Ah, well. All in good time, young grasshopper.

I thought I’d have a little bit of fun today by putting my spin on one of those old magazine quizzes about random crap like “what your hairdo says about you.” Some of it is legit. If you’re new, you can learn the proper ways to retweet different types of content. And some of it is just good-natured teasing. For that reason, I’m only using my own tweets and retweets as examples, just in case anyone has twisty panties. 😉 (My apologies in advance to anyone named Person McGee.)

I hope you enjoy this in the spirit it was intended. Without further ado, what the way you retweet says about you:

Pushing the retweet button on:

*Something that someone else says.

You thought it was funny or clever enough to share as-is.

Something funny that someone else says in response to you.

You wanted your followers to see that you prompted such cleverness.

A compliment that someone gives you.

It made you feel so good you just had to share (as opposed to favorite).

*Someone else’s share of your content.

A) You’re lazy.

or B) They said it better than you could.

A #FF (follow Friday) list that includes you.

You’re a braggart. A clutter-causing braggart.

A “thank you for the #FF” list that includes someone else.

You’re the devil.

RT @Person_McGee Original tweet.

A) You want your face in everyone’s timeline as much as possible. (Otherwise you’d just push the retweet button.)

or B) You’re super old-school. What’s this retweet button crap?

*My answer. RT @Person_McGee Original tweet?

A) You think it’s a question others might have, and your answer might help.

or B) Your answer is funny and/or clever.

*My comment. RT @Person_McGee Original tweet.

A) You want to explain why you’re retweeting.

or B) You want to add a compliment or highlight something about the content.

My comment. RT @Person_McGee @Me Original tweet sent directly to me.

A) You’re so famous that your followers want to see all of your @ conversations.

or B) You think you’re that famous.

RT @Person_McGee Original tweet. // My thoughts.

You’re old school.

RT @Person_McGee Original tweet Mixed in with my thoughts.

A) You’re disorganized and/or ADHD.

or B) You revel in shrouding yourself in conundrum, sending your followers into fits of confusion.

My comment. RT @Person_3 Snark. @Person_2 Someone’s tweet answer. RT @Person_1 Original tweet question.

You spend too much time on Twitter.


*Denotes the methods that I find most preferable.

There you have it! Did I miss any? How do you retweet?

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  • -j-

    I was trying to read this post as if I didn’t understand Twitter. I still would not understand Twitter! I am probably a bad retweeter. I retweet stuff I love, stuff that makes me laugh, super sweet tweets about my content (I think that violates some twitter humility rule, but so be it).

    One thing I rarely do is RT someone’s post tweet without comment. I always try to give context, get people excited to go read the post. Plus, if I say something nice, they can RT my RT (thus breaking the same humility rule I break).

    Why does talking about Twitter always sound like we’re tongue-tied?

    • Yeah, you’d have to have a least a basic understanding. When I first joined Twitter I was so overwhelmed. It really is like another language. A tongue-tied language.
      And I think it’s perfectly fine to retweet compliments sometimes. I know I’ve done it before. In fact, I think I’ve even retweeted a compliment you’ve given me. =) Humility is good, but so is gratitude. I think it only becomes obnoxious when someone retweets every single compliment they get (especially the lists, ugh); it turns into one giant stream of self-promotion. I have definitely had to unfollow someone like that before.

  • Julia Munroe Martin

    I vary my RTs from day to day, tweet to tweet and depending on whether I’m on my computer or my iphone. I have an ongoing internal dialogue about how to do this — and a lot has to do with how much effort I have to put into it on a given day… and whether I want to add a compliment or highlight something (like you did :). This is a great post (and I’m not just saying that because you used my tweet as an example — but THANK YOU SO MUCH, that was so much fun to stumble on!!!).

    • True. Energy definitely plays a factor in my types of RTs as well. And I’m glad you’re pleased with the tweet. =) Thank you for your own RT of this blog post too–say that 3 times fast!

  • LOVE!!!!! You knew I would.

    My fav comment: A “thank you for the #FF” list that includes someone else.
    You’re the devil.
    Yes! THE DEVIL. Why do people on insist on doing that. It’s madness I tell you. 
    Off to RT with my comment before of course. 

    • I hoped you would! And I knew you would agree with that one. =) You and I have been fighting the good fight for a while now, but somehow those scalawags always prevail. We should hire Twitter police!

    • okay I’m a bit lost. Do people thank people for #ff even when they aren’t mentioned on a #ff??!! if so, that crazy passive aggressive twitter twatness. LOL

      • Lol, people are CRAZY. Let’s say I #FF you and 3 other people in a tweet. Then let’s say you tweet back to all of us, “@me, @so&so, @buttmunch, @porcupine Thanks!” And then let’s say that I, being the weird obnoxious person that I would be in this hypothetical, would push the RT button on your thank you tweet. That’s what we’re talking about. =)~

        • Which, by the way, means that the hypothetical you also thanked and tweeted three people who didn’t actually do anything for you. Which would be equally hypothetically annoying. 😉

          • that is THE DEVIL and an ugly stream of RT’s. twitter twatness.

  • Ha ha ha! I could testify that the simple retweet button is usually, among any other reasons, because I’m lazy, lol! 😉

    LOL @ the #FF retweets, and the subsequent ten thank yous to that #FF that show up in my feed. Yes, the devil!

    • =D I love the retweet button! Yes, it’s lazy (score), but it’s also bigger. Meaning you don’t have to take up 10 characters out of your 140 to spell some ridiculously long last name like @AnnieNeugebauer or something. Heh. (But seriously, I think it’s a good thing. If you have nothing to add, RTing that way instead of manually typing “RT” gives that person more face time to new followers, which is supposed to be the whole point of RTing.)

  • I’m kind of like a hummingbird on twitter. I go from flower to flower without really thinking. I don’t usually pay attention to rules or decorum. I RT whatever makes me laugh, think, or find interesting in an effort to share. I never use the twitter site because it never lets me quote a RT. #lame.   I usually don’t do a #FF because I follow a ton of people.  I’m honored though when I’m included on a #FF. I do like to add my own commentary because I’ve been known to be funny at times.  And even after being on twitter for about 3 years, I feel all warm and gooey inside when someone favorites my tweet or RT’s me.

    • Oh, me too! For all of my snarkiness here, I am always flattered by a RT or a favorite, no matter the form. =)

  • Melissa Crytzer Fry

    Hilarious. I do remember being as confused as hell when I first started on Twitter (and see that the ‘instruction book’  I consulted has some really old-school suggestions. Ha ha). I notice a lot of authors who simply add their response to the front of a RT as a rule of thumb. Always, always, always. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On one hand, it’s personalized and shows interaction with the person who originally posted the message. But on the other hand, MANY times, I’ve caught the re-tweeter writing something that clearly shows she did not REALLY READ the link on the RT anyway. So is it disingenuous and should she have just pushed the big ol’ Retweet button anyway??? Hmm… I say, yes. In that case, just press the ‘easy’ button.

    • Thanks Melissa! And yes, you’ve called out one of the worst. People retweeting things they’ve obviously not actually read… that is bad behavior! Your (the general you, here) followers (hopefully) trust you. Why would you betray that trust by recommending something you might not even like? That always makes me so mad. So I 100% agree; no RTs unless you’ve read it and really thought it was worth sharing!

  • Brooke Passey

    Haha thank you. I fit into the “young grasshopper” category and I quite enjoyed this because I didn’t understand how to RT. I especially liked the one about thank you and #FF posts from the devil. Agreed.

    • =D That’s great to hear! So glad you liked it. Thanks very much for stopping by.

  • Pingback: Writer Unboxed » How to Tweet so People Will Listen()

  • Love this post! Sent here from Nina Badzin – Writer Unboxed. I’m sure I’ve made plenty of RT booboos in the past few months…trying to learn from what other people do is a bit of a minefield.  Thanks for this list…makes a tonne of sense to me. 🙂

    • Thank you Alarna, and welcome! Always nice to see a new name around here. =) So glad you enjoyed the post. And yes, Twitter can be an etiquette minefield, which is why people like Nina Badzin are so wonderful to have around!

  • Maryjarvis2008

    sorry…I seem to be such a newbie that none of this makes any sense…Grasshopper.

    • Mary, no need to apologize! Twitter is a very confusing place at first. I actually almost quit after my first week. If you hang in there and learn things slowly enough to not be overwhelmed, you’ll catch on.