In life on Twitter, it’s virtually impossible to move far into one’s career without being asked to retweet (RT) something. Almost every single one of us have asked for and have been asked to RT for a fellow marketer, friend, or simply a follower. But as time passes, more and more influence formulas are tied to RTs as a metric. This impacts the value of receiving RTs, both positively and negatively.
There seems to be people who will ask for a RT on just about anything they do. Given the lack of capital that is involved in kicking out a RT these days, does it mean anything? If many fans blindly RT as sign of support for their favorite voices, how seriously should we consider RTs? And what are the ethics involved in asking for retweets given the influence metrics?
Well, there’s no real ethics involved at all, unless you are getting paid to RT. In that case disclosure needs to happen. Still, one school of thought believes it’s OK to ask as much as you’d like, and another believes RTs should be primarily earned unless there’s a special nonprofit or personal initiative involved.
If asking for RTs is necessary to get an initiative going, is it because the content or news isn’t good enough to take off on its own? If strength of community exists before anything starts, simply publishing that information and providing it to stakeholders in communities of interest should be enough. This is the ideal. Consider this: If the initiative isn’t good enough then why send it out to the network for help? Is it right to cheapen the pipes with a concept that a core community isn’t interested in?
Others may argue that’s nice in an ideal world, but what if someone’s network isn’t strong enough to get the content out there? Strength of community doesn’t exist, thus requiring pitching. It seems like a fair analogy, a lower stakes game of pitching to influencers for play. Fair enough, but if one has to rely on influencers every single time they have a great blog post, a worthy business announcement, a good cause…
It might be worthwhile to invest in the hard day to day grind of building relationships within your community of interest. This is the core purpose of social media anyway; to develop meaningful relationships that benefit all parties. Lest you turn into the neighbor who comes over to borrow an egg or a rake every single day.
Ultimately, earned RTs — where people are so compelled by the subject matter — should be the goal. This is the act that matters, a sign of worthy content. The rest is saving face, compensation for weak community, a bit cheap, and a notch for an influence score or client report. Unfortunately, the general trend drags down the whole value of a RT in the stream.
Conversely, Twitter members retweeting others need to decide what’s right or wrong for them. If being known for reliable good information matters, so does a discerning eye.