This post is intended for people who are either new to Twitter, or who have been Tweeting for awhile and would like to get more out of Twitter by understanding one of the most common Twitter use cases, the ReTweet. 

ReTweet (or, RT): as a verb, to ReTweet is to re-post something posted by another user, usually preceded with “RT” and “@username” to give credit to an original poster.

(Quick aside: ReTweet was one of the words that the Oxford English Dictionary made a big deal about adding this year from social media.  The word “Unfriend,” however, beat it out for the new word of the year.)

What’s the point of ReTweeting?  ReTweeting showcases the powerful viral nature of Twitter, because as people ReTweet interesting posts, good ideas have more opportunities to reach more of Twitter’s 40 million-plus users.  Also, from an individual point of view, if a user is commonly ReTweeted, it shows that his/her Twitter followers are truly reading their posts, and this is valuable information since there are some effective ways for people to “inflate” their Twitter following, and to create a misleading impression of their actual influence.  It seems nearly impossible, however, to fake the number of ReTweets you have.

How to do you increase the frequency that people ReTweet you? The first thing you should do is make sure you yourself know why you are on Twitter, and what you want to say and accomplish.  For example, if you are a health clinic trying to build relationships with neighborhood donors, you should Tweet about your health expertise (interesting news health stories, public health announcements, news regarding the treatments you offer, news about donations and how they help you serve the community, etc.).  

Second, you should proactively follow a handful of people who are interested in the same things you are writing about.  (Just look at their profile bio, and their Twitter stream to find out what they are interested in.) This is a way of saying hello on Twitter.  If they are in fact interested in what you have to say, they will likely follow you back.  Quick tip: make sure you have just Tweeted something relevant to them before you follow them, so that when they take a quick look a your Twitter stream and bio, they will be able to recognize that you aren’t a spammer or a bot.  This outreach is very important at first, because it will introduce you to people who are interested more in what you have to say and less in who you are.  That is to say, if your sister or best friend are following you on Twitter, they may be fully satisfied by nothing more than reading your posts.  You want to engage with people who want to pull-in and push-out information from you.

Rather than going into a detailed list of the many specific tactics that you can master to increase the frequency with which you are ReTweeted, I am instead going to give you this link here to a great blog post by @GuyKawasaki, and just share a few fundamentals.  The hard part is introducing yourself to the right audience and knowing your Twitter goals and objectives (i.e., what do you want to say and whom are you speaking with?).  Once you have that solid framework in place, all you need to do is regularly ReTweet some fellow Twitterers, and they will begin to return the favor.  (And pay attention to Guy Kawasaki’s tactical tips to help make sure your material is highly “retweetable.”)

One final tip: Every time you get ReTweeted, add that person to a public or a private list that identifies them as someone who has ReTweeted you.  As the number of people who ReTweet you grows, you can make an organized effort to stay engaged with these people by ReTweeting them, and @replying ot them before doing so for others.  This will help you with the challenge of follower retention and not just follower acquisition, which is what most people focus on exclusively.