Twitter Fundamentals: Two Ways to Retweet

Which do you prefer?

Get more from your software.I spent most of this past week writing a new script for my Twitter Essential Training course on Lynda.com. We update the course about once a year to account for changes in the Twitter.com interface, as well as new features. This will be the fourth edition of the course.

Yesterday, I wrote about retweeting. I faced a minor dilemma: Do I cover both ways to retweet — with the Retweet button and with the old-style RT shorthand? Or do I just cover the Retweet button, which I personally prefer?

Understand that retweeting is something that developed on its own long ago. A Twitter user would see a tweet he wanted to share. He’d copy and paste the tweet into a new tweet, including the characters RT to indicate that it was a retweet and an @mention of the person who he was retweeting. Because this added characters to the original tweet, editing was often necessary. Each time it was retweeted, more editing occurred. Sometimes editing completely removed the @mention of the originator of the tweet, thus removing credit for the tweet.

Then, a few years ago, the folks at Twitter created an “official” Retweet feature. They added a button available for each tweet that copied the entire tweet and placed it in the retweeter’s timeline with the source tweeter’s name and profile picture still attached. This made it very clear who was the source of the original tweet. It also prevented tweets from being edited into nonsense by forced abbreviations. It made it possible to keep track of who was retweeting good content. And it prevented the same tweet from appearing multiple times in the timelines of groups of people who follow each other.

In my mind, it was a win-win.

So I decided not to include instructions for the old-style retweeting in my revised course. I mentioned it, of course, and showed an example, but I didn’t show how to do it.

Fast forward to this morning. I check my Twitter stream and discover a perfect example of how a tweet can be degraded by multiple old-style retweets.

Here’s my original tweet:

(And yes, that first word is a typo. It should have been “Ah.” Damn you, autocorrect!)

Note that there’s one (at least right now) official retweet. (You can see this if you click the date in the tweet embedded above to view it on Twitter.com.) That means that one person has used the Retweet button to copy my tweet to his timeline. On his Twitter profile page, it looks like this:

A Retweet

Note that although my profile picture and name are attached to the tweet, his name appears at the bottom as the retweeter.

Now look at two old-style retweets. The first is from someone who follows me:

The second is from someone who follows her:

In order to keep her account and my account in the tweet, he had to edit the hell out of it, to the point where the second “RT” is just “R” and the bulk of the post title is removed. Huh?

Do you think this is right? Effective? Acceptable?

Why couldn’t either one of them simply use the Retweet button?

Most people who don’t like the Retweet button complain that it prevents them from including a comment with the retweet. But do you think an emoticon smiley face is a comment? The original tweet says it’s “too funny.” Does a smiley face add anything to it?

And what of the second retweet? There’s no comment added there at all. In fact, the first retweeter’s comment is removed.

So why?

Is it because they wanted their account names attached to the tweet? That’s the only reason I see.

And I’m left wondering if anyone else retweeted it but removed my account name because it didn’t fit.

The truth of the matter is, the Retweet button isn’t only a better way to retweet. It’s also an easier way. One or two clicks and it’s done. No copy and paste, no editing required. The tweet is shared in its entirety, the originator is given credit, the retweeter’s name is still clearly indicated.

What do you think? Which method do you use and why?

More Twitter Users Wanted

Need active Twitter users for upcoming Twitter course.

Twitter logoI’m getting ready to revise my Twitter course for Lynda.com and, as usual, am looking for about 20 active Twitter user accounts to follow while recording the course. These accounts will be included in the timelines displayed onscreen.

If you don’t mind your Twitter account appearing in the course — or perhaps you’d really like it to appear in the course — take a moment and drop me an e-mail message. I’ll send you the release form we need signed and returned to be a part of this project.

Keep in mind that volunteering to show your tweets does not guarantee they will be shown. Because of the nature of the course material, we need to avoid displaying Tweets that are “R-rated” (or worse), including Tweets with foul language, tweets with offensive humor, or Tweets that include inappropriate images or themes. In addition, we’re really not too interested in including Twitter accounts that are spammy, so if all of your tweets are written to promote your own products or services, we probably won’t want to include your account. I hope you understand.

If you’ve volunteered before and would like to do it again, just let me know. I should still have your paperwork on file.

Learn More on Lynda.com

Get more from your software.Want to Learn More about Using Twitter? Learn online at Lynda.com. My Twitter course includes more than three hours of video training material that’ll help you get more out of Twitter. Check it out. If you’re not a Lynda.com subscriber, be sure to visit to try some of the free videos. I think you’ll be hooked.

How to Embed a Tweet in a Blog Post or Website

Finding and using a new feature on Twitter.com.

Twitter’s getting a facelift. In fact, as I write this, I’m one of a limited number of early adopters who have sped the arrival of the new version by installing and using the iPhone (in my case) or Android app.

The new Twitter is a dramatic change in the interface — one I plan to review in a video for Lynda.com soon. In the meantime, I’m picking out a few new features to explore in detail here in Maria’s Guides.

In this post, I’ll explore the new ability to embed a tweet — like the one shown here — within a blog post or web page.

  1. On Twitter.com, point to the tweet you want to embed and then click the Open link that appears to open it. (You could also simply double-click the tweet.)
    Open the Tweet
  2. Click the Details link to display the tweet in its own window.
    Click the Details Link
  3. Click the Embed this Tweet link.
    Click Embed this Tweet
  4. The Embed this Tweet pop-up window appears. It has three tabs:
    • HTML enables you to embed the tweet in a blog post or website using HTML. You select the alignment option you want by clicking a button and then copy and paste the code at the top of the tab. In this example, I’ve clicked Right because I want the tweet right aligned (as you see above).
      HTML Embed Code
    • Shortcode enables you to embed the tweet in a blog post on a blogging platform that supports short codes, such as WordPress. Again, set the alignment option you want by clicking a button and then copy and past the code at the top of the tab.
      Shortcode
    • Link displays a direct link to the tweet that you can copy and paste anywhere you like: email message, Facebook, Google+, comment form, or HTML editor to create your own link manually.
      Link

    In this example, I simply pasted the code in the HTML tab into the beginning of this blog post, which I wrote in HTML (I’m a bit old-fashioned that way). If you use WordPress and prefer Rich Text mode, you can do the same thing with the shortcode.

That’s all there is to it.

What’s handy about this is that not only does it display the tweet in its entirety with the tweeter’s profile picture and name, but it has live links to follow that person on Twitter, Reply, Retweet, and Favorite. Cool, no?

Let me teach you more about Twitter!

Get more from your software.You can watch seven videos from my Twitter Essential Training course for free. Click here to get started.

Seven Tips for Interacting with Companies on Twitter

Your attitude and approach will set the stage for a good relationship with the companies you deal with.

Get more from your software.One of the videos in my Twitter Essential Training course on Lynda.com includes a discussion on how you can get customer support from companies that maintain Twitter accounts. In it, I include several real-life examples of how I got quicker results from companies through their Twitter accounts than through normal customer service channels. Since recording that course, I’ve had at least a dozen other similar experiences.

If you want to use Twitter to get support for products and services you buy, you need to have the right attitude and approach. With that in mind, here are seven tips for interacting with companies on Twitter:

  1. Tip: You can use Twitter’s search feature, which is covered in Chapter 7 of the current version of my course, to find Twitter accounts for companies or specific products. Hashtags are covered in the course, too.

    When tweeting about a product or company, include its Twitter account name or hashtag in the tweet. This makes it easy for the company to easily find your mention.

  2. Refrain from using foul language when sharing negative comments about a product or company. Many people are turned off by bad language. Your comment will have more impact — and a greater potential for retweeting — if it’s stated in work-safe terms.
  3. When complaining about a product or company, be specific. Saying “Company ABC sucks” isn’t nearly as helpful to the company’s support team or fellow Twitter users as “Company ABC takes too long to process orders” or “Company ABC’s website is difficult to navigate.”
  4. If you have a question about a product or service, use an @mention to direct it to the company’s Twitter account. Ask the question in a single tweet, being as specific as possible. For example, “@CompanyABC Does #ProductA have a warranty?” or “@CompanyABC The manual for #ProductB doesn’t explain how to use it with my iPad.” If the company is properly monitoring its Twitter account, you may get an answer within minutes.
  5. Don’t hesitate to praise a product or company you like. Last night, for example, I had an extra-good shopping experience and tweeted: “Just wanted to say that we got EXCELLENT service at the PHX Camelback @BedBathBeyond store. Advised on a sheet purchase by an expert!” If everything you tweet is a complaint, you’ll look like a whiner that’s never happy. Support staff could hesitate to help you if they feel you can’t ever be pleased.
  6. If a company you complained about satisfactorily fixed a problem you had, tweet a follow-up to let your Twitter followers know they made things right. Many companies really do try hard; don’t they deserve praise when they resolve a problem?
  7. Don’t lie about an experience. Good or bad — people may rely on what you say to make purchase decisions. Do you really want to mislead your Twitter followers?

Of course, if you’re in charge of monitoring a company’s Twitter account, its up to you to respond quickly and promptly to any Tweets that mention your Twitter account or products. I cover that in my Lynda.com course, too.

Let me teach you more about Twitter!

You can watch seven videos from my Twitter Essential Training course for free. Click here to get started.

Twitter Essential Training, 2011 Edition

2011 revision goes live.

Get more from your software.I’m very pleased to announce that my latest Lynda.com course, a revision of my 2009 and 2010 Twitter courses, is now online. Here’s the official description from the good folks at Lynda.com:

In Twitter Essential Training, author Maria Langer explains how to use Twitter, a social network for sharing short bites of information instantly with others. This course covers how to sign up for a Twitter account, send and read Twitter updates (called tweets), and build a network of followers. The training also describes how to get the most out of Twitter by customizing an individual profile, setting privacy options, following trending topics, and tapping into third-party resources that make it easier to follow and send updates.

Topics include:

  • Uploading a profile picture to an account
  • Setting account options to meet specific needs
  • Using lists
  • Sharing photos and Web content with friends
  • Adding Twitter feeds to web sites
  • Searching for people and tweets
  • Following and blocking users
  • Tweeting by SMS
  • Establishing a business presence
  • Understanding Twitter interface changes