Ah, retweeting. It is both the blessing and bane of Twitter. On one hand, it helps spread important messages to those who might not otherwise see them. But it can get totally out of hand and become redundant -- like that kid's game duck duck goose -- walking around in a circle, patting the same people over and over on the head.
Let's take a look at six annoying retweeting habits and how to remedy them.
Retweeting inside the circle jerk.
Know your audience. If all the people who follow you are following each other, there's really no need to retweet, unless it's something spectacularly important, like "Breaking News: Castro is Dead. Seriously, he really is this time. Meetup tonight, Versailles 8PM."
In most cases, retweeting works best if you are reaching an audience of followers who might not otherwise see the original tweet -- for example, sharing links to articles, publishing an event or helping out with a question.
Retweeting someone else's Follow Friday.
If you're going to participate in Follow Friday, for Pete's sake, think about it. Recommend people you haven't recommended before to your newbies. Don't just copy someone else's warmed-over list.
Far more effective is to make well-thought out individual connections on Twitter: "Yo, bitch! You like being spanked and this dude likes rosy-cheeked asses. Follow each other."
It's about quality versus quantity, which is why yours truly isn't crazy about Follow Friday, though she appreciates those who give her love. A couple of solid introductions per week goes a long way in establishing a quality network.
Retweeting yourself after somebody already retweeted you.
Do you stare at a mirror all day long and ask: "Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" If you're retweeting your own tweet after somebody has already graciously retweeted it for you, that's pretty much the same narcissistic, low-self esteem crap pulled by the evil queen. Cut it out. You sent your message once -- no need to do it again!
If you really need to spread the word about something, publish a different tweet about the same subject at a different time. If you must repeat, at least make it interesting.
Requesting retweets should be as discreet as requesting sexual favors. Only ask the right people; you're actually going to have to thinkabout who you want to get into Twitter bed with. If you start acting like a Twitter ho asking for retweets all the time, nobody is going to want to Twitter sleep with you. Discretion is the better part of retweeting.
It's called Twitter, Not Re-Twitter.
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Hey, we all need a little mood lift now and then, and it's wonderful to be in good company on Twitter -- that's what Twitter friends are for! An occasional (and ideally original) inspiring tweet is a good thing. But if you keep retweeting inspirational, Hallmark-like quotes you need Twitter therapy, my friend. There's no better way to lose followers, and you'll end up all alone in the corner with your scotch and Prozac. If your followers want quotes, they can follow Jack Handy directly.
Using a period before @username is just like a retweet and can be very annoying.
Everybody uses this trick because it's so gossipy. Joe is having a conversation with Jane, which all their mutual followers can see, but Joe wants ALL his damn followers to see it too. Well, you know what, Joe? Maybe we don't ALL want to see your stupid conversation about latex versus polyurethane condoms. Think long and hard before you share conversations with the whole world, unless it's really going to benefit your audience. If your mutual followers want to butt in, they will. And your non-mutual followers? Hello? They're not following you mutually. They don't give a shit.
There are no steadfast rules for Twitter and everybody can use it anyway they want. But understanding that it's like being in a living room with five million of your BFFs will make it a better experience for everybody.