Please Don’t Retweet

Angry Birds vs Angry Cats

I’ve come to an opinion on something (and as with all opinions, it’s about as useful as sesame seeds on a bun):asking for a retweet or mention of something – that isn’t cause related – isn’t cool.

Here’s my thinking: if your idea isn’t strong enough to fly on its own, then why should you chum the waters asking for it to be shared?

Go right now and look at the results of this search. How many of these actually seem worthy? See what I’m smelling here?

Please Don’t ASK for Retweets

Again, unless it’s a cause, and then ask shamelessly and often for retweets or mentions, but otherwise? Let your work live or die on its own creative merits. It just doesn’t make sense to bother people to ask them to falsely spread information that wasn’t interesting to get there on its own.

But, I could be wrong.

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  • http://www.converstations.com MikeSansone

    Yep.

  • Susan

    Hmm- You are so right-I used to feel guilty because I didn’t want to further some of those silly retweets and causes!-Thanks for the PERMISSION to just let it go!

  • http://jimsmarketingblog.com Jim Connolly

    I agree 100% here, Chris.  It sounds needy when people ask for RT’s/

    Also, I think it’s a little like the boy who cried wolf; if you DO need a RT for a great cause, who will listen?

    Thanks for voicing genuine common sense on this.

  • Christian Eriksson

    I was going to share this post with others, but now, I am not so sure ;)

    • http://rickmanelius.com Rick Manelius

      I was going to make the same joke. Jinx! (and shared anyway :)

  • http://expatlifecoach.com John Falchetto

    I guess it really depends on how everyone defines a ’cause’. I am sure if you ask 10 bloggers if they have a cause a good number will tell you yes their cause is X. 
    I help expatriates live a better life, you help small and large businesses understand this online jungle. We all have causes.

    Saying that I agree with Jim, it looks needy and desperate to ask for an RT. It’s about the same thing as coming up to a date with a sign that says please love me.
    So no I won’t do  it.

  • Charlie Green

    Absolutely. 

    Over-asking people to retweet your stuff is smarmy; self-aggrandizing; lacking in self-pride. It just makes others feel uncomfortable. 

    I think on this one you’re pulling your punches, Chris; it should be said more strongly. There’s way too much favor-asking going on, and not enough favor-giving.  When you need to ask a favor, you want it to be gratefully granted, not grudgingly complied with.  And the way to get there is to be very careful with the requests you make.

    If it’s good, it’ll get re-tweeted.  If the only way to get re-tweeted is to guilt-trip your friends, they won’t stay your friends for long. 

  • Steve Seager

    Asking for a RT is only self promotion (and not cool) when you don’t offer value in the content you publish.

    Educating people (offering great business value or insights) doesn’t always instantly click. So sometimes you need to drive it through. Asking for a RT is a way of saying to people, “You may not be fully plugged into this particular issue right now, but trust me, this is really important to you. Check it out!”

    So asking for a RT on a post that offers value to others is very cool :)

    • Anonymous

      Not a bad point at all.  I think social media works best when you highlight and talk about others, not yourself, and this definitely fits in with that!  When you do this, how do you plug the post?  Just title and link, link only, etc? 

  • http://dave-lucas.blogspot.com Dave Lucas

    THANK_YOU! Some of these darned re-tweeters are bordering on the ridiculous!

  • http://everydayemstips.com Greg Friese

    I think you got the post title wrong. “Please Don’t Ask for a ReTweet” fits the post content better. 

    Sometimes the message is strong, but the audience is small. Please RT could be shorthand for “I have done something great. Can you help me share it?”

    • http://rickmanelius.com Rick Manelius

      I thought the same thing regarding the title. However, I would have simply glossed over “Please Don’t Ask for a ReTweet” (the more accurate title) because I think I would have got the jist before I even opened the link.

      Now a title like “Please Don’t Retweet” (if an accurate title) would be super controversial and thus worth a read. Hence I’m here :)

      I still think the more accurate title would be better… but I’m sure Chris had a reason/strategy for this one, just like all the rest of them.

    • http://rickmanelius.com Rick Manelius

      I had an ‘ah ha.’ I think the title is meant to reflect what one would post in their twitter comments (instead of please retweet) rather than as to the tone of this article/audience.

      I can be taken both ways, but I think I see the intended use now.

  • Chris Reimer

    Your point is valid, but I still put PLS RT in every once in awhile. Last week I tweeted about the “saw a bad blog post about you” DMs that are still circulating. I’d really like to see these Twitter account hacks stop. I put PLS RT at the end and it was retweeted nearly 70 times. It’s a message that was I really wanted to see spread. Used sparingly and appropriately, I don’t have a problem asking your followers for a little help.

  • http://twitter.com/wickedjava Mike Dougherty

    I would say for a cause and/or looking for volunteers for a cause/project. I’ve asked Pls Rt before, but that’s when working on a caused based project and,. while the work was strong enough to stand on it’s own, there was only so much that could be said in the space of less than 140 characters that the link took up.

  • http://rickmanelius.com Rick Manelius

    I like these types of articles as they challenge social media norms and challenge our thought process. In this particular example, I think this is accurate for 90-95% of the requested retweets, with the exceptions being for a special cause and not just building a friend’s traffic.

  • http://www.becomeafranchiseowner.biz The Franchise King

    Chris,
    I think that it’s okay to ask others that you know, trust, and like to RT something that’s important to them.

    I get about 3-4 requests every month to do it, and I don’t mind-unless it’s just garbage.

    But, I don’t hang with people that promote junk. And, I’m thinking that they wouldn’t hang with me if they thought that I did either.

    As long as it’s not overdone, I’m cool getting asked, and cool asking for RT’s, once in awhile.

    JL 

  • Anonymous

    Great point!  This thought can be expanded into a lot of other areas, but it touches a core misunderstanding about marketing in general:  Impressions can make up for bad content.

    People who think this do all sorts of dumb things, like asking people to re-tween bad content, concentrating on SEO, and focusing on “branding”.  None of these things are bad per se, but no matter how far you can spread manure, it still stinks, and all you have accomplished is expanding the number of people that think you are completely irrelevant.  That exposure actually hurts you!

    If you deliver high-quality content on a consistent basis then people WILL re-tweet you, Google will rank you highly, and your brand will become real in the minds of your audience.

  • Anonymous

    Is it your contention that this is why the birds are angry? ;)

  • http://twitter.com/angelashelton Angela Shelton

    Great point. I have been asked to “please give me some Klout too” after someone gives me Klout and I think it falls under this same point.  There is no site, no cause, no page, nothing to give Klout too. In order to keep my integrity of what I truly love, I simply can’t do it.  My finger cannot click on Klout. Thanks for posting this.  You are correct, kind sir! 

  • http://twitter.com/klrichardson Kevin Richardson

    Thank you for bringing an influential voice to something that churns my stomach. Even if it’s a friend of mine, the RT should mean that each individual found it meaningful enough to share. Anything less is gaming a system meant to be open and honest. If you want others to retweet you, create and share meaningful content. The value of your message shouldn’t be about how many RTs you receive but how meaningful your message is to those who consumed it and decided to share.

  • http://twitter.com/JudyHelfand JudyHelfand

    Chris,
    Short and simple, I agree. You said:
    “Here’s my thinking: if your idea isn’t strong enough to fly on its own, then why should you chum the waters asking for it to be shared?”

    I am wondering if you beleive what you wrote, then why do you have multiple duplicated share ions on each of your posts? Yes, I know these icons and their placement are part of your style sheet, but you can control the stylesheet. You have them at the beginning of your post, you have them at the bottom of each post. And yes, I know you only have one Twitter RT icon in the post, but now DISQUS now allows people to share their comment in Twitter, which is basically an RT.

    Do a test. Remove all of your sharing icons and see how many of your readers actually copy the post’s permanent link and tweet it out.  Might be interesting.

    We’ll talk later. By the way, I liked this post.
    Judy
     

    • http://www.qaqn.com Daniel M. Clark

      I think he’s differentiating between coming right out and asking for an RT and merely giving someone a convenient button for all the sharing services. It’s a distinction I think is valid. Having said that… I don’t agree with the idea of not asking for RT’s. I don’t do it often, but I don’t see the harm in it. Like anything else: moderation.

      • http://twitter.com/JudyHelfand JudyHelfand

        Daniel,
        I know what you are saying, but I am taking it one step further. Don’t all of us (including Chris) ask for retweets by having sharing icons all over our posts? Displaying the icon(s) is a request, isn’t it?

        Judy

        • http://www.qaqn.com Daniel M. Clark

          Absolutely, but I think the buttons are a passive request while asking for RT’s on Twitter is an active request. If that makes sense? I think Chris is okay with passive requests (because every blog post is inherently a passive request for sharing just by virtue of being published) but what he has a problem with is active requests – going on Twitter and saying “Hey, I just published this awesome thing, PLS RT!”.

          At least, that’s my take on it. I’m not trying to put words in his mouth… just offering my take on what I believe he’s saying.

          • http://twitter.com/JudyHelfand JudyHelfand

            Daniel,
            Yes, I am sure you are correct about Chris’ intent. But I often wonder about our intentions when we RT…are we looking or hoping for someone, anyone to return the favor?

            Judy

  • http://www.thercom.com.br Gildo Bittemcourt

    Deixaremos o egoismo de lado,o dinheiro e os interesses materiais ficarão em segundo plano,
    Não espalhar o que é bom para todos,vai contra os princípios Divino,mas também não devemos espalhar o que não presta.

  • http://www.ordinarytraveler.com Christy @ Ordinary Traveler

    I completely agree. A lot of people who give advice as to how to grow your business or your blog tell people to ask for retweets. I think it’s the worst advice you can give. It looks desperate and people don’t want to be bothered with that stuff.

  • Anonymous

    I kind of agree with this.  I actually feel this way about asking people to spread the word about my content in general, but I do it anyway because that seems to be how the game is played.

  • http://philgerbyshak.com Phil Gerbyshak

    Interesting advice Chris. I don’t like to ask for RTs either, and yet the world’s only (that I know) social media scientist Dan Zarella did research that suggests that asking for a retweet gives you a better chance of being retweeted. Makes me curious what the real “action” ration was on those, or if folks just took pity, RTd the message, and still ignored it.

  • http://twitter.com/KellyTirman Kelly Tirman

    Chris, I think you are picking at the wrong part of the food chain here. While asking for a retweet or mention of something might not be cool – I see no harm in it.

    Hell, at least they are out their pounding the pavement. I give them props for having initiative.

    I find that people who ask for a retweet or mention are asking because they don’t have the strong network (yet).

    This is why I think you are picking on the wrong part of the food chain.

    1) Triberr – anyone can join a Triberr group and have their blog post pretty much auto tweeted quid pro quo. Not every blog posts is strong enough to fly on its own – right? The cooler you are the more the cooler tribes want you.

    2) Closed social networks (example: Facebook groups) – Many people in social media belong to private communities where they talk behind closed doors and help market each other. Again quid pro quo – and a lot of things get retweeted that aren’t strong enough to fly on its own.

    3) Stumble Groups – There are a few powerhouse stumbleupon groups out there. Similar to Triberr – they are invite only. Again an example of how someone asking for a retweet is doing some because they don’t have the same opportunities.

    If someone has to ask for it they probably need it. The very least I can do is help them.

  • http://www.themanwifechronicles.com/ David Kaa

    Can you retweet this? Please. I did say please.

    • http://lisadelay.com/blog Lisa Colon DeLay

      Still better than “RT or die” …maybe

  • http://twitter.com/dphelan Dan Phelan

    If it’s a charitable endeavor or a good cause, and you need some help raising awareness, IMO it’s ok.  Otherwise, write quality content that gets retweeted on its own merit.

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  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    Chris only this time can you retweet this comment on your blog… 

    When it annoys me the most is when someone never contacts you and sends you a DM so you can RT their stuff. 

  • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

    Hmm, I think you’re right. :)

  • http://twitter.com/danzarrella Dan Zarrella

    So what you’re saying is: “ask, but don’t say ‘please’?”

  • http://twitter.com/ElizGaucher Elizabeth Gaucher

    Well stated.  I have made this request only a few times, and in each case it was 1) advocacy around specific child welfare issues that were time-sensitive, or 2) to encourage a group of followers who tend to be shy about hitting the RT button (writers – do they think it’s stealing?) to pass along writing opportunities.  Thanks for a healthy reminder:  Too much RT askin’ = TACKY.

  • http://scottmonty.com scottmonty

    I’m probably going to be in the minority here, but why should a cause-related effort have to be held to a different standard? Asking for a RT is the microblogging equivalent of putting out a press release. Because all we’re doing is asking others to help us carry our message.

    I think the issue you’ve identified is that the ask for RTs is often indiscriminate. An alternative approach would be to target the exact group of people you want help from and develop a specific pitch for them (if a pitch can be reduced to a tweet), or a specific ask regarding a RT. 

    But to ban the ask for a RT across the board – even excepting causes – seems a little draconian to me. Just my $0.02.

  • Jack Lynady

    Love the picture. Not sure twitter is a place where “birds of a feather flock together” anymore.

  • Jay Baer

    About 3 years ago, a new and obscure blogger sent you an email asking for a RT (because you didn’t follow the blogger, a DM wasn’t viable). You retweeted the post, creating the highest traffic day in that blog’s short history.

    That blog picked up some steam after that. Other people with large following started retweeting on occasion too, sometimes by request, sometimes organically. Within 8 months, the blog cracked the power 150.

    Some say that blog had good content, or was smart about search. And that may be true. But without your RT, none of that would have mattered.

    The blog was Convince & Convert. The blogger was me.

    So I’ll disagree with you on this. Asking for (and receiving) RTs tills the content field, and uncovers new voices that can help us all.

    You did it for me, which is why I gladly help others when it’s content I believe in. (but I read everything first and only tweet what I like. As DM Scott says, “you are what you publish.”)

    Thank you. Then, and now.

  • Anonymous

    I hate when people ask for celebrities to retweet them. How useless. 

    But I also get annoyed with cause related RTs. In this economy, most people don’t have money to give. Awareness is a totally overused concept. I just saw someone RT this post by @officialcancer:disqus 

    Unfortunately, 97% of twitter users will not RT this for cancer. But the 3% who do are the ones willing to #makeachange

    How is RTing that making the change? How am I supposed to make a change regarding cancer? I’m a law student, NOT a medical researcher. I’m in as much student loan debt as someone with a new mortgage – how am I supposed to donate to research? There is nothing I can do to combat cancer but pray, and retweeting a post that’s just there to make me feel guilty is not going to help the cause whatsoever.

    • http://www.qaqn.com Daniel M. Clark

      To me, the problem with that example isn’t that they’re asking for a retweet, it’s that they’re somehow under the delusion that getting people to RT will help cure cancer. It’s slacktavism at it’s finest. It provides no link to a page where one can donate, and provides no useful information. Why would anyone RT that message? This is like those on Facebook that are under the delusion that “POST THIS AS YOUR STATUS IF YOU AGREE!!!!” will do anything useful.

  • Rachel Rodenborg

    I couldn’t agree more! Seeing “Please retweet” at the end of a tweet–especially a non-cause tweet–makes me respond with NOT tweeting. It feels desperate to me to “beg” for retweets in this way. I’ve heard lots of people say that “please retweet” increases your chances of being retweeted, but I highly doubt it! Thanks for this spot-on post. Rachel

  • http://twitter.com/novascotiarasta Rasta

    I think the only time you should ask for RT, is to quickly pass the word about something your followers may not grasp fast enough, like an #Occupy movement, for example

  • http://twitter.com/KathyLisiewicz Kathy Lisiewicz

    I’ve tried a few times, and I don’t see that the results are worth the characters. I suppose I might ask for a cause; I’m more likely to ask if I’m looking for information about something specific. But mostly I’m not likely to ask.

    • Anne

      “I don’t see that the results are worth the characters.” -and here lies the tangential take-away. There are people out there doing cool things who then spend a lot of time saying “check out this cool thing” rather than pumping out more cool things. 

  • http://owengreaves.com/ owengreaves

    To me, asking someone to retweet is like inviting yourself to a private party you weren’t invited to in the first place, and I never go where I’m not invited. Mostly because, it’s personal, if it’s a cause and it’s public domain…I’m all over it, just sayin.

    Blessings, Owen

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know about this one…. as I try to teach people you always need to ask for what you want in this world (I would rather raise kids who make the ask than those who sit back waiting to be discovered for their talents).

    The thing to remember is that if you ask and the person does not RT you —  do not get all huffy.  To simply ask means you might get a boost, a nod, or a hand up.  To not ask means you might wallow in the shadows and not be seen (when you deserve the limelight).  But you have to be cool with the actions taken by the other person.
    I imagine you get a lot more asks than I do…. but I get several asks for RT’s or reviews of something or another.  If the message is something that aligns with my thoughts, I will do it.  That said, I have passed on RT’s or reviews only to get nasty notes later when they see me do it for another person.  I tend not to ask for people to RT me that often (although I have asked on occasion).  I have sent books to people to review, but if they don’t do it I am cool with that, as we have to remember we never know what motivates the next person, so we must let them make their own decisions.

    thom

  • http://twitter.com/josh_atdinovite Josh at Dinovite

    From experience. I’m with you on this one.

    josh

  • http://twitter.com/trimblyton Emily Trimble

    I tend to think it’s annoying asking for RTs. Generally because they tend to come from someone who never otherwise interacts with me, but then wants me to tweet about their blog, contest, voting, etc. It’s just plain rude. I’d rather interact with you regularly and you’ll naturally share my (and me yours) information.

  • http://twitter.com/JenniferLSpies Jennifer Spies

    Coming from the nonprofit field, I disagree that causes should be exempt from the “don’t ask for a retweet” standard.  No matter who you or your organization is/does, your content should be able to stand on it’s own.  If you are a cause asking for retweets on a regular basis, people are not going to respond when you present them with important information that needs to reach people further out. 

    Thankfully, I have not seen many nonprofits asking for retweets unless it is an extremely time-sensitive piece (ie the Red Cross tweeting aboout support in disaster zones).

    • http://FundraisingCoach.com marcapitman

      Well said! I totally agree that nnprofit work should be interesting and compelling enough to stand on its own!

    • http://twitter.com/Karen5Lund Karen E. Lund

      Interesting you should mention the Red Cross, because I’m a volunteer (my avatar is in honor of my anniversary as a vol). I’ve RTed and otherwise shared urgent info and rarely, but occasionally, asked for RTs–but only when it is both important and time sensitive.

      Here’s another point to consider: in my non-disaster time I enjoy reading all the good stuff that gets shared online, but I consider it the reader’s decision to share or not. To me it is presumptuous to ask someone to share (RT or on Facebook or anything else). Most of us will share or not depending on how much we like the content and whether our friends and followers might like it, too. (Providing “share” buttons on blogs or websites is different; it’s a convenience for the reader. But to make a big deal of asking for a share is annoying.)

      Sooo… What happens when someone asks for an RT is that it raises the bar for what I consider good content. It’s kind of like a concert: if it’s a free concert in the park, I’m not critical; if I paid $100 for a ticket it better be darn good! Thus asking for an RT, in my case anyway, actually reduces the odds that I’ll think it deserves one.

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  • http://www.obsessedwithconformity.com Jim Mitchem

    Dear Chris, I have only done this with you. Via DM. But then, I was never asking for a mention or an RT. I was only trying to share something I’d written that I thought you might be interested in. The way I figured it, you used to be so inundated with traffic that you’d never see me in your stream anyway. So I’d send you a DM and briefly qualify the content. Though it was never a direct solicitation for an RT. What happened after I’d sent you the DM was out of my control. And even though you’ve pushed a lot of my content out into your stream, I was never really sure how to thank you for it. Because thanking you would look like my DM was asking for a favor. Which it kind of was, but not really. Look, you’re smart enough to know who your audience is and what kinds of things they want to read. You don’t need me telling you. 

    So on the one hand, I’m in agreement with you. But on the other, I guess not. People like me who have small audiences need to get our content in the hands of people who have larger audiences – as a way to accelerate specific messages. Or in my case, advance my body of work. I reckon a lot of people like me DM a lot of people like you as a way to get their content out there. Hell, I’d even bet that this is a recommended tactic on one of those blogs with headlines like ’5 ways to do (something) better.’ 

    Personally, I’m going to write anyway. One day, people will notice it. Because really, it’s simply too good to be ignored. ;) As far as I can remember, in the 3 years I’ve been involved with Social Media, I don’t think I’ve ever asked anyone to publicly RT anything. Besides, just because there’s a request for an RT doesn’t mean someone’s going to see it (or do it) anyway. If the content is strong enough, or the cause just enough, the right people will see it and act accordingly. And that’s got to be good enough. Anything else is panhandling. Unless there’s an Amber Alert, or a lost dog or something. Then, I definitely think publicly asking for an RT is ok. 

    Anyway, now that I have you – I just want to say thanks for all the times you pushed my content into your stream. I know you didn’t have to do it. I’m very grateful. 

  • http://twitter.com/Seansjohnson Sean Johnson

    I retweeted this for the ladies!

  • Karel Tupas

    I agree with you on this post. I find it quite annoying when people ask me for a retweet. I actually did not mind at first but then they just wont stop and most retweets don’t even have sense.

  • http://socialposer.com/ Collin

    I’m with you 100% on this one, Chris. 

    I’ve also noticed another disturbing trend that’s very similar – people tweeting requests for others to give them +K on Klout to say they are influential on a topic. If you are truly influential, then you shouldn’t need to beg others to vouch for you. Keep up the great work. 

  • http://twitter.com/rogerdooley Roger Dooley

    I’ve always felt uncomfortable asking for a retweet if it involved my own stuff.  On the other hand, RTs for charitable causes, someone looking for a job, someone trying to hire someone, etc. seem fine to me.  It’s a combination of value and intent.  If my intent is to truly help (not promote) or to offer something of value (not a free e-book, but rather something like a cool job opening), then it feels fine.  And, I expect, is far more likely to get actual RTs from others.

  • http://www.stevefogg.com Steve Fogg

    I’ll always ask for a RT if it’s a good post that someone else has written, never on my own branding and marketing blog. 

    I will ask trusted ppl in my twitter network via DM if they will share posts but I do it very sparingly and always make sure that I share their content that I think is shareable.

  • Rtolmach

    Hey Chris
    A recent report from Dan Zarella said that tweets with “Please RT” got something like 30% more retweets, and ones with “Please Retweet” got something like 50% more.  Still, what I’m really loving in amplification is the verbal megaphone at Own Wall Street