Posts Tagged ‘RT’

Twitter: Stop Making This #FollowFriday Mistake

May 26, 2010

In my previous blog, I wrote about FollowFriday, some of the reasons why it started, and the many ways that Twitter users can participate in it.

Not gaining as many followers as you thought you would on #FollowFriday? You are probably making this mistake.I am writing this blog because I still see a lot of people doing it WRONG. I did not even find out that people were participating in FollowFriday incorrectly until I went to their profiles and saw the FollowFriday recommendations they tweeted to their followers.

Or tried to. One of the Tweeps whose profile I visited had tweet after tweet of her followers during one FollowFriday. She sent out about 60 unique tweets with 8-11 user names each, and all of them ended with the shorter FollowFriday hashtag, #FF. Who ended up seeing her FollowFriday tweets the moment she posted them? Unfortunately, only she did, as well as the users mentioned in the tweet, IF they are online at the time.

What mistake did she make? In each of her FollowFriday tweets, the beginning of the tweet was a user name of her follower. According to Twitter, “[a]n @reply is any Twitter update that begins with @username.”  Therefore, Twitter treated all of her FollowFriday tweets as a reply for the very first user in each tweet. How about the rest of the users in the tweet? Twitter handles the tweet as a “mention”, which is “any Twitter update that contains @username in the body of the tweet.”

Why is it important to know the difference between replies and mentions? Replies do not show up on the public timeline or home timeline, generally speaking, while mentions do. Let’s look at the following hypothetical tweet.

@tonystevens4, @TweetSmarter, @FlowerBlossoms, @ParachuteGuy, @snopes, @NikiConnor, @ScienceChannel, @FailBlog, @shinng #ff

The tweet begins immediately with the user name, @tonystevens4, so Twitter treats the tweet as a reply and will not show up in the public timeline. However, people can see replies in their home timeline if, and only if, they are following both the sender and recipient of the tweet. How would that look like?

From my home timeline:

tonystevens4 @NikiConnor Good morning, Niki!

NikiConnor @tonystevens4 Good morning, Tony!

Going back to the hypothetical tweet, each of the users in the tweet, including @tonystevens4, would find this tweet in their own mentions feed and nowhere else. We can modify the tweet a few ways in order for it to show up in the home timeline and public timeline. For example, we can add the hashtag, #FollowFriday, in front of the tweet,

#FollowFriday @tonystevens4, @TweetSmarter, @FlowerBlossoms, @ParachuteGuy, @snopes, @NikiConnor, @ScienceChannel, @FailBlog, @shinng #ff

or we can add a period or forward slash:

.@tonystevens4, @TweetSmarter, @FlowerBlossoms, @ParachuteGuy, @snopes, @NikiConnor, @ScienceChannel, @FailBlog, @shinng #ff

/@tonystevens4, @TweetSmarter, @FlowerBlossoms, @ParachuteGuy, @snopes, @NikiConnor, @ScienceChannel, @FailBlog, @shinng #ff

What does this show? The mechanism for replies is very specific, but making a tweet appear in the home and public timelines is variable and not standardized. Indeed, as long as the beginning of the tweet does not begin with @username, the tweet will appear in the home and public timelines.

What, then, can the Tweep with the 60 unique, yet exclusive, FollowFriday tweets do in the future? As long as she does not start any of her FollowFriday tweets with @username, her recommendations will appear in her home timeline and the public timeline. If you have tens of thousands of followers, you do not want to make this FollowFriday mistake.

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Francis M. Unson

Twitter: How do you do #FollowFriday?

May 24, 2010

Every Friday on Twitter, have you noticed a flood of tweets from your followers that contain the user names of their followers as well as the hashtag, #FollowFriday or #FF, on your timeline?  If you do a search on Twitter for either hashtag, you will undoubtedly find other people doing the same thing.

FollowFriday began on January 16, 2009 by Micah Baldwin (@micah).  While trending topics come and go due to world events, FollowFriday has become a weekly trending topic ever since, embraced by Tweeps worldwide.  Why do people engage in FollowFriday?  People may come up with many reasons for why they engage in FollowFriday, but the most common reason involves promoting their own followers to others.  After all, no two people have exactly the same set of people they are following.  People spend the weekend, as well as Monday, adding FollowFriday recommendations.

Do you participate in the weekly trending top, #FollowFriday?  When you're on Twitter on a Friday, you're going to see many tweets with the #FollowFriday and #FF hashtags in them.  How can you participate in #FollowFriday more efficiently?Like retweeting, there is no right or wrong way to participate in FollowFriday.  Many people place a #FF or #FollowFriday hashtag before or after their recommendations.  The people listed tend to retweet the FollowFriday tweet they are in, effectively taking part in FollowFriday, too.  Some people do not leave the hashtags to chance and add “Please follow” just before the list of usernames.  Tweeps such as Daniel (@DanielStoicaTax) go the extra mile and include information from the bio of the person they are recommending in their tweet.

Some people in social media have raised concerns about the value of FollowFriday and why its initial popularity and seeming die off soon after makes the trending topic more of a fad instead of a trend.  One of the concerns I agree with deals with “Noise vs. Value”.  From Monday to Thursday, I can rely on the users I am following to tweet about or retweet new content.  On Friday, however, tweets marked with #FollowFriday or #FF take over my timeline.  I try my best to add new followers, but when you follow thousands, your followers recommend just as many.

How can we combat the “noise” of FollowFriday and increase the value added to our time spent on Twitter?  We have a few options.


TwitLonger allows us to send tweets that exceed 140 characters.  I have not tested just how many characters a tweet through the website can accommodate, but they have come through for me in the past when my own tweets went over the character limit.  TwitLonger works likes this:

  • It accommodates as much of the original tweet as possible.
  • When the tweet is too long, it truncates enough characters at the end so that it can append the following: (cont)…
  • The shortcut link provided takes you to the TwitLonger website where you can view the entire tweet.

You can effectively take care of your FollowFriday recommendations in a single tweet by using TwitLonger instead of sending out 10 or 20 tweets, or more, the normal way.  However, only the first few people at the beginning of the large tweet would be seen in the original tweet.  People have a tendency of replying only to tweets that mention their user name.  Twitter clients such as HootSuite and TweetDeck do not expand FollowFriday tweets from TwitLonger links.  The most intrepid of Tweeps who do add more followers from a TwitLonger link would find it surprisingly convenient.


If I can hazard a guess from their blog entries on their website, TweepML was probably the best way to manage groups of Tweeps before Twitter introduced Twitter Lists a few months later.  Nonetheless, adding a list of followers on TweepML saves the tedium of adding followers, one at a time, especially if you add them through the Twitter website.  TweepML works like this:

  • You find a list of Tweeps you would like to add.  Remove any users you choose not to add before signing in.
  • Sign into the website using OAuth.  You will briefly go to the Twitter website.
  • On the screen asking if you allow TweepML access, click on “Yes”.
  • You will return to TweepML and the website will start adding people from the list immediately.

A warning: Twitter has a number of rate limits in place.  We can get flagged for sending out too many tweets or attempting to follow a large number of users in a short period of time.  There is a good chance you will not be able to follow a list of 500 Tweeps in one instance.  If this happens to you, keep track of the last user on the list that you were able to follow.  A few hours later, continue where you left off, making sure to uncheck the names of the Tweeps at the top of the list that you have already started following earlier.

On the other hand, if you have used TweepML to create user lists, the website will provide you with a link to the list, and you can share that link on Twitter.

Twitter Lists

You can send tweets about Twitter Lists and reference them directly.  For example, in the following tweet, I share three lists and each contains a number of users.  You can create a list with up to 500 users each.  Many Tweeps create a list of “highly recommended” users for FollowFriday and update the list weekly.  It is worth noting that people can follow Twitter Lists but not follow the users that make up the list.

Finally, however way you choose to participate in FollowFriday, you maybe pleasantly surprised to see which of your followers have decided to recommend you.  If you find yourself in somebody’s FollowFriday tweet, don’t forget to send a “Thank you” or “Gratitude” tweet.  After all, they took the time to recommend you for FollowFriday, and you have many options for how you can recommend them back.

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Francis M. Unson

Retweeting: A Matter of Style

March 29, 2010

I have retweeted (RT) many worthy tweets, and what I considered worthy varied greatly: literary and humorous quotes; news articles; #FollowFriday recommendations; Twitter Tips; “Top” lists of various sizes (usually 10); and Twitter Tips, among many others. Given the nature of Twitter “standards”, which are set in sand at high tide rather than stone, I have concluded that there is no right or wrong way to retweet.

Twitter: Is there a right or wrong way to retweet a tweet?  Twitter applications such as HootSuite and Seesmic have RT functions based on how people retweet.  How do YOU retweet?  It's up to you.As an example, I will take a tweet from @TweetSmarter and show you the number of ways I would find myself retweeting it. If you want to read the original tweet, click here.

How to Surf the Web…Anonymously:

If I retweeted that through my web browser or my cell phone, it would look like this:

RT @TweetSmarter How to Surf the Web…Anonymously:

I would type out the entire tweet and, as a result, forget the colon (:) after @TweetSmarter. Using the retweet function in HootSuite or Seesmic, where the colon is duly added, the retweet would look like this:

RT @TweetSmarter: How to Surf the Web…Anonymously:

Some Tweeps are very conscious of making sure that the original headline remains in front of the tweet. Therefore, the retweet would look like this:

How to Surf the Web…Anonymously: RT @TweetSmarter

The tweet, as of this writing, has been retweeted nine times (albeit through Twitter’s Retweet link on its web interface). When many people retweet a tweet many times over, it looks something like this:

How to Surf the Web…Anonymously: RT @TweetSmarter @SarahJL @QuantumGood @TwitterHelper

I have read the ongoing debate about the usefulness of “via“. I have seen via used a number of ways. One of my followers, it seems, refuses to use RT at all, so their retweets would look something like this:

How to Surf the Web…Anonymously: /via @TweetSmarter

Other users use RT for unique tweets, as shown earlier, and “via” when retweeting a popular tweet. Their retweets would look this this:

How to Surf the Web…Anonymously: /via @TweetSmarter @SarahJL @QuantumGood @TwitterHelper

I consider using “via” in the event that I come across a tweet that has been retweeted multiple times, as well. However, I would still use RT for the user from whom I received the tweet directly. Therefore, my retweet would look like this:

How to Surf the Web…Anonymously: RT @TweetSmarter /via @SarahJL @QuantumGood @TwitterHelper

Ironically, my first encounter with Twitter was at Barnes and Noble, the brick-and-mortar bookstore, where I read all about it. One of the books described the use of “via” as a way of dealing with a multi-generation retweet as shown above. However, “via” can also be used to cite offline sources such as out-of-print books, non-digitized resources, and people who are not on Twitter. The following examples are hyperbolic in nature, but please bear with me:

The debate of the best way to retweet will go on, but what matters most is that you find a retweet style with which you are most comfortable.


Since the time of this writing, a few more ways to retweet have emerged.  For example, when you place the cursor over a tweet, you will see the following options at the upper right corner:

Is there a right or wrong way to retweet a tweet?  Twitter applications such as HootSuite and Seesmic have RT functions based on how people retweet.  How do YOU retweet?  It's up to you.

When you click on the Retweet link, you will get a confirmation window asking if you would like to retweet to your followers.  When you click on the Retweet button, the tweet on that user’s personal and public timeline will look like this.  Notice the green arrow at the upper right corner and that the blue Retweet link has changed to a green Retweeted link:

Is there a right or wrong way to retweet a tweet?  Twitter applications such as HootSuite and Seesmic have RT functions based on how people retweet.  How do YOU retweet?  It's up to you.

For years, the design and usage of Twitter was shaped by we, the users, but over time, Twitter decided to make it easier for newer users to retweet a user’s tweet.  While I certainly use the built-in retweet function as a matter of convenience, I still prefer using the older methods outlined earlier in this blog since it allows me to share retweet credit, especially of a tweet that was popular or highly retweeted.

Speaking of older forms of retweeting, I have seen a twist these types of RTs, typically from mobile phone Twitter clients:

@TweetSmarter Why Is Pinterest So Addictive? [INFOGRAPHIC]

RT @TweetSmarter Why Is Pinterest So Addictive? [INFOGRAPHIC]

“RT @TweetSmarter: Why Is Pinterest So Addictive? [INFOGRAPHIC]

In the first example, the Twitter client has encapsulated @TweetSmarter and the original tweet in “smart quotes”; the second tweet encapsulates the RT at the very beginning, sans colon (:); and the third tweet includes the (:) after the username.  I can see how the use of quotation marks help make very explicit the contents of the original tweet, especially if a tweet is cited in an academic paper.  Furthermore, any comments, remarks, or replies would be made outside the quoted tweet.  I highly recommend this form of retweeting as it mimics printed language.

The final method of retweeting that I have come across is a retweet of sorts.  While I have not used it very much, it has been around for some time.  It is called the “modified tweet”, or MT for short.  I have seen tweets labeled as such and it typically happens when a tweet is almost 140 characters in length but the addition of, say, RT @username, causes the tweet to exceed the limit.  Should a person endeavor to make the tweet shorter with shortcuts (e.g. change “late” to “l8”, “to” or “too” to “2”, etc), the resulting retweet is, character for character, not the same tweet anymore although, when read, it is the same as the original tweet in content, context, and meaning.  Let’s take a look at the following tweet (this is the original):

Interesting to hear how @WSJ taps into different demographics by leveraging platforms such as #pinterest #instagram & #YouTube #bdi1

The original tweet had eight characters to spare. When I tried to retweet it:

RT @socialmedia2day: Interesting to hear how @WSJ taps into different demographics by leveraging platforms such as #pinterest #instagram & #YouTube #bdi1

I went over by 13 characters.  I went to the website, 140it, which “makes your tweet less than 140 characters” but, unfortunately, it managed to shrink the tweet by just two characters:

MT @socialmedia2day: Interesting 2 hear how @WSJ taps in2 different demographics by leveraging platforms such as #pinterest #instagram & #YouTube #bdi1S

It is worth mentioning that any tweet you shrink down, manually or by a website, will turn any tweet into a modified tweet, and the previous example would count as an MT.  Despite using the website, however, the MT was still 151 characters in length.  In order to create a 140-character MT, this is what I did, without mercy:

MT @socialmedia2day: Intrstng 2 hear hw @WSJ taps in2 dffrnt dmografx by leveraging platforms such as #Pinterest #Instagram & #YouTube #bdi1

I believe I have seen a line drawn in the sand regarding how to retweet.  Users who have been on Twitter for a few years such as myself tend to retweet with the methods I outlined when I first published this blog in 2010, while newer users tend to use the built-in Retweet link.  However method you choose to retweet other users’ tweets, what you’re trying to achieve when you retweet is engaging that user, talking to and following them.  If they thank you for retweeting, reply in kind, because sooner or later, another user will retweet something you post, and thanking them for doing so will create a new chance to meet and engage new people.

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Francis M. Unson

140it: For the Tweet that is still too short for a blog

January 12, 2010

Please retweetTwitter’s arrival on the social networking scene has forced us to reconsider how we communicate, namely, how succinctly we can get our message across.  Sometimes, however, as much as we try to shrink a message down to under 140 characters, we still end up over the character limit.

The website, 140it, has come to the rescue.  You type your message in the text box, click on the “140 It!” button and, as much as possible, slimmer message of 140 characters or less emerges.  The application removes articles such as “a” and “the”, and swaps shortcuts such as “gr8” for “great”, among other methods.  If you Tweet often and find yourself spending extra time shrinking down your message, bookmark 140it or add its Bookmarklet to your browser.

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Francis M. Unson