Retweets can be a valuable way to share information with your network, build your following and pay homage to the person retweeted. Or it can be spam and a vain attempt to draw attention to yourself. You get to decide.

But what’s a retweet you say? A Retweet is when you re-post a tweet from another person that you found interesting or useful. If you are in a Twitter application there is likely a RT button. On Twitter if you click the retweet link under the post it will retweet it for you but will not allow you to edit. I prefer to copy and paste the quote and add the RT and username. Painful but it works. (This is why you should switch to a twitter client!)

Retweeting is beneficial for several reasons. It aligns your name with the information you are sharing and shows your network who you think post valuable information to share with them. It shows respect for the person who dug up that bit of news, said something brilliant or is just plain spot on about something. For a brand in particular watching how a retweet spreads can help identify influencers to help support the brand and it’s initiatives. If one tweet launches a thousand retweets, wouldn’t you want to know that original tweeter? If you get re tweeted a lot you’re probably building your social network pretty fast. People will see you re tweeted and find out more about you and why you’re so smart.

Retweet best practices

Use Via or RT
You can use either one, it all depends on what you like. RT: @JFoutsWhatever the message is or Whatever the message is via @Jfoutsare both acceptable formats. This lets people know you’re quoting someone and not coming up with it on your own. It’s respectful to maintain the attribution of the original poster.

Mention the original poster
If @Jimre tweeted a post he saw from @Judywho retweeted @Jill’s original post it would look something like this: “RT: @Judy@Jillsomething really brilliant.” Of course this can quickly get out of hand with multiple people mentioned so it’s considered OK for you to just mention @Jillwhen you repost it. “@JillSomething really brilliant”.

If you have to edit, be respectful of the original content and intentions
You can make hash out of someone’s message and trust me, they won’t appreciate it. Sure, you can first try removing the vowels “+ ur twt cld lk prty slly” but if that makes it unintelligible see what you can remove without distorting the original message. If the tweet is still too hard to shorten you can send a power tweet through Twylah or a service like Twitlonger to post a longer than average link.

Check the links
People often have typos in the links they send out on Twitter. If you don’t check to see if the link works before you retweet you’re going to have egg on your face. Actually read the post too to make sure it’s not a link to something you don’t want to support.

Never ever, ever change a tweet to suit you and say it came from someone else. That’s called TweetJacking.

If you want to add a comment and the tweet you are posting is too long simply reply to the sender with your comment followed by a retweet of the original tweet. People will see them both in context.

Be grateful
If someone retweets you say thank you and/or continue the conversation with them. Don’t be lazy. If two people retweet you, thank each one separately. If 20 retweet you pat yourself on the back for a job well done and then say “Wow, thanks all for the RTs!” #Awesome.

It’s also a good practice to go look at the profile of a person who retweets you. Do you want to follow them? Is there something in their recent tweets you can retweet in turn or comment on? Reciprocity and sharing is the heart of Twitter communication!

What to retweet?
Anything that interests you and you think would benefit your followers is the knee=jerk response. The goal here is to share new information though. Don’t be a”me too” retweeter. If it’s a 3 day old Mashable post about iphones, everybody’s seen it and they’ll either think you’ve had your head in the sand or are trying to ride on the sinking wave of interest in an old news topic.

Basically look to retweet breaking news. The kind of thing nobody’s heard yet and is sure to want to hear about and share with their network.

How to get retweeted
If you want to be retweeted then you need to post timely information your network will love. If you are tweeting for a cause or something with a time associated with it say so. Say please. People are much more likely to retweet your news or call to action if you ask nicely, and not too often. If all you ever post comes with a “Pls RT” attached nobody will bother.

Love to retweet?
Check out how you score on retweetrank or Twitaholic.