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.

15 thoughts on “The Microblogging Phenomenon Retweet

  1. Kristofer Mencák November 24, 2008 / 4:59 pm

    Thanks for the mention!

    I will try to keep thinking about this. It’s a very interesting topic! =)

    Kristofer Mencák

  2. Hanta November 24, 2008 / 7:55 pm

    So is this about twingly creating a kind of TweetRank? Or building a twitter search based on retweets?

  3. Anton November 24, 2008 / 8:36 pm

    @Kristofer Mencák: You inspired me a lot with your well-written blog post!

    @Hanta: well, nice ideas! Haven’t thinking of it before but using retweets as a parameter of search rankings could of course be possible! Thanks!

  4. Kristofer Mencák November 24, 2008 / 11:00 pm

    @Anton & @Hanta: I think this is a brilliant example of how you can actually get very nice feedback through social media.

    Twingly might just have gotten a new parameter to use for search rankings. Love it! =)

  5. Hanta November 25, 2008 / 11:32 am

    Just in case you make billions with a new retweeting ranking algo…. I´ve never been to sweden 😉

    A daily portion of social media for your business is like “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” for your body 😉

  6. Keren Dagan December 4, 2008 / 5:37 am

    Some good points in this blog post. I like your thought about the progression from blogroll or blog reaction to retweet.

    I think that monitoring retweets can help expose non trivial connections between people (social graph) and without some effort influencers.
    I think that there are more to learn from actions on Twitters. I wrote about causality between certain tweet and “qwitters” here: I think that the opposite is doable too i.e. finding tweets that gets you more followers (some could be retweets:)).


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