Elements of Style for Twitter: ReTweets and Follow Friday

This is the first in what may end up being a series of posts. This is my attempt to provide some proper style guidelines for Twitter. It is my hope that, with enough uptake, these will help to raise the level of conversation and quality on Twitter. If you do not know what Twitter is (and hopefully you enjoy that rock you are living under) please see: http://twitter.com/

The Useful ReTweet

A ReTweet (RT) is the re posting of a tweet that someone you follow has posted so that your followers might be exposed to the information if they, themselves, do not follow the original author of the tweet.

Here is an example of how it is often done…

Original Tweet:

Here is a great link on personal productivity. Get your butt in gear: http://examplehere.com

ReTweet:

RT @patrickrhone: Here is a great link on personal productivity. Get your butt in gear: http://examplehere.com

The problem with this is that there is no context provided by the retweeter as to why he or she may find this important enough to retweet. It is for this reason that I generally suggest avoiding them. Instead, choose to do what I like to call a “via” instead.

Here is the Original Tweet again:

Here is a great link on personal productivity. Get your butt in gear: http://examplehere.com

Via:

This is a fantastic post about productivity. Really helped me out: http://examplehere.com (via @patrickrhone)

The advantage to this is that now those who follow you to hear your voice and opinions actually receive them. Not those that belong to someone who they may or may not choose to follow.

The Proper “Follow Friday”

Follow Friday is a kind of Twitter tradition. Basically, every Friday you post a Tweet to recommend people you think are worth following and include the #followfriday hashtag.

Here is an example of the usual and, in my opinion, unstylish norm for this:

Follow @person1, @person2, @person3, @person4, @person5, #followfriday

I hate it when people do it like this example (just spew a list of usernames). I think what would be far more stylish and useful to do something like this:

Follow @person1 for great quotes, funny asides and interesting links #followfriday

By doing so, you are telling your followers not only who you think they should follow but also why. Therefore they can make an informed choice on the matter without needing to do further research.

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