Five Reasons to Read What You Retweet

All too often I see retweets that make me question whether the person who retweeted actually read the content or clicked on the link. While I know it was probably the result of automation or trusting content from normally reliable and accurate sources, it can still waste my time. Twitter clients that help you automate and schedule tweets are great time savers, but must be used with caution. Anyone that has been on Twitter for awhile probably has had one of the following happen:

  • Send out a tweet with misspellings
  • Send out a tweet with a broken link
  • Retweet poorly written content.

After all, humans make mistakes and automation isn’t as smart as you are. Analysis of Twitter retweets shows that users don’t always click on the links they retweet – in fact, almost one in five tweets generates more retweets than clicks. That means whether through automation or because of not taking the time to read, many people will retweet a link without even checking it out first!

Despite the “Retweets ≠ endorsements” disclaimer that many folks put on their Twitter profile, bad retweets DO reflect poorly on you, your company, and your brand. Here’s why:

RTs with broken links = I don’t care enough to check content or read what I tweet

This applies not only to broken links, but also poorly written content, hard to read content, or inappropriate content. I recently clicked a link in a RT that came with a bunch of obnoxious autoplay (and loud) video ads on the sidebar. It irritated me and I didn’t bother to read the article. By retweeting, you are saying that this is interesting or worth looking at. If you didn’t read it, why should anyone else? Don’t sacrifice your reputation on bad content.

Retweets often result in engagement

A lot of what I retweet results in interactions with the person/account that originated the content or others who find it informative. And engagement is exactly the point of Twitter. If you don’t read content you retweet and someone responds to you, then you have that uh-oh moment. Yes, you can go back at that point and read it, but the time delay (or worse, faking that you read it) may cause you to miss an opportunity to engage with customers, new clients, and new connections.

Unwittingly passing along spam or malicious links

Yes – it happens and too often. Protect yourself and your connections by checking links before retweeting.

Headlines can be misleading: retweeting content that doesn’t align with your company’s values

There is a difference between passing along an article that may be informative even if you don’t particularly agree with all the statements or conclusions, versus retweeting content that is blatantly false and paints your company or industry in a bad light. Particularly damaging are satire videos/posts that people can mistakenly think are real.

The tweet that goes nowhere

I also see a lot of retweets with links that go nowhere – to someone’s blog that has a partial version or commentary on a news story, or requires registration to read (which I personally despise). If you do retweet subscription material, make sure you denote that in your retweet. If you don’t click on it, how do you know it takes readers to the original news story or that they can even view it?

Do yourself and your followers a favor, and click on links and read before you retweet. Shortcuts are not worth your reputation.