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5 Rules of Twitterquette when Asking for #Twitter Retweets

Begging

As social signals continue to rise in prominence when it comes to search engine rankings, there has been a revival in the need for retweets. Google and Bing are assigning a certain level of importance on the sheer organic numbers that are gained when it comes to social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, and Twitter is the easiest of the numbers for a business to be able to influence quickly. Research is showing that increased engagement on an individual page on a website through social media can improve rankings across the board for the domain.

As such, a day that many of us thought (hoped?) was behind us has gained in prominence again. Today, businesses who do not get a good amount of Twitter activity to their domain must ask for retweets since they are the easiest way to influence search rankings. As a result, it's time to dust off the old "Rules of Twitterquette" and recall how to make it happen without risking losing followers or effectiveness altogether.

 

A Brief History

There was a time when Twitter was a tremendous traffic generation tool. I recall several occasions when I received thousands of visitors to my various websites simply by tweeting a link and getting it retweeted by a handful of people. Back then, Twitter was only about 5% links. Today, it's gone in the other direction.

Over time, the need for the retweet faded and in many ways I was pleased by this. You see, I'm not crazy about asking people for anything on social media. If they find value, they'll retweet it, share it, comment on it, or otherwise engage with the content that I post. If they don't find value or simply don't want to interact, that's fine. Even when it was effective for traffic, I didn't like asking. It just didn't seem sincere.

Now, going into 2013, the need is back. We've tested the difference between content and entire websites that get very little social interaction versus similar sites that are able to get retweets, Facebook shares, and Google +1s. The differences are dramatic. Since most businesses are not in a position to generate a ton of social signals simply by posting it, the time has come to pull out the best tool in the bag - asking for it.

 

How to Ask

Here are five rules. They aren't technically rules - ask for retweets in whatever manner you like. I've just found these guiding best practices have shown to be effective.

  1. Keep the post mid-length. Short posts do not get retweeted as much as longer posts, but if it's too long you'll miss the coveted "mention retweet". Remember, there are two types of retweets. When people see your posts and push the Retweet button, they are actually posting your Tweet on their feed. Your avatar appears and there are no additional characters required. However, if they are doing the "mention retweet", they are posting it themselves and adding "RT @0boy" or "Via @0boy" somewhere in the Tweet. If your post even appears to be too long, they'll probably skip it. Keep your posts over 60 characters but under 110.
  2. Request it sparingly. If you ask for retweets every time you have a link, people will stop doing it. As a general rule, there should be at least five Tweets between each request and no more than one a day if you're posting more than six times.
  3. Make it universally important. By "important" that doesn't mean that it needs to be something of a pressing nature. It could even be a link to something frivolous on your website, but it has to have general appeal. Avoid using self-references in the Tweets that you want retweeted. "I" or "we" does not play well when someone who is not you is being asked to say something in their Twitter feed.
  4. Ask the right way. Saying "Please Retweet" or "Please RT" is better than saying "Retweets are appreciated" or "Retweet this". Be polite but to the point.
  5. Tag it. According to a study by QuickSprout, posts with tags asking for retweets are almost twice as likely to get retweeted. The most popular tag? #Twitter.

In many ways, Twitter's role in business is changing. It's not longer as great at direct marketing as it is at communication with current and future customers and clients. The addition of social signals as a search ranking component has brought it back into the realm of internet marketing, but don't get caught up in the SEO value alone. Twitter still has value in other ways. You just have to be willing to put in the effort to find its value for you.

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