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Why Retweets are more powerful than Tweets


We are learning very quickly that the true power in our Twitter community is not in our tweets. It’s in the ReTweets.

What’s a ReTweet?

If you tweet something interesting or of value to people, they will often repeat your tweet to their followers. This is called a ReTweet.

Alistair Croll just posted this great article about the possibility of creating a sort of Twitter pagerank, using Retweets to measure “downstream” authority. He calls the social analysis of Twitter, communilytics.

Here’s an elegant visual overview:

How to ReTweet

To ReTweet something, simply type RT + [username] + [Message you want to Tweet]. So your ReTweet might look like this:

RT @Twitter_Tips Why ReTweets are more powerful than Tweets

Right now we have about 3500 followers on Twitter. But that’s not where most of the conversation about the NFB is happening. It’s happening one step away. With the Retweets.

For Example

Let’s take a look at this tweet we posted this morning about a classic Leonard Cohen film that we put online:


This message was ReTweeted 18 times by our followers.

@TheNFB tweet went out to 3514 people
@LoupNoir ReTweets it and it goes out to his 164 followers;
@RachelatVenture picks it up and it goes out to her 488 followers.
@BookOven reposts it for 1639 people
And so on…

Add up all the followers that see the post and you get 13617 messages that went out.

Look at the graph at the top of this post to get a picture of what that looks like.

Retweets are Socially Targeted

This sort of message is especially powerful when you consider it’s socially targeted.

People usually only retweet things they’re interested in or they think their followers might be interested in. So as the tweet travels through the twitterverse (for lack of a better word), the message is finding people who are more and more likely to be interested in its content.

What do you think? Are we on to something here?

Also of interest:
Follow the Film Board on Twitter

Check out this great article, The Science of ReTweets.

Add a new comment
  1. Definitely true! I wonder how much more/less effective it is to retweet someone by clicking the retweet button. That was the tweet shows up in your followers’ feeds with the original tweeter’s profile picture/name. If if you have some time, check out my blog – . @orangetie

  2. Interesting, but when you Retreat, does the link work when you just recopy and just post the same link will it work, does the same info show up.??? Links are funny I am not that computer savy.

  3. Very interesting info… The analytical approach to figuring out what to do isn’t sexy but it sure is useful for real life business uses.

    Thanks for the insights!

  4. Please – the average person is lucky if anyone even reads their Tweets.
    If you are following 1000 people and they each Tweet 10 times a day that is 10,000 Tweets you have to read. No one does that.

    And check the average number of people clicking on links in Tweets. It is very few people. I have close to 1,000 followers – if 15-20 click on the link in my Tweet I am lucky.

    — John Jonhson,
  5. So, after reading and reading – how do I retweet?

    — BestManEver,
  6. I agree. Retweets are very powerful. Some people have said they can’t stand people who RT alot, but I RT a few times a day and I think it is a good thing for the person I am RTing…and I am sharing interesting content with my followers, while making sure I give credit where its due. Big fan of Re-tweeting. Great article!!!


  7. How can I see who RTs my tweets if I don’t follow them? Twitter Search? Or is there a better tool?

    — Valyn,
  8. It’s the same concept as StumbleUpon in the way it drives traffic, but the audiences are targeted, making its potential impact far more important and transferable.

    Bob, to do a retweet in the most basic way (which is how I do it), click on the arrow on the right side of the tweet you want to retweet. I copy and paste the message and post it into my text box. There are better ways, but this way works fine as well.


  9. I wish I new how to do a retweet
    also whish I knew what determins the ability to direct message someone

    — bob kiser,
  10. I am showing my age here but as MG above says it’s like the shampoo commercial back in the day (that would be the 70s & 80s) It is funny to me how this is new news. Oh there goes my age showing again. And hey look, it worked again cause I got to this site from a RT.
    Have a powerful day! @vetmomof2

  11. I agree with Magdalena that the message itself must be more interesting than someone contemplating nail polish colour or dinner entrée.
    I believe this type of “I told two friends and so on…” can also be enjoyed through digg and then by watching diggnation on Revision3.
    Let’s just hope that it will only be used for good and not evil.

    — Mer Graham,
  12. But the initial tweet has to be powerful enough to get re-tweeted in the first place. =)


  13. When I was looking at some of the twitter analytics, I was amazed to find that retweets reached about twice the number of people than my follower count on an average.

    I think some messages may do ten times that.

    Retweets are the social aspect of being on Twitter. When you retweet, you are saying several things besides transmitting the news.

    1. Telling your friends that they should take a look at this tweet.
    2. Acknowledging the original Tweeter.
    3. Saying an implicit thank you to the Tweeter for bringing it to your attention.
    4. I wonder whether slightly modified tweets via are counted as retweets as well. If they do then you are presenting a different aspect of the tweeted resource, almost like a mini-comment.

  14. I totally think you’re onto something – thank you for the clear demonstration!

    — magicalcynic,
  15. Think your onto something Matt… Any idea how this translates into site views? And how the ratio of folks who click on a link in the twitter feed compares to the click through rate on blogs? (not sure how measurable this would be)

    — Tim McSorley,

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