Introducing The Ego Retweet

Researchers at Microsoft have been applying their large brains to the phenomenon of retweeting, the act of copying and rebroadcasting other people’s insight, anecdote and trivia on the microblogging site Twitter.

Indeed, as the author’s of the draft paper observe, the retweet (RT) is much more than “copying and rebroadcasting”:

Spreading tweets is not simply to get messages out to new audiences, but also to validate and engage with others.

All in all it’s a pretty interesting read, even if it does weigh in at 8,000 words. It deals with:

  • RT practitioners (the ‘preservers’ and the ‘adapters’)
  • the nature of a RT (more likely to contain a # hashtag and a link than other tweets) and,
  • reasons for the RT (to amplify, to validate, as an act of loyalty etc)

Another reason for the retweet is to disseminate tweets about yourself:

Some see this as “narcissistic” or “self-serving,” while others see it as a way of giving credit to and appreciating the person talking about them.

Welcome to the Ego Retweet.

The researchers give the example of a recipient of a #followfriday tweet who re-sent it (with a thank-you, naturally), thus amplifying his new found status as someone worth reading.

There’s also an example of big business retweeting a customer’s message that mentions their product or service (in this case @southwestair). Designed as a means of validation, it’s a practice that can easily backfire:

Many marketers wish to be in conversation with their consumers, not all consumers are looking to be in conversation with marketers.

Related:
Here’s Why Twitter As Glorified RSS Misses The Point
Five Ways News Organisations Should Use Twitter

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