The Art of Retweeting: How, When, & Why

In last week’s blog, I highlighted ways to use Twitter to effectively network at events.

After sharing that piece with the Twitterverse, I received a warm response from Carol Willing (whom I first interacted with via Twitter at Write/Speak/Code), asking specific questions about retweeting. Thanks for the call to action, Carol! I hope you enjoy these tips for retweeting.

The Native Retweet 

Native Retweet Button For Twitter

Font Awesome by Dave Gandy


This is the instant RT, which many people utilize frequently. Simply select this button, which is located under every tweet, and allow Twitter to do the work for you.

You may choose this method because:

  • You respect the author of this valuable statement and agree entirely
  • This person is an influencer, and their tweet carries more weight than something you could write on this topic
  • You feel the information provided should reach an audience of magnitude
  • The original tweet pertains to you or relates to your industry

If you’d like to add your own comment, you can write “RT” before the original content, to identify it as a retweet, and add something unique, like – “Great article!” This will encourage the author whose tweet you shared to engage with you and further show your endorsement of the tweet.

Be careful with characters here – try to stay ≤ 120, as someone may want to RT your RT. Any more characters, and your tweet may be cut off. Shorter tweets are shared more often.

Choosing Your Audience 

Twitter assumes tweets that begin with “@” are intended just for you and the person at whom you tweet, and the people who happen to follow you both. To maximize audience, many people place “.” before the “@” to ensure that their followers see the communication in their own feed. The “.” seems to solve the issue of limited visibility while only using one character of the precious 120 characters you should use.

If you’re attempting to engage with someone via tweet in a respectful dialogue, take care to put some thought into a kind greeting instead of a lazy “.” Far too often, people interact on social media in ways that are not acceptable in real life, and depending on the “.” to include your followers on what could otherwise be a private conversation is not best practice, depending on your goals and brand.

When I first saw the placement of “.” in front of someone’s handle referred to as a “dickdot,” it made immediate sense! It’s a bit rude in practice, as any character preceding one’s Twitter name works just as well. A simple salutation will do, and though it might take up a few more characters, it’s far more polite for the recipient, and mirrors how we speak in the real world.

One of my favorite people to follow is Jake Boxer. I’m thrilled to share this tweet, which made me laugh for days, and coined a now often-used phrase:

There are some situations that warrant the dot, and J.K. Rowling’s use of it is a prime example. She doesn’t need to have friendly conversation with someone who passive aggressively insults her. Her response successfully asserts her position and, instead of limiting her response to that extremely narrow pool of people who follow both of them (he has less than 300, while she has 4,000,000 plus), she adjusts her tweet so that all of her followers can be privy to the exchange.

(To be clear, I think she’s entirely justified in responding this way, and it is not “dick” at all, but on par with the tone previously used to address her.)

Modified Tweets

Let’s say there’s a tweet you want to shout from the mountains! Unfortunately, its author is maxing out on characters and pushing the 120 best practice limit. There might be some unnecessary prepositions or a repeated word. Or, you want to grab someone’s attention with this awesome tweet by mentioning them, maybe add an appropriate hashtag.

There’s good news!

Write “MT” before the tweet so that readers know you’ve modified it. This way, you’re still providing the credibility to an influencer or expert, keeping the bulk of the message in tact, and making it best suit your purposes and intent.

The Advanced Tweet

You know what you’re doing and this isn’t your first twitter-thon. There’s a breaking news article, which was tweeted out from a very trustworthy source. You can write your own message, give the author of the article acknowledgement, AND give credit to your original Twitter source.

Here’s an example from my own timeline:

There you have it!

These are some tips to effectively retweet.

Did you find this helpful? Is there another form of retweeting you prefer?

Let me know & happy tweeting!

Philadelphia's Angie Hilem

Live Tweet At Events: Make Friends & Influence People

Yesterday, a fellow attendee of Write/Speak/Code asked me about using Twitter.

“Is it okay to follow people whom I’ve never met before? What if they have a lot more followers than me?”

I responded with a vehement, “It doesn’t matter! That’s the beauty of it. Twitter is a public space. Everyone invites conversation when they tweet, otherwise, their accounts would be private.”

She’s shy and finds it difficult to approach people. This guide is for her, all the introverts in the tech scene, and the extroverts who have no problem initiating conversation, but can better nourish their new connections.

Research Before the Event

Check your confirmation email – Is there a hashtag or Twitter account sent out by the organizers? I bet there is! Follow them.

Upon signing up, Tweet to the world that you’re attending! By doing this, you’re advocating for the event, expressing something that interests you, and possibly aligning with others who are going. You never know, you might influence someone in your network to go.

How to Customize Your Name Tag

The organizers of Write/Speak/Code know what’s up – they asked participants to add their Twitter handles upon registering, so it was printed on our nifty lanyards when we arrived.

Last week, I went to one of my favorite tech meetups (Philly New Tech Meetup) and was given the standard blank name tag, on which I always write @AngieHilem. Why not encourage others to contact you during the event? (This is extra helpful in case you run out of business cards.)

Announce Your Presence

Once you’ve properly labeled yourself, let the world know you’re there. Use this statement as a template:

Excited to be @thislocation to see @speaker & meet other #WomenInTech tonight!

That sentence is only 78 characters out of the allotted 140. A best practice for composing tweets is to write no more than 120 characters. That 20 character or more buffer comes in handy when others retweet you, ensuring that your entire tweet is shared. Additionally, shorter tweets are more likely to be read and shared.

Capture The Audience or A Captivating Slide

Visual tweets get significantly more retweets. It also adds a personal element and triggers a psychological bond with others in the audience, as they are seeing the same thing as you.

On the first day of the conference, I took a picture of Rebecca’s slide and I’m still getting RT’d!

Engage With Influencers

Give credit to speakers, whose profiles are typically very easy to find with the previously described event information.

  •  Quote something that really resonates with you. “Mention” them and use that hashtag!
  • Thank them for sharing their story or expertise if, unlike me, you aren’t glued to the phone or prefer to pay attention in a way that does not permit real time quoting.

It takes a lot of effort to address an audience. Thanking a speaker immediately is a kind gesture for someone who just put themselves in front of a group of people – which can be scary! You’re also sharing valuable information with others who might not have arrived yet or just couldn’t make it.

  • Your tweet is now a talking point!
  • Others in attendance might seek you out at the end of the event and strike up conversation. (Yay! Introverts, that means you don’t have to agonize over making the first move. You already did – and from your seat, no less!)
  • An RT might lead to networking after the event. You will be surprised how much this can grow your network and how often you will run into the same people at future events.
  • Conversing with a presenter, who is most likely an influencer, will increase your voice and reach by engaging their followers.

It’s Your Turn

These are best practices which I’ve developed and utilize at meetups, conferences, and when I run into people who are special to me.

Try these out next time you’re mingling and let me know if they worked for you!

This post is dedicated to Nasima, Rebecca, Corey, and all of the supportive women with whom I grew exponentially over the past 3 days. Thank you for the empowering, life-changing experience.