More Retweets? Why Bother, Go For More Shares Across Platforms

Let me preface this by stating that I really do like Chris Brogan – I link to him frequently, share his posts across social media, and am a fan of what he does.  But, if the blogosphere is great at one thing – it is bringing all sides to something, which I’d like to spend a minute doing.

Chris wrote a post yesterday titled:  Spread Your Wings- Get More Retweet Action Today.  I’m not sure why this rubbed me the wrong way, maybe it is because I think it is a better strategy to make good content that isn’t tailored to a specific platform than try and design something for one network.

After reading through his post/comments and thinking about how much has been written on Twitter-specific strategies as of late, I have a few points I’d like to remind everyone:

  • Sharing content on the web is as old as the web itself, and is not new or exclusive to Twitter.
  • Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, FriendFeed, etc. all have massive communities of people sharing content – Twitter is not the end-all-be-all of content discovery nor is it the best.
  • Creating content for the sole purpose of retweets is missing the point.
  • Other social sites actually send far more traffic than Twitter, to focus purely on Twitter is shortsighted (I would never trade my Stumble traffic for Tweets).
  • Google is still the most valuable source of traffic, in my opinion, because regardless of whether you keep up with the constant churn of real-time Google sends a stable amount of highly-relevant traffic daily.

Back to Chris’ post on getting more retweets, here is my perspective on his points:

  • Make sure your post info has room for your original info plus a retweet. If your original post is close to 140 characters, the person retweeting has to edit your post to send it back out. Smells like work? People won’t make extra effort to retweet you if they have to edit your posts.

As a content creator, I disagree – people will share great work regardless of how long the title is.  I have seen plenty of content with long titles go popular.  Making your post titles shorter is not a guarantee of anything – it is just convenience for Twitter,  but I wouldn’t tailor content just for one service.  It’s like adding social sharing buttons to your site – they help a little, but if your content rocks people will take the time to share it regardless of if they exist or not.

Users always take the time to shorten a longer title if they thought it was worth sharing and it doesn’t fit in their social sharing site of choice.  Think of how few characters you can put into a Digg story title – Digg titles get shortened by user submitters who actually take the time to write it “for” the network themselves because they want it to go popular.  Reddit on the other hand encourages long titles.  My point is that users know what they are doing and will share your content in the right way on their network of choice for you, but only if they dig it.

  • Make sure you use URL shorteners like bit.ly or is.gd or ow.ly (there are dozens) to get back more of your real estate.

Twitter will shorten a long URL anyway if you forget, but everyone on Twitter you want retweeting your stuff knows to do this.  If they don’t, it probably doesn’t matter much if they tweet it.

  • If you’re going to tweet a URL, give folks a sense of what they’re clicking into. For instance, I use (video) or (youtube) when pointing to a YouTube video. And make sure you use (NSFW) on things that are Not Safe For Work.

This adds nothing for me personally – descriptive headlines matter more.  If we’re going for brevity you’re just taking up space with this.  Also, as an aside – don’t ever Tweet anything that is NSFW unless you want to kill your credibility.

  • The more helpful or entertaining your tweet, the more likely people will take an action.

This is good advice, I’m with Chris.

  • The more jumbled with @ names and multiple urls and hashtags your tweet is, the less likely it will be retweeted.

Also spot on.

  • People will gladly retweet causes (unless you fatigue us).

Yes, but you should definitely have something in mind here other than just sharing a cause.  Good content and the right hooks still apply.

  • Starting a tweet with an @ means that a good chunk of folks won’t see it.

On the other hand, tweeting something to an influencer like @SteveRubel means he’ll see it and potentially RT it – so don’t discount that as a strategy.

  • Retweet other people and promote other people 15x to every 1 time of your effort.

As a blogger, this isn’t relevant.  Just write good content and people will share/tweet/stumble it.  It’s as simple as that.  If you’re using Twitter and not blogging – well, here’s 19 reasons to start blogging too.

  • Don’t tweet every damned thing you write about or do. Folks will fatigue quickly.

Good advice – less is more.

  • Befriend and add value to the best retweeters. It’s a live network, a human network, a give-and-take relationship.

From a personal standpoint, my strategy in Twitter is actually a lack thereof.  I just share what is interesting and am myself.  I don’t worry about ratios or retweeting or much of anything.  Chris is right, Twitter is a live, human network – however I don’t necessary repeat things just because someone influential, interesting or important says something.  I try and find my own way to say things to the world, and I think this is something that everyone should do.  We’re not parrots, we’re human – be yourself and say things uniquely.

The bottom line?  Don’t worry about Twitter or any one network, stop worrying about getting retweets, and just throw your passion/creativity behind what you are doing online in your own unique space.  If you do this it will get noticed, I promise.  That’s how to win long term.

Quick update – Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins weighs in on the discussion.

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