Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 30, 2010 8:01 AM

The Gentle Art Of The Retweet

As Twitter evolves and grows, the etiquette and "rules" change, morph and evolve along with it.

Recently, a very influential person on Twitter sent me a direct message saying that they were insulted because I had thanked a few people for retweeting one of my tweets, but I forgot to thank this individual. They were even more insulted because the people I had thanked were actually retweeting this individual's tweet (and not mine).

I suck at Twitter.

I sort of knew that before (more on that here: The Trouble With Twitter - Confessions Of A Twitter Snob), but as the platform grows, I'm getting even suckier at it. I find it hard to follow everyone back. I don't like following companies or brands that I am not in love with. I rarely thank anyone for retweeting my content. It takes me forever to respond to direct messages. People often ask me questions, but by the time I respond they've usually forgotten what their question was in the first place. I tend to be on Twitter when most people are busy enjoying their lives, etc...

Maybe we're all still getting used to how real-time chat in 140 characters really works... and it's not so obvious/easy?

The hardest part about all of this is that I am actually trying. I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter, and I'm constantly trying to post relevant content and context about Marketing, but I can never seem to really get my head above the wave and - more often than not - I feel like I'm barely treading water. Beyond apologizing profusely to this individual with a sincere mea culpa, I also wondered...

What do most people think of thanking those who retweet their content?

So, I hopped over to Twitter and asked. It turns out I'm not alone in my thanking suckage. That being said, the responses ran the gamut from "I thank people publicly for every retweet" to "there really is no point in just thanking someone for a retweet." The general sentiment expressed back, was that most people don't thank others for retweets because they feel that it clutters up the twitterstream. Beyond that, a lot of people agreed that while they do not thank people for retweets, they make sure to respond to every question asked of them.

So, what do most people think about thanking those who retweet their content? Here's what I learned:

  • People do thank for retweets, but claim they do so because they don't have that many followers, and it's fairly easy.
  • People try, but think they fail at it (like I do).
  • People try, but say that they only do it hours after it first appeared and they often get a message back saying, "thanks for what?"
  • People don't do it publicly but send that person a direct message (sometimes).
  • People don't publicly thank for any retweets.

There were also these tweets of wisdom:

  • "I always think 'Thank you' but I don't always type the words." - via @MegMathur.
  • "Not if it just a RT, I treat it as a little gift. If RT with a interesting comment then I reply w/comment. But not a thanks." - via @avinash.
  • "A better way to thank someone for RTing you is to RT something interesting of theirs. Sometimes I DM them instead." - via @aussiegoldy.
  • "I try to acknowledge near 100% of nice direct comments, but retweets only upon occasion. (Though I obviously appreciate!)" - via @tom_peters.

Now, it's your turn: what do you make of all of this?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Cyrus Alcala
    Mitch Joel

    "Brevity is the soul of wit" by William Shakespeare.

    It all drops down to cultivation of goodwill, something or someone who is promoting good (or best) stuff are worth re-tweeting for.

    Reply
    • The problem with thanking everyone public is that a Twitterstream like mine will be filled with content that may turn off new people. I don't want to dilute what I'm posting on Twitter with a lot of thank-you's. This is a challenge because I am so genuinely thankful for everyone who does spread my content... it's a conundrum!

      Reply
      • Posted by Paul Castain
        Mitch Joel

        I never really thought about it from that perspective Mitch. While I try to thank everyone (publicly) for their RT's I've seen others simply send a blanket thank you to all who RT'd a particular article etc.

        Gratitude, in general is often neglected in this world where we now move at the speed of light. I think this is a great way to stand out from the masses.

        Guess I too am looking for that happy medium.

        Respectfully,
        Paul Castain

        Reply
        • I'm with you - a "thank you" can go a long, long way. But, this opens up an additional/great question: would a tweet like: "thanks to everyone for the kind retweets of my content" be sufficient?

          Also, can you imagine the amount of people who will read this and set up an automatic tweet in Hootsuite do this 1-3 times a day? ;)

          Reply
  • Posted by Donna Karlin
    Mitch Joel

    I continue to wonder whether or not all the time I spend trying to figure out the etiquette of Twitter, thanking people, following people who follow me (as I'm told it's what we have to do on there) is worth all the time, thought and effort. If I spent my time reading great content like your blog, that is a better use of my time. If I use my Twitter figuring out time to do more writing, teaching, client work, I think the ripple effect would be much more powerful.

    Do I have the time to read content of thousands who might end up following me on there? I think not. Do I want to waste time that way wading through to find something great when I can come here or read Seth's words of wisdom instead? Definitely.

    Reply
    • I struggle with both the time it takes and the true relevance of a thank you. I recognize that common courtesy is important (just as important online), but I often find myself saying "thank you" after a 6 hour flight and the person doesn't even remember the retweet and doesn't answer back. I also don't want to be in a position where I am only thanking the a-listers and making everyone else feel less important (which they are not - all retweets are created equal!).

      And, like you, I find the etiquette evolves as the platform evolves and I just don't know that I am in sync with it as it's been growing with such velocity.

      Reply
  • Posted by Cyrus Alcala
    Mitch Joel

    To share again, the act of giving acknowledgement itself is highly relative to the point of views or the weight of the matters.

    Denial of freedom is, of course, denial of responsibility.

    people think stuffs like, "WHY?"

    Doubts hinder recognitions.


    On the other side,

    We naturally sense things from what they are to where they may go.

    We act based on our notions of advantages both ourselves and to others, reaching best conversations are always a choice.

    Reply
    • and in the end... I am so thankful for all of the feedback and attention, and I would hate to think that anyone on the planet thinks that I am being ungrateful - because I'm not.

      In fact, it's the complete opposite.

      Reply
  • Posted by Tamara Hogan
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, I think many of us are digitally overloaded as it is - I know I am - so I have to do something to triage the incoming shrapnel, and to reduce the bits and bytes I add to the mix. In doing so, I'm sure there are tweeps I'm royally pissing off. There are Twitter memes I have to completely ignore (like #FF) because I don't have the time or brainspace. I find Twitter provides me with the most value when I can have (or join) an actual conversation with people who share my interests. I'll respond to all @comments, but otherwise? I don't expect people to retweet what I tweet. I'm just not that fascinating. ;-)

    Reply
    • Yeah - that's another one I suck at... the old Follow Friday (#ff). I think it's such a brilliant meme and people do add me to their list. The few times I did a thank you, they came back with a "for what?"

      There's this weird part of me that thinks some folks are automating their tweet backs to thank those who are retweeting them. I could do that, but I find it so inauthentic.

      Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    With the exception of spammers, I think it makes the other side feel appreciated - and want to do more RTs for you - if one say thanks for RT publicly. Even if it takes days to get there. You never know who you're talking to on the other side. They might be your potential clients. Just my 2 cents.

    Reply
    • I totally agree with you, Dewita. I tried this once one day when I was actually in the office and in front of my laptop all day. At the end of the day, I looked back on my tweets and saw nothing but "thank you"'s and emoticons and I wondered what someone who was just about to add me might think.

      One of the key learnings about discussing this issue is that it also depends on the person, what their day-to-day job looks like and the volume of connections they're having. It seems like those are the key areas in determining how to respond.

      In the end, I'd prefer people connecting here, on the Blog - where I put a ton of time and energy into really becoming friendly with people.

      Reply
  • Posted by Dan Wallace
    Mitch Joel

    That "very influential peson" on Twitter was being a thin-skinned nag. Thanking people for every RT does indeed clutter up the Twitter stream, and reduces the time you have available to get something useful out of the service. That said, i totally agree with the person who said you must respond to every question asked of you.

    Reply
    • They are actually a pretty amazing individual who I have nothing but respect for. And, with all of the attention that was sent my way, I was at fault for not thanking them (and it was a very stupid oversight). When I was in the midst of the conversation with this person, it really struck me that I was unfamiliar with the netiquette surrounding Twitter, but when I put the question out to the community on Twitter, I felt better knowing that there are no hard and fast rules - and that many people are struggling with it.

      Some people do a ton of thanking because of the goodwill, and others don't because they don't want to clog the stream. Both strategies make a ton of sense to me... I just don't know where I net out on all of this.

      Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    I thank people for retweeting, because they are acknowledging that something I said was of value. For me, being thankful is key to having good manners and being polite.

    Reply
    • I know you're right. I know you're right. I know you're right... I'm not sure I can spend my day doing it though... ugh...

      Reply
      • Mitch Joel

        That being said... I would imagine that once you reach the respectable status that you have or Chris Brogan, or any of those other guys... people understand when they are not thanked for a retweet. They realize that your time is in high demand.

        I was very flattered when Eric Qualman, @equalman, thanked me for a retweet once.... completely unexpected on my part. You would fall into that same category. If you want honest feedback from a regular user... Considering your status, I would not expect a thank you from you for every retweet... then again... that's just me. :)

        Reply
  • Posted by Peter Osborne
    Mitch Joel

    I also struggle with this as I build my Twitter presence (I've only been on a month or so). It seems to me that replies and thanks are confusing to my followers without context so I've been using Direct Messages more. In the early stages of my Twitterdom, I am publicly thanking people for following me (in a weekend set of mass messages), but really don't know if that's appreciated, appropriate, or a breach of etiquette.

    As for retweets, I'm still figuring out the best things to tweet and am looking forward to the day where I'm sending out enough interesting items that thanking people for retweeting them is an issue.

    Peter

    Reply
  • Posted by Jim Walton
    Mitch Joel

    I just hope for tweet karma; I retweet without expecting anything, but if I post relevant interesting content than I hope others will RT. I think that getting upset over not receiving acknowledgment on twitter defeats the purpose of RTing. I'm putting my brand on twitter because I hope people will enjoy it, not because I expect obligatory politeness.

    Reply
    • This works for me too. When someone retweets me, I hop over to check them out. If they are interesting to me, I follow them. At that point, I like the idea of retweeting their content and introducing them to my community better than a simple "thanks" for a RT of my own content.

      Reply
  • Posted by Dom Coballe
    Mitch Joel

    Current Twitter etiquette is pretty much an exact replica of grade school dynamics. Let me be the first here to present the following theory. While this theory can't be blanketed over everyone, people either suspect this or know it for fact.

    Thanking retweeters help keep the original tweet/tweerer 'top-of-mind" for a further few (brief yet vital) moments in the collective stream. So and so found me and my tweet interesting enough to retweet, so you should consider retweeting it and or start following me.

    It's a validation to their current followers, and helps promote them to potential followers. I matter.

    Full disclosure: I have never thanked anyone for retweeting by a reply, DM, or following them, which is clearly reflected in my followers count. Nor, do I expect a thank-you for retweeting their content.

    Reply
  • Posted by Donna Papacosta
    Mitch Joel

    I don't like cluttering up my twitter stream with thank-yous. If I RT someone and someone else RTs THAT, I do not thank them. If someone spontaneously RTs one of my posts, I thank them, usually via DM. Sometimes I will send someone a DM thanking them for "all of their RTs this week" or something like that. I also try to reciprocate by RTing their interesting content. So I guess my answer is: I don't thank everyone. Am I a twitter failure?

    Reply
  • Good post Mitch,

    I have the same questions about "Thanks for RT." I wish that Twitter etiquette was clearer about that.

    For now, I try to thank for the RT (I am not convince that it is a good idea). Usually in DM (if they follow me). Something I thanks publicly, but I don't want to clutter my stream.

    For sure, when I thanks, I like to include the original tweet. It could read: Thanks for RT // "content of my tweet." This way, the person knows why I thank her.

    Denis Francois Gravel
    PRESENTability.com

    Reply
  • Posted by Joel Foner
    Mitch Joel

    There is a very concrete value delivered in thanking someone for a retweet. You are exposing your entire list of followers to this other person - someone who took the time to retweet your material, and thus help your visibility. On one hand a retweet is one-sided... that person decided it would be useful or interesting to push your content to their list. On the other hand, a thank you is an acknowledgement that the retweet is valuable to you, and returning that value by increasing the other person's exposure as well.

    Although that mechanical explanation is true, I still think it is completely up to you whether you thank or not, and I have some issue with folks who get highly miffed if they do not get a thank you. That, to me, suggests that they may be re-tweeting for the wrong reason - to get a thank you - rather than because they thought the re-tweet had merit on its own... but perhaps that points to another long discussion about Twitter etiquette and motivations ;)

    Reply
    • And, this is where it gets murky. Let's say you get 100 retweets. Are you really exposing your community to a 100 more people, or are you filling up their Twitterstream with 100 tweets that they may be annoyed with?

      Keep in mind, we're only talking about one tweet. What if you put out 3 tweets and they each get 100 retweets. Doesn't this make it increasingly more challenging for people to wade through your tweets for value?

      Hello rock... meet the hard place.

      Reply
  • Posted by Gigi Belmonico
    Mitch Joel

    Hello Mitch~and thank you for the great post!
    I believe that more than most anything in this world, people want to be connected....and with Twitter, a RT is an easy way to connect with someone. I always always always say thank you for a RT, even if it is a day or so later when I see it. Someone that is "seeing you" via your tweets and helping spread your message in this way most definitely deserves a thank you! As Michelle wrote in an earlier response, it is good manners! As far as newcomers to twitter...if they are looking at your feed and see a lot of thank-yous to people that find your content relevant and witty, isn't that a better "problem" than seeing that people have tried to connect with you and been virtually ignored? No one is ever too busy to say thank you....and if they are, then they are busy doing things that really do not matter. I happily choose to be the Twitter girl with a LOT of thank yous on my stream!
    Again, thank you for your great post~very thought provoking!
    XOXO
    Gigi Belmonico

    Reply
    • I noticed you have close to 6000 followers on Twitter. How much time does it take for you to do all of those thanks? Also, do you find that this helps builds your audience or do you think that fewer people might follow you because your twitterstream is filled with "thank you's"?

      Reply
  • Posted by Jackie Cameron
    Mitch Joel

    Twitter is about conversation for me. So if someone RTs one of my tweets I thank them and use the rest of the 140 characters to ask how they are, or what they are up to , or to tell us their news. Then I gain a bit of insight to some more of my followers. In the moment the flash of conversation feels good ( to me anyway) and if something more comes from it then all the better. I don't have such a big band of followers or write such amazing stuff that RTs count to more than a few each day though. I guess it is all about working with what you have!

    Reply
    • It sounds like the perfect plan, Jackie. Please do let us know how this scales as your following grows. I do know that acting the way you are acting will scale your community fast and I'd be curious to know how you keep up/keep pace.

      Reply
  • Posted by Rosemary ONeill
    Mitch Joel

    I'm still in the stage of "woohoo, someone RT'd me!" So I'm pretty much in there thanking right away, like a wet puppy dog. However, I usually use DM because the cluttered tweetstream bothers my OCD :). Someday, I hope to have the problem of not being able to keep up with RTs, and when that happens, I might try the "thanks to @someone, @someone, @someone...for the RTs" Those don't seem to be as cluttery as the steady stream of single thank-yous.

    Also thanks for exposing your vulnerable underbelly with this post...it's self-revealing stuff like this that actually helps us n00bs.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kristen Sukalac
    Mitch Joel

    For me, it depends on whether the person comments on my link in the RT. I know that when I forward something without commenting, it's because I think it's interesting and others might think so too. When I comment, though, it means I'm more engaged with the content. I react to RTs in the same way. If someone comments, I'll thank them and respond to their comment. Otherwise I usually just let it go. I appreciate it, but I can't spend my day tracking RTs and I'm pretty sure that there are some that I don't see for whatever reason. If it's one of my blogpost tweets, I usually will RT, but that's also partly because it's good promotion for my articles that someone thinks they're worth passing on. On the flipside, I RTed another Tweep 3 times this week. Each time I got the same generic "Thanks for the RT". I found the first one useless. By the 3rd, I was annoyed: if he's going to bother replying couldn't he make a point to acknowledge that this is the third time and maybe actually address a personal comment to me?

    Reply
    • Nothing like trying to make something as human as a "thank you" completely automated to actually net you out with the exact opposite result that you had intended. Human laziness can astonish us... can't it?

      Reply
  • Posted by Daria Steigman
    Mitch Joel

    Hi Mitch,

    There seem to be two issues at play here. One is "etiquette," the other is how YOU do or don't use Twitter.

    First, I don't believe in a "separate" Twitter etiquette. And I am in the camp that says you should thank people. It's common courtesy offline -- so why do people think it's irrelevant online? Especially with so many people incapable of doing so, you will stand out. I've seen people thank "everyone for the RTs today" and that's okay too if there are a lot of them.

    RE your struggles with Twitter: it just might not be the medium for you personally. I had a conversation with a colleague on Friday about social media channels & platforms we use ourselves versus those we learn, explore, understand, and might recommend to our clients. I personally like to connect via Twitter; I'm less fond of Facebook. So guess where I spend more of my time?

    My two cents,
    Daria

    Reply
    • I do love Twitter, and I do find that I spend a lot of time learning and growing from the platform. It has, practically, replaced my need for a RSS reader. I'm just very cognizant of filling my feed with more content that most people might ignore/find annoying. I'm going to experiment with the idea of thanking everyone for retweets and see if it sticks.

      Reply
  • I think it depends on the expectations you've set for the people that follow you. If you tend to thank them for every mention or retweet, then when they do engage it'd be irresponsible to neglect it. I can see your point about time and the potential crowding of your stream, but remember when you thank someone, only the people that follow you and the person you're thanking will see the tweet (the @ ). Though it seems like ancient technology, it's still so new, isn't it?

    Reply
    • Actually, if you go to: www.twitter.com/mitchjoel you will see that everyone sees everything you tweet. So, if I'm considering following someone, and I see that most of their tweets are just individual "thank you's" I'm less inclined to follow them because I do not want my streams filled with that. And yes, that does show you that this is all new, and that this was never even a thought in the developer's mind because we are mutating Twitter to bend to our will - which is a very cool thing.

      Reply
  • Posted by Dana Richardson
    Mitch Joel

    Noticed you answer almost every response, that's timely and shows you are in fact real and on the ball, and I appreciate that. As Chris Voss says- you are putting the social back in social networking. I think you're right about Twitter, but I also think folks aren't reading books about how to use Twitter, because they figure they can get it out of the grist by simply asking? Your opening paragraph here is masterful, feels true and drew me in, yet, it also made me wonder, because you'd have to spend a lot of time on Twitter, even with TweetDeck, to overcome missing an RT?

    Reply
    • A ton of stuff does slip through the cracks and that's another important point: we are experiencing "filter failure" (just a little bit).

      I sometimes (like you) have the best of intentions, but something slips by or I'm not active online at a point in the day, and I miss something. By the time I get there, the conversation has already passed me by. Again, the Web is still trying to grapple with how the real-time Web is affecting it. Brave new world. Brave new time.

      Reply
  • Posted by Bernie Malinoff
    Mitch Joel

    Hey Mitch, I wouldn't expect you to thank every RT, since the clarity of your stream is of great value for all those (me included) who enjoy the amazing content you produce.

    How about picking 5 people every week - whatever criteria you decide (random selection from your RT's, recent followers etc) ... and giving them a little shout-out.

    Have a great day, Bernie.

    Reply
    • ...and here's the thing: I do, exactly, that. But - as is the reality of Twitter - when I'm doing that, it doesn't mean you see it/you're online. So, when I thank everybody for a retweet, this means that everybody who did retweet my content has to be hanging on my every tweet to see it. The issue here is that a "thank you" is not permanent. It happens in real time and most people's stream have drowned it out by the time it happens. That applies to both retweets or recommending others to follow.

      This isn't just me, I see it when people recommend me (because I call also see how many new followers that generates).

      Reply
  • Posted by Lauren McMullen
    Mitch Joel

    This is a great blog post. Thanks for asking the question because it will show people that there are lots of different perspectives in the Twitterverse. (maybe they will lighten up)
    I don't think manners are ever wrong so if I have time I always Thank people for RTs. If I don't I hope they will not be offended because I know they have been in the same boat before.

    Reply
    • That's an interesting expansion of the idea: let's not think that when somebody doesn't send a "thank you" that they are then being offensive. Billy Joel (no relation ;) sang about going to extremes, and maybe these feelings should not be swayed so dramatically?

      Reply
  • Posted by Lori
    Mitch Joel

    I do my best to thank people who take the time to RT me -- because I do genuinely appreciate it. I try to consolidate thanks tweets so as not to clutter the twitter stream too much -- but on the other hand, I hope people following me like the majority of my tweets enough to be patient when I do.

    Better than thanks though, I feel, is reciprocity. I like to link over to their blog and leave a comment, RT something they tweet about that's RT worthy, or simply @mention them with some conversational get to know you...

    More meaningful than a simple (potentially mandatory thanks) and most likely will gain them more interest from my own followers as well.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kyle
    Mitch Joel

    I try to thank everyone who RTs my content, as I see that as doing me a favour. However, if someone RTs something I say, I don't usually thank anyone. Those off-the-cuff remarks are out there for people to do what they please with.

    In return, if I RT someone's content, I expect a thanks, but don't expect anything if I simply RT a funny tweet, or a simple observation.

    Reply
  • Posted by Will Burns
    Mitch Joel

    For me, Twitter is a one-way street. I follow others but I rarely lead. To your point, it's just too much work and not enough space for anything all that compelling. But people like you send around links to great articles. I love that. It's my own personal "NY Times Editor," only my friends are the editors. So, I guess I deal with it by listening more than I tweet.

    Reply
  • My friend, Rob Cottingham, over at Noise To Signal had a brilliant cartoon published today that fits in perfectly with this content.

    Enjoy: http://www.robcottingham.ca/cartoon/archive/guru/

    Reply
    • Posted by Rob Cottingham
      Mitch Joel

      Thanks for the kind words, Mitch - and as it turns out, the link couldn't be more à propos. I'm dealing with nearly 100 retweets of that cartoon.

      And I'm grateful - really, deeply grateful - for them all. I'd love to send along my appreciation, and I'd love to do it as DMs so I don't want to abuse my followers' attention. But of course, since many aren't following me, that won't be possible.

      If I was a little more cold-blooded about this, I'd use Hootsuite to create a Twitter search stream for the cartoon's URL, then filter for Klout above a certain threshold, and thank those people - say, the 20 highest-ranked. But that feels... icky.

      I'm not sure what the answer is. Maybe a "Thanks for your retweets!" post on my blog. Or maybe I restrict my Twitter thanks to the folks who said something personal. Or maybe just accept that, past a certain level of sheer volume, conversation starts to lose its authenticity... and I just engage with the folks whose comments have made a particular impression on me.

      Reply
      • ... and you're a pro... you're a person who helps brands do this for a living. People think the answer is so simple... it's not. If you figure it out, please let me know, but please don't turn into a robot by using Hootsuite and Klout to automate that process. It would be more than ironic if you suddenly because the caricatures of which you create.

        Reply
        • Posted by Rob Cottingham
          Mitch Joel

          Heh... very true. In many ways, the cartooning helps keep me honest. :)

          You've put your finger on how the idea of conversational media faces some real challenges of scale. There are times on Twitter when you're no longer in a tight little circle of people kibitzing at a party; you're facing a much larger group of people, and their attention is focused on you (or, to dial back the egotism, on something you've created).

          Which reminds me more of traditional one-to-many communications - like, say, performer and audience.

          In those circumstances, you probably don't thank people individually for their applause or cheers ("Vivan Khan, thank you. Adrienne Krakauer, thank you. Simon Kramer, thank...[deep breath]...you. Lee Kwan,...") But you probably acknowledge them as a group, and you may single out a few individuals in the crowd - because they're friends, because they've said something interesting, or because it's an opening to a conversation you'd like to have with them.

          I'll admit it's iffy to apply the expectations of one realm to another. But maybe that offers at least the beginnings of a framework.

          One last thing: the social media world is full, full, FULL of people who want to tell you when you're Doing It Wrong - based on some unshakeable rule of the Internet that they've more or less pulled out of thin air. Maybe that's because of arrogance or dickishness, but I think it may also be insecurity: we're on constantly-shifting ground, and adhering to (and enforcing) rigid, arbitrary rules provides at least the illusion of some degree of control.

          Reply
  • Posted by Tommyismyname
    Mitch Joel

    Nobody knows who I am and I'm not thanking everyone for their RT's

    I do from time to time, or if it's someone I don't know, but there's a small group of people who have made it their mission to get my name out there...

    Personally I think it would look really retarded if I were thanking the same people all the time.

    Don't worry Mitch, I don't think you suck, and nobody even knows who I am...

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    I guess I think of how I feel when someone sends me a "thank you" tweet-mention, and I have to say it doesn't always seem sincere. If it's content I like, I shared it because I liked it, not as a personal favor to the person who wrote it, and so when the writer takes time to thank me, it seems as much that they're advertising the people who are RTing them. I mean, I'm not THAT cynical about it, but I absolutely would never feel slighted because someone I RTed didn't say thanks.

    Reply
    • It's interesting how the tide is turning more towards it not being an important component. I wonder if this is also linked to how new/old the platform is to the individual using it. I've been on Twitter for a while now and - the more I think about it - the less I care about whether or not someone thanks me for retweeting their content.

      Reply
  • Posted by Deborah Hinton
    Mitch Joel

    I'm pretty new at this as you know Mitch. And I'm really terrible at it - no idea what #FF is. But what I do know is that even with my little stream thanks for retweeting are simply wasting everyone else's time. So, a vote for no! Ditto endless public birthday greetings too. OK, it's hot. It's been a long day. And, I'm grumpy.

    By the way love how you're engaging with the comments and commentators!

    Reply
    • #FF is the hashtag for "Follow Friday." It's just a meme where people tweet out people they like/admire on Twitter. It's done on Fridays (duh ;). I'll put your Twitter handle into a Follow Friday tweet, so people can follow you ;)

      Reply
  • Posted by Darren Negraeff
    Mitch Joel

    I think I generally thank people, but I feel awkward doing so (and I'm sure I have far fewer followers than anyone who finds it challenging.) That said, I think a thanks is implied - we all love being retweeted. Better to retweet something that is interesting and worth amplifying. If there is nothing that fits the bill in that person's recent tweet stream, just move on.

    This reminds me of the whole I'm following you, you follow me back, hey you stopped following me, now I'll unfollow you garbage. Why would someone stop following just because they aren't being followed back? You should follow someone if what they say is genuinely useful; likewise, you retweet something because you want to share that exact sentiment - not because you need to be thanked.

    Reply
    • That whole, "I follow you/you follow me" silliness was what sparked my initial Blog post: The Trouble With Twitter - Confessions Of A Twitter Snob (http://www.twistimage.com/blog/archives/the-trouble-with-twitter---confessions-of-a-twitter-snob/). I also never thought of this in such a simple way (as you have).

      You're right: if someone retweets some of my content wouldn't it be implied that I'm thankful?

      The answer is, "yes" but people still have and want the need to be acknowledged.

      Reply
      • Posted by Darren Negraeff
        Mitch Joel

        You're right - people for some reason constantly need that acknowledgement and reassurance. But I really don't want to live in that world (particularly that twitter world) so I guess I will just try never thanking and see what happens. And still, reciprocation has to be better, no?

        Reply
  • Posted by Jim Raffel
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,

    Thanks for sharing the tweets at the end of this post. I see two things there.

    1. You must not have sucked too bad when you asked your question to get the quality of engagement necessary to get those responses.

    2. An attitude of gratitude is never a bad thing. Please, thank you, holding a door for the person you are with....all good. Do we do those things ALL the time. Nope, we are human, we are busy, we are distracted. I strive to thank everyone who has taken the time to retweet content I have shared. I'm guessing I'd get a C on a 100 point scale.

    See ya in the Twitter stream :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Tim Sanchez
    Mitch Joel

    Someone got mad because you didn't thank them for a RT? I know this is crass, but what a douche. I suppose that sums up my thoughts.

    On another note, I can't believe how much time you're spending in the comments. Nice to see, but I'm curious to know what you think about that investment.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Ahhh I am glad I am not the only one who found the thanking RTs a bit weird. I mean I agree with you, of course I am thankful if someone retweets my content, but I never saw the exact point of thanking everyone who does it, especially if RTs rate starts ro raise up.
    It will eventually come to the point where you will have many RTs (hopefully!) and you will have to thank everyone, and missing out someone will end up like in your case.
    So it's probably better to not start at all or possibly send a direct message, I just am not sure how really this thanking thing is perceived by everyone.
    I am fairly sure that many people WILL get offended not receiving a "thank you" back, especially 'cause many Twitter primers out there specifically mention the thanking part as a sort of netiquette rule.

    Reply
    • The whole counter-culture to that is that there are no hard and fast rules... maybe some very rough guidelines? And, by the looks of the comments here, even the pros and the n00bs aren't all in alignment... and nobody is really "wrong".

      Reply
  • Posted by Kneale Mann
    Mitch Joel

    The last time I checked, we all had the same 168 hours a week to do all those things in our lives. You produce a quality post every single day that blows most people out off the screen so your concern about falling short on Twitter fall under the title being too hard on yourself.

    You run a successful digital marketing firm with a hundred employees in two cities, you speak all over the world, do a weekly podcast, host Media Hacks, write for several publications, sit on various marketing boards and I'm sure there's little time left for a life.

    We are in a Lord of the Flies time. There are no rules but everyone is quick to remind us when we break one. Brands are grappling with the online space, friends who can't fathom why anyone would spend a second in a social networking site seem to be doing fine and we all race to the answer of what is the right way to act.

    Years ago, one of my radio mentors said to me on the day of my first on-air shift - find your voice - and that advice still rings true.

    Reply
    • We set the bar/expectations really high. People follow certain individuals but when they cross some random virtual line, everyone feels like they have changed or that they're not staying true to their roots or that they've lost touched.

      The truth is that all of my "giving" in Social Media does flow back (in some strange/disjointed way) to my agency, Twist Image. So, when I think about my involvement in Social Media (whether it's Blogging and Podcasting all of the time or helping to organize an unconference or being active on other Blogs), I often do say to myself, "there's only so much." Meaning, I know I am giving all that I can and a healthy life is about a healthy balance.

      Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    You often see phrases like this on Twitter -

    Great acts are made up of small deeds - Lao Tzu

    I occasionally post:

    Go raibh maith agat :: means [Thank You] In Irish

    ♪ ♪ ♪ The Celtic Tribute to Led Zeppelin - Thank You ♫ http://blip.fm/~tk2w0

    Reply
  • Posted by amolpatil2k
    Mitch Joel

    Retweeting is really the only way to PROPAGATE, which in turn is the only real strength of Twitter. The problem is that it is only a means to an end - the eternal fight for signal noise ratio. Let's be honest about it. Twitter would like the ratio to be lower. The hapless tweeter would like it to be higher than its present abysmal value.

    Twitter is an over-simplified solution to an over-complex problem - many-to-many communication. But Twitter is immensely popular, so naturally the solution lies in third party apps. Usually such apps are minority players but especially in Twitter's case, these process the majority of the tweets. Clearly, the road to better signal noise ratio lies in a new type of third party app that puts the focus on searching over tweeting. For instance, it should be able to figure out, what is breaking, who is breaking, how is it propagating, why is it propagating and then position the user at the most advantageous links in the propagation. Then use the propagation to influence feedback to fine tune the positioning.

    Reply
    • I don't think anyone is questioning the power of the retweet (it is almighty and it's a great metric). The question is do you have to publicly thank people for the retweet? On top of that, I don't want apps that will force us to automate what makes Twitter so awesome: the human connectedness.

      Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    One of the best users of twitter has to be Chris Brogan. He doesn't necessarily thank people for retweeting him but he does engage with his users. He has a great post here:
    http://www.chrisbrogan.com/50-ideas-on-using-twitter-for-business/
    Others that I follow and think they do an awesome job and engaging their followers are Marcia Collier and Ann Handley. Marcia thanks each and every person that retweets her.
    I actually stopped following you Mitch because you never responded to me!

    Reply
  • Posted by Jason
    Jason

    I do not like all the retweet thank yous. It is like spam in my twitter inbox--it clogs things up and makes the real messages get lost.

    If I retweet something, it is because I think it has merit and is something I think my followers will like. It is really a way of saying thank you to the people who posted it. They don't need to thank me--I am already grateful for the information and should be thaning them.

    Reply
  • Posted by Michelle Tripp
    Mitch Joel

    Okay first of all, if someone on Twitter who's "very high profile" has time to reprimand a follower who didn't thank them, there's something seriously wrong!

    As for me, I try to thank everyone who retweets. It's complicated, though... because sometimes I get busy on projects and can't thank until the next morning... or I get so many RT's that it would flood my feed so I thank privately. Or sometimes I get distracted with a meeting, or writing a new post, or something other than Twitter, and too much time passes and it's too late. I feel a lot of gratitude toward people who care enough to retweet so it's important to acknowledge them in some way. But I have to fit Twitter in the moments between real life and real work, so once in awhile Twitter has to wait.

    I'm still blown away that someone DM'd you about it. Congratulations, you must be a source of their narcissistic supply.

    Reply
    • I don't blame that person, and they're right in that I should thank them if they draw all kinds of attention to who I am and what I'm about. I'm a person who is filled with gratitude and I should have been more sensitive (and I wasn't).

      Part of the issue (as I continue to unpeel the layers of this onion) is that Twitter is just not that important to my media production. I have put a lot of my eggs in the Blog and Podcast basket, and Facebook and Twitter are "nice to haves" for me vs. the main way I connect online. It's a personal/strategic choice.

      Reply
  • Posted by Robin Browne
    Mitch Joel

    I am blown away by the oversensitivity and huge expectations in the Twittersphere. The idea that you have to follow everyone that follows you and thank people for retweets is nuts.
    And it's not fair.
    No one says people should "say" thank you for a great blog post by leaving a comment - even though a great post takes a hell of a lot more work than a retweet.
    People should chill - and start commenting.

    Reply
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