Retweets Welcome

Thumbs upMitch Joel says ““I’ll tweet that” is the ultimate insult.” 

The gist of Mitch’s argument is that “tweeting” takes almost zero effort – you push a few buttons, hit enter and it’s done. A few months back, people would perhaps write a blog post about what you said, which took much more commitment and could potentially drive lots of traffic over time.

He also notes that only a small proportion of users are on Twitter at any one time. For the others, “…odds are that piece of content will become nothing more than road kill on the information superhighway.”

This leads Mitch to conclude that tweeting about someone’s content is “almost a cop-out” and to wonder if someone tweeting about you is “the ultimate insult.”

Re-tweeting is a compliment

I disagree with Mitch’s perspective for four key reasons:

  • You may not have something useful to add to that excellent post you’ve just written. I think there’s little use in blogging about a topic without adding value.
  • One of Twitter’s greatest strengths (and issues) is that Twitter exponentially increases the volume of information to which you’re exposed. Blogging takes a long time. I wrote down five topics today alone that I want to write about. Most of those will never see the light of day, because tomorrow I’ll think of or read another five things. As much as I like your content, I don’t have time to write about everything. You’re probably in the same situation. 
  • The argument that “a tweet does drive traffic, but it’s nothing like a Blog post or a position on a Blogroll” implies by extension that comments also have little value, as they only reach the people who are already on your site. However, I value comments highly, as I know most people, including Mitch, do too.
  • Posting on Twitter about something still requires you to put your name next to it. I may not have written the post, but by tweeting about it I’m saying I agree with it. To me, that’s worth something.

If someone tweets about something I’ve written, I’m delighted. Presumably they’ve read it and they’ve enjoyed it, or it made them think. That alone makes me happy. The fact that they want to tell others is even better.

I get the difference in commitment. I get that tweeting about something takes less effort than a blog post, and has less long-term impact than a blogroll.

I still appreciate it.

The value you put on different forms of interaction will vary by personal. What’s your perspective?

Update: Mitch has commented below and updated his post. I’ll wait while you read it… ok,? So, what do you think?

I’ve disagreed with Mitch on a couple of things recently. I suspect that’s because I consume more of his content than that of almost anyone else – on his blog, on Six Pixels of Separation and on Media Hacks. Mitch rocks. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you subscribe to all three. 

  • I disagree also, it depends on where you have your numbers 😉 http://twitter.com/styletime/status/1341585909

    Last week a post I tweeted got 6K hits over 2 days from one tweet! If that’s an insult then insult me everyday of the week and twice on Tuesdays!
    If I blogged about it maybe a couple of hundred at most 😉

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  • Good points which echo the comments I added on the initial post (by the way I Re-Tweeted as well as commenting). I wonder how much the post was designed to generate traffic to the blog post as well as start a debate? Certainly worked – good job Mitch!

  • I don’t think it can be viewed as an either-or. Based on my own experience, I tend to tweet links to posts that I wouldn’t otherwise blog about. If a post is really, really compelling, I’ll take the time to blog about it. But a tweeted link usually stands in place of doing nothing at all, not in place of blogging it.

  • karmicangel

    I agree with you, Dave even though I don’t think I have ever retweeted someone… not officially… but if I read something that someone else has written and I agree with it, I will tweet about it, or direct people to it on my blog. That is for reasons 2 and 3 above, I have a circle of friends who I think would be interested (that perhaps did not hear about it from the first tweet) and because I agree with it. I don’t think there’s any shame in it Mitch, sorry to disagree, but I’ve quoted you, tweeted about your ideas and written comments about you. I think it is slightly flattering, but at the very least it is meant to be supportive.

  • I think he also misses some other points:

    – Tweets get indexed by Google, so they *are* permanent, arguably in perhaps the most important way.

    – Many people follow only a small (<100) number of accounts, and read ALL the tweets in their stream. So they will read a tweet even if they’re offline most of the day.

    – If someone who follows a large number of people retweets, it means they’ve selected your content from a very large pool. Given the volume of links per day, someone taking the time to select your material IS a complement.

    So I disagree with him too 🙂

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  • I also disagree with Mitch… hey, wait a second… that’s me!

    If people had followed my post and subsequent comments, then you would know that I was NOT talking about how great Twitter is to share information, pass it along and get content recognized.

    I was speaking, specifically, about those with Blogs, clout and community who now use Twitter to brush off people, while at the same time trying to make it sound like they are doing you a favor by exposing your content to their network.

    So, as always, the devil is in the details and I should have been more detailed about “who” I was talking about. I tried to correct it in the comments section, but maybe I should just update the Blog post?

    In any event, please do Tweet, Retweet and favorite any and all content that you love – I know I do… and it’s one of the main reasons I love Twitter: the discovery of it all.

  • Hey, nice to see Mitch here disagreeing with himself – more kudos and respect from me 😉

    The main thing I’d disagree with on Mitch’s original post (and I’ll pop over there once I’m finished here) is the comparison between a tweet and blogroll position.

    I’d say there’s no difference – both have to be seen to start with. You won’t find new blogs on a blogroll if you don’t know where the blog is to start with – a tweet can help you do this.

    But… you also have to see that tweet to start with. So, round one even? 😉

  • Mitch is sounding like John Kerry now, “I was in favor of retweets before I voted against them”. Seriously, the RT is the ultimate form of word of mouth on twitter. Part of its beauty is that it doesn’t take much effort so there is a low barrier to participation. And the benefits to the blogger of increased awareness and traffic not only are tremendous, but trackable. And if you use a trackable url shortener like bit.ly, you can really gauge the impact.

  • Not sure when I said anything bad about retweets ever. In fact, I said: “if the content of the tweet has any real merit, people will retweet it which can – to a lesser degree – drive an immediate surge of traffic. My guess would be that the half-life of that is significantly less than the power of a formal (and permanent) Blog post.”

    That was my only mention of retweets (which I do love).

  • Mitch – thanks for your thoughts.

    Agree or disagree, you always make me think. In most cases, it turns out we aren’t so far apart in our thinking after all. In all cases, the debate is good.

  • I will add this Dave: How would the PR/Media Relations professionals feel if most of their Blogger outreach came back as, “the person did a Tweet about us?”. I believe in the power of Twitter – just look at my Blog and my presence there – but media relations professionals are having a hard time convincing their clients about the value of a Blog post when compared to “ink”… what if all of the people you were now reaching out to simply threw you one mercy-tweet just to get you off their case?

    It’s something to consider. It’s a trend I have been noticing. It was the point of my Blog post that started this 🙂

  • Like many of the comments above, I also agree with the general sentiment that RTs are good. They are a way of showing respect, or agreement, or promoting something worthwhile.

    That said, there is 1 potential down side to an RT. In some cases, I RT something interesting, although I may not agree with the POV, to generate healthy debate and discussion on that topic. The mere act of RT can imply consent or that you agree with the POV. In some cases, my RT was misinterpreted to mean I support the opposite POV.

    So while RT are overall a good thing to me, they aren’t perfect. 140 characters cannot always convey everything necessary for good communication.

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  • I am a busy person, so I’ll take my blogging even if it is micro-blogging any way I can do it.

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  • I think retweet is a complimant because the person who is retweeting sending that tweet to his followers is it true….

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