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?

Deciding Whether to Include a Twitter Feed on Your Blog

Should you do it? And why?

I got an interesting question on Twitter today from someone who learned how to use Twitter from my Twitter Essential Training course on Lynda.com. He asked:

Do you feel that there is a benefit to having a Twitter feed on a blog?

Twitter FeedI have my Twitter feed on my blog. It’s at the bottom of every page — a place that isn’t “in your face” but is persistent. The solution I use — the WordPress plugin HL Twitter — shows all of my Tweets, including @replies, and can show the tweets for as many accounts as I like. It also offers the option to archive tweets on your blog and tweet new blog posts. I don’t use either of those features, but they’re there. and, of course, there are other solutions that’ll put tweets on your blog or website.

My response was as lengthy as Twitter’s 140 characters allow:

Yes, but it depend on what you tweet about and what your blog is about. Should be similar or compatible. Nice question, BTW!

It is a good question. One that’s worth discussing here.

Why Your Might Put a Twitter Feed on Your Blog

Think about your blog for a moment. What is it like?

Is it a personal blog where you share your thoughts and opinions and personal news? My blog, An Eclectic Mind, is like that.

Or is it a business blog that you created primarily to provide additional information for existing and potential customers or clients? This blog-based site, Maria’s Guides, and the site I maintain for my helicopter charter business, Flying M Air, are like that.

Now think about the things you tweet about. Are those things complementary or compatible with your blog?

Examples

In my personal blog, I write about everything. On my personal Twitter account, I tweet about everything.

In my personal blog, I’m not afraid to voice my strong opinions on politics and religion. In Twitter, I often share links that support my opinions on politics and religion.

In my personal blog, I occasionally use foul language. On my personal Twitter account, I occasionally use foul language.

Obviously, my personal blog and my Twitter stream are a good match.

My Flying M Air site’s “blog” entries normally consist of company news and special offers. Even though Flying M Air is actually me — I am the sole owner/operator of the business — my personal tweets about everything under the sun would simply not be appropriate to display on Flying M Air’s site. Not only that, but my strong views about politics and religion and my occasional off-color language could seriously turn off some potential clients who have conflicting strong views and don’t like to read language like that.

As a result, I wouldn’t dream of listing my tweets on Flying M Air’s site.

As you can see, this isn’t the kind of question you can answer with a simple yes or no. You need to look at it on a case-by-case basis.

The Benefit

Of course, the original question focused on the benefit of including tweets on a blog. Once you decide whether it’s appropriate, you might still want to determine whether there’s a real benefit to doing this.

I think this depends a lot on whether your Twitter stream adds anything to your blog.

I’ll be honest with you — I don’t know if it adds anything to my blog. No one has ever commented on it. I don’t know if it’s gotten more more Twitter followers — which might be a good motive for including it. It certainly helps make me look more active in social networking circles. But is that a good thing? Who knows?

Your blog design has a lot to do with it, too. Do you have room to include a Twitter stream? Will the format you can display it in match the rest of your site. (Aesthetics is important!)

And why do you think it might benefit you? Do your perceived benefits outweigh your perceived drawbacks?

I’m not sure how helpful this is. I guess my point is, you need to think about it and, if you decide to go forward, try to determine how it helps or hurts you.

Remember, it’s always easy to remove if things don’t work out.

Lynda LogoLet me teach you more about Twitter!

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

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 Limit Visibility of Facebook Timeline Items

Now that it’s easy to go back in time to see what you posted on Facebook, are you sure you want everything visible?

Facebook’s new Timeline feature puts every update, photo, event, and detail in your life that you’ve shared on Facebook into a reverse chronologically displayed listing. Here’s what mine looks like today:

Facebook Timeline

At the top of your profile page is a “cover photo” and your profile picture. Beneath that is information about you, your work, and your relationships. After a box containing a few of your friends, you’ll find every single item you’ve ever posted to Facebook.

To make it easier for someone to zero in on a particular date in your past, they can drag a slider on the right side of the page. So if you’ve been posting on Facebook for a few years, people can go back in time to see the Halloween party photo when you dressed up like a hooker or your rant about your old boss or the details about the honeymoon cruise with your ex-husband. Intermingled with this stuff is details about your new jobs, vacations, check ins, and other life events you thought (at the time, anyway) were important enough to share with “friends” — or the public at large — on Facebook.

With your Facebook history so easily accessible — possibly to the general public (which is Facebook’s default setting for updates) — people can get a real idea of what you’re all about now and in the past. If you care at all about what people think of you, you probably want to examine your Timeline and make sure it shows only what you want to show — and only to the people you want to see it.

If you think you’re revealing a bit more than you want to in your Facebook Timeline, there are a few things you can do:

  • Limit AccessTo limit access to a specific post, click the Edit (pencil) icon at the top of it and choose one of the options that appears. Not all options appear for all items, but you can usually hide an item from your timeline or delete it. It’s interesting to note that if you’ve posted many items on Facebook that you regret — think drunk party photos or emotional rants — you’ll have to find and delete them one-by-one. (Have fun with that.)
  • Limit AudienceTo limit access to all of your past posts, go into Facebook Privacy settings and click the “Manage Past Post Visibility” link. Then click the Limit Old Posts button in the dialog that appears to make old posts accessible to Friends only. Doing this prevents random individuals from seeing old posts. Keep in mind that this is not reversible.
  • Limit Post VisibilityTo limit visibility to items as you post them to Facebook, use the pop-up menu at the bottom of the Update box to choose the visibility option you want. Public makes it visible to everyone. Remember, you can also limit visibility based on lists that you create and maintain on your own.
  • Default PrivacyTo set the default visibility setting for new items you post on Facebook — so you don’t need to remember to choose an option for each post — go into Facebook Privacy settings and select one of the Default Privacy options. If you choose Custom, you can specify which list can see the posts and specify people and lists who can’t see the posts. You can override this option for each item as you post it.

Keep in mind that the best way to keep details of your life private is to not share them at all — especially on Facebook.

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.