Monday, September 21, 2009

Twitter And The Courtesy Of Retweeting

Twitter’s strong word-of-mouth characteristics are derived from the common courtesy of retweets of its user base, not on technology – this is changing with an announcement this week. This arbitrary courtesy is the flaw that could lead to its demise once Twitter becomes more commonplace and the tight knit group of early adopters finds that courtesy gets undermined. For example: I have 100 followers and I post an event notification for the small city I live in. One of my followers (call him @WhatcomTravel) decides that this posting is relevant to his/her followers and decides to retweet my posting. By common courteous he starts the post RT: @myusername which gives me credit for the original posting. If he has 2000 followers, some of them will start to follow me to if they feel my postings are relevant to their interest. In essence they go to the source. Here lies the issue; if they follow me it dilutes the attention that they pay to the person that retweeted my post (@WhatcomTravel). The more people they follow the more information they have to process. So, from a tactical perspective @WhatcomTravel shouldn’t post my twitter handle in the RT. If @WhatcomTravel wants to maintain a power position in the community as the end source for information, retweeting without reference makes him appear like the source of the information. Though I can block followers that in essence steal my tweets, it wouldn’t be advantageous if I was the promoter of the event and wanted to get the word out. Also, I would have to be diligent in searching for tweets that I post being re-tweeted without reference and then police those followers by blocking them. Any type of policing and blocking undermines the retweet magic of Twitter’s word of mouth communication. However, Twitter announced this week that it would embed retweeting into its API, allowing re-tweets to be handled by technology and not common courtesy. For the reasons stated above, I think this is a great idea. Reference: Twitter’s Upcoming Retweet Feature {6230289B-5BEE-409e-932A-2F01FA407A92}

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