’Looking at millions of retweets and millions of non-retweeted ‘normal’ tweets, I found that non-retweets tended to contain more self-referential language than retweets. Not only does self-reference not lead to more followers, it also doesn’t lead to more retweets.’

~Dan Zarrella, The Science of Marketing: When to Tweet, What To Post, How To Blog, and Other Proven Strategies

I started the #MondayBlogs meme late last year for one simple reason: to give bloggers and writers a dedicated meme on a dedicated day. I chose that name since it seemed obvious: share blogs on Mondays. It’s one day to share our blogs and retweet others as a kind of informal community. There’s no sign-up sheet, no dues, and also no ‘rules’ other than the guideline to use the hashtag to share and RT on Mondays.

Why did I start it at all? Well, I had participated in #MentionMonday for a few years but found people were using it like #FollowFriday, kind of a ‘hey, follow this person,’ kind of thing — which made NO sense to me: isn’t that what #FollowFriday is for?

I wanted something dedicated solely to BLOGS. Something that was obvious based on just the hashtag. So, #MondayBlogs was born.

Since then, thousands have participated and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve received wonderful feedback from all kinds of folks and most people are pretty cognizant of the fact that it’s a two-part meme: sharing their own posts AND retweeting others. And yet, some don’t get it. They don’t RT others. Ever.

That’s part of the risk/reward system of Twitter. Nobody can make anyone do anything.

Let’s deconstruct.

1. Blogging. There are millions of blogs out there. It can be so hard to get people to just make one small click and read our stuff. Frustrating, even.

For those new to blogging, I suggest purchasing Molly Greene’s fabulous new book (Blog It!) about blogging. It’s a wonderful primer. Remember this: the onus is on US to get people to our blogs. Memes like #MondayBlogs can only do so much.

If someone is disappointed that nobody is clicking or sharing, I suggest they review what they’re doing and how they’re doing it (taking into account Dan’s statement above), and learning how to do things like: optimizing their site, writing catchy headlines, and managing expectations. I’ve found, in my five years of blogging and social media, that there are numerous contributing factors to creating success.

2. Expectations. Let’s break this down a bit more. There’s no guarantee of anything in this life, particularly on social media. But there are a few things we do know: those who are generous and positive generally get more RTs and have more followers (via Dan Zarrella, Social Media Scientist for Hubspot). That’s a fairly profound discovery.

I love Dan’s books because his information is fact-based, sensible, practical. Being positive doesn’t mean the ‘unicorns and rainbows’ version of the world. It’s just a realistic, study-based fact: in breaking down millions of tweets, he has demonstrated that not always talking about ourselves, how horrible our life is, or how nobody treats us fairly nets more RTs and follows. It’s so simple, really.

So we need to manage our expectations about Twitter. People who come on expecting to go viral are sure to be disappointed. It happens only rarely, usually to someone famous, and let’s be honest, it’s not always a positive thing. Even expecting retweets can create disappointment.

3. Karma. Memes are just that: themes. #MondayBlogs, for example, is a weekly theme. We’re not a ‘group’ (in fact, it’s just ME who monitors the @MondayBlogs stream), and I simply cannot make people RT others. I RT as many posts as I can without ending up in Twitter jail, so of course this means I can’t RT everyone. This is why I count on others to share AND retweet. Some don’t get that they should, others may not like what others write and don’t want to endorse them with a RT, and let’s face it — we’re all busy. Sometimes we RT a few and dash out the door.

My experience on Twitter, participating in all manner of chats and memes, is this: give and ye shall receive…eventually. Focus on others. It takes a long time, regular growth, interesting content, and some relationship building to get people to RT us regularly.

And let’s be honest about the ugly side of it: there are people who won’t follow or RT people if they have a low follower count. It’s silly, but that’s part of the culture of Twitter. From a practical standpoint, the more followers someone has, the more RTs they’ll get (again, depending on what they share). So, if someone RTs us, we benefit from all of their followers seeing it and vice versa. So, someone with several thousand followers may be hesitant to RT someone with much less.

I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying that type of thinking exists.

I’ve worked hard curating followers on my streams. I target between 250-500 tweeps daily to follow (I like ManageFlitter. Easy and free). Many people don’t have the time or desire to work hard to build their following for whatever reason, yet still expect people to share their stuff. For the record, I share and RT many people each day. I don’t look at follower count. If you’re funny or interesting, I’ll RT you.

4. Culture. I’ve found that with Twitter, there’s a culture about it that people need to learn and understand. It’s almost like we have to earn our stripes – RTing others with an expectation they will always return the favor will only result in disappointment.

I recently got some negative feedback from a #MondayBlogs participant and I understand her frustration. She participated for two weeks, RTing others, and got barely any RTs in return. It doesn’t seem fair.

I apologized and asked her to give it some time. I understand the frustration, believe me! I hope she’ll give it another chance, as there are hundreds of happy folks who have told me how thrilled they are with the meme resulting in more followers, more blog comments, and more blog views.

My goal is simple: give back to others the same way others have given back to me over the last four years. It doesn’t always work and I apologize to anyone who feels slighted. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to promote #MondayBlogs and ask those who are involved do the same. Memes work best when people actively participate.

So, to answer the original question, yes, it does work. For most. As I said, hundreds participate each week and thousands of blog posts are shared. If tweeps are not getting RTs, perhaps they should examine what they’re doing, or what they could be doing differently, to make it work. And I welcome your feedback to make it better as well.

Bottom line: not all memes fit all people. If it’s not a good fit, there are thousands of other memes and chats.

And that’s what I love about Twitter: we curate our own streams…we make it what we want it to be!

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