The Microblogging Phenomenon Retweet

We’ve seen it more and more lately: the “retweet”-phenomenon at Twitter. It’s used when someone wants to highlight an interesting tweet to others. We blogged about a Youtube-meme last week and retweet is in many cases nothing less than a powerful way to spread memes virally. Or, like Kristofer Mencák explains it:

It is a phenomenon that spreads a meme faster to new networks through weak ties. Basically, novel information reaches further and faster through these weak ties within the network as a whole.

For a marketer, this adds another dimension to the talking in the microblogosphere. Like Kristofer also pointed out in his blog post, a retweet actually shows what people are willing to spread to each other:

I think the monitoring of microblogs in general is important, but monitoring retweets adds an extra dimension, as it is basically monitoring memes that have proved themselves as having viral potential. These can spread – good or bad!

There are more interesting phenomenas at Twitter, like for example hashtags. Hashtags have been helped by 3rd-part services like Summize (now Twitter Search), and in the same way, the “retweet”-phenomenon gets a lot of help by services like Friendfeed and Facebook. For instance, when Robert Scoble retweets something, not only his Twitter-followers but also his Friendfeed-followers and his Facebook-friends get notified. This way, the message gets further spreading, which makes the phenomenon even stronger.

And like Jeremiah Owyang wrote in a comment on his great blog post on the same topic, retweets could be a better way to monitoring influence in the microblogosphere than links (which it is in blogs, generally).

In blogs, we’d used to say that ‘links’ were the most valuable aspect.

Now it’s retweets.