Forget imitation as the sincerest form of flattery—it’s as twentieth century as ripping off interfaces, songs, photos, and books. Today, the sincerest form of flattery is retweeting—the process of forwarding someone else’s tweet to your followers on Twitter. (I assume that you know about Twitter. If you don’t, take a minute and read<a href=”http://www.answers.com/topic/twitter-1&#8243; www.answers.com=””> this description at Answers.com.)

The reason that retweeting is so flattering is that every time people do it, they are putting their reputation on the line. If their followers don’t like the retweet, their reputation is reduced. So whenever someone retweets your tweet, they are expressing confidence that what you’ve tweeted is interesting and good. Thus, the best measure of someone’s quality as a Twitter user is not the number of followers but the amount of retweets.

Excellent insight re:”putting their reputation on the line”.

It is amazing how wide/deep the Retweet meme has spread, given that an RT isn’t even officially supported in the Twitter web interface (yet?).

While 3rd party clients like Tweetdeck, et al. make it a 1-click operation to retweet, many interfaces/clients still don’t, and it’s an actual “labor of love” of copying the tweet text, hitting “reply” in the interface, pasting the RT’d text, and manually putting RT in front of the @username that wrote the original. And if you’re super-“correct”, placing a “:” colon after their username as well, though this is more of a “recommended” standard. Wheh…

Conversely, Twitter’s native “Favorites” function is still largely dead in the water, despite the success of similar features on FriendFeed and now (by way of imitation) on Facebook (they both call them “Likes”).

What Twitter fave’s are missing is a feedback/announcement meachanism of any kind, which makes it a lame duck of sorts: After you click the “Favorite” star, the update is added to your list of faves (which few visitors to your Twitter profile ever look at), “invisibly” so unless you go look at your faves page yourself right away.

And that’s it. No notification of the lucky “favorited” tweet author, no announcement to your Twitterverse, nothing. And so far there is no way I know of to browse the aggregate of fave’s from an equivalent of Twitter Search. You can’t even search your own (you can sequentially look at them, yes). No wonder no one is using them much.

Despite this I have used them to some extent to keep track of Tweets that I thought were particularly interesting or insightful, or contained a (novel) form of Twitter technique or usage right in front of me. Some of them I Retweeted, but many I didn’t, just because the connection wouldn’t have made sense to 99% of my Followers without some longish explanation.

So it is not that surprising that the Twitterverse took matters into its own hands and created the Retweet. Twitter should have the “Favorite” function prepopulate the status bar with e.g. “FV: [username of tweet author] [text of tweet, abbreviated if necessary] [auto-link to the status]”. Then people can still decide whether they want to edit, or send the update at all.

Will they catch on? Or will Tweetdeck have to do this for them [please, please do 🙂 ] ?

Advertisements