Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Re-tweets: Bigger Is Better—Three Ways to Get Re-Tweeted by Tweeters Who Matter Most

Yes, it's true, and for anyone who makes due with small re-tweets, I hate to be the bearer of bad news: If you haven't got a big re-tweet, any re-tweet will do, but bigger is better, and Twitter users everywhere ought to be vying for that big re-tweet. Why? A big re-tweet brings with it big visibility, and big visibility brings with it success on Twitter—but only when developed and cultivated in a methodical way. In other words, you need to know how to use that big re-tweet, or it'll do little for you. The consolation is this: That big re-tweet is anything but complicated to get. Just provide the valuable information (whether it be your own or someone else's) and sprinkle it with wisdom. Oh, and make sure you're in the right place at the right time.

Last week, yours truly lived a mini case study in what the big re-tweet is like. About a month ago, I joined the Twitter list of SmartBrief on Social Media, an aggregator of information pertaining to search and social media. SmartBrief distributes its e-mail newsletter daily to thousands. Earlier that day, I had seen an article at MediaPost Blogs that asked whether or not B2B companies ought to embrace social media in 2010. I thought this would be useful for my followers to see, so I tweeted a link to the article and tied the notion to the trade show industry.

Here's the original tweet:

brentskinner "Will B2B Companies Embrace Social Media in 2010?" Well, trade show producers should. #mtosummit

Notice that my tweet happened to include the MTO Summit's Twitter hashtag. It did so because I wanted my fellow attendees at MTO Summit to read the linked article. My hope was that as many of them would agree: Yes, the trade show industry indeed ought to embrace social media in 2010. It's a reasonable statement highly relevant to their industry—the stuff of excellent tweets, actually.

Well, imagine my surprise (and elation) when SmartBrief on Social Media noticed my tweet and not only re-tweeted me, but also featured me as the day's "Big Re-Tweet" in its afternoon e-mail distribution. Here's the publication's re-tweet of me, as it appeared on Twitter itself:

sbosm @brentskinner is the man of the hour -- and the #ireadsbosm big retweet of the day!

And here's the blurb that appeared in the e-mail newsletter:

RT @brentskinner "Will B2B Companies Embrace Social Media in 2010?" Well, trade show producers should.

…which is the language of the publication's actual re-tweet, interestingly.

Thousands probably saw the re-tweet and the word of it in the e-mail newsletter, and in a methodical way I went about making the big re-tweet work for me—following the advice I shared with you a few paragraphs ago.

First, by encouraging a handful of my closest, most trusted and best-connected followers to re-tweet the re-tweet, I effectively chased what I like to call the long tail of social media chatter. Would I have liked to do more? Sure, but I worked with the bandwidth I had that day. Additionally, I forwarded the e-mail to as many of my hottest prospects as I could think of, and in many cases, doing so reignited exciting conversations regarding deals. By at once playing the role of information curator and wisdom-sharer with one tweet that day, I capitalized on the big re-tweet in order to take a critical step in establishing myself as a thought leader in my field and as a curator of especially useful information in the Twitterverse itself.

Much of this might seem boastful, but in no way am I special. I simply worked the online ecosystem, and so can you. In fact, following are three simple tactics anyone with good ideas and tenacity can employ to get that big re-tweet that'll go a long way in getting them big results on Twitter:

1) Use hashtags liberally: Capitalize on hashtags to get your ideas in front of the Twitter users following the subject matter related to your expertise. Share your wisdom with these ad hoc communities, which display great fluidity. Some, such as #publicrelations, have great staying power; others, such as those forming around a trade show or networking event (e.g,, #mtosummit), can form quickly and organically, swell, and then, eventually, dwindle. Either kind is of great value—you never know when a key influencer will give you the big re-tweet.

2) Join lists: Created by influential thought leaders or by publications, lists automatically place your tweets on the radar of the list's creator and everyone on it. Once you tweet something perceived by that community as being of note, you may draw the big re-tweet. Several weeks ago, for instance, I joined SmartBrief on Social Media's list by following the publication's instructions to do so—i.e., by including the hashtag of #ireadsbosm in a tweet. This alerted the publication to my desire to be added to its list's roster, and being on that radar placed all my tweets on this influential publication's radar—hence, that big re-tweet.

3) Re-tweet notable tweeters: It may seem unseemly, but it isn't if you do it tactfully and mean it. Just refrain from re-tweeting others will-nilly and be sure to include your own nugget of wisdom, thus adding to the quality of the conversation. The powerful re-tweeted person's followers may very well notice your tweet, re-tweet it, and even follow you. And if that person's followers comprise your target market, you've gotten that much closer to new business.