Is It Tacky to Request a Retweet?

Retweet on Twitter

My answer to this question would be a loud yes, although there are some situations when requesting a retweet from friends and followers is acceptable – for example when you are looking for a writer or a proofreader and you are trying to get the community involved o help find someone available for such a job.

But asking for RTs when you post a link to your latest article is shameless self promotion and does not make the basis for good Twitter behavior. I’ve been there, done that, and I know for a fact that, although most of my friends were courteous enough to comply, they did not like the “intrusion.”

RBB Public Relations has conducted an informal survey on Twitter and Facebook asking if it was ethical to request a retweet. The poll is still open and so far (on Facebook) the results lead nowhere.


RBB’s digital and social media manager Michelle Catin is right when she says that “Retweets are guided by the basic principles of public relations, and that’s relationship building.”

Retweets should not be an extension of the “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” principle. Retweets should remain a voluntary act, a result of sharing valuable information people can really benefit from.

Sure, ethical use of retweets is a difficult enterprise, considering what we might lose if we count on the chance that someone would just happen to notice our messages and even more, have the courtesy to RT. RTs bring a message in front of more Twitter users then our followers – this means more exposure, something marketers are obviously in need of.

The retweets are in fact the lifeblood of the network. Without them, Twitter would be less powerful, ordinary. People who “push” and “force” others to retweet are very aware of this power, but they are also perverting it. The inherent purpose of retweeting is to spread message of genuine value and general interest, and not to spread marketing articles and drive traffic to obscure sites. We’ve seen the power of the RTs in action so many times – if you look now on Twitter search (trending topics) and TweetMeme you’ll see some more obvious examples.

What worries me are services like uSocial that sell “followers”, like Twitpay that pay to retweet. These services kill the value of the network, kill its genuinity and will eventually kill the network’s true power of influence that derives from spontaneity and earnestness.

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  1. says

    I’m getting so tired of stumble-upon requests from people who otherwise haven’t talked to me ever.. they only ‘contact’ me when they need thumbs up and send multiple shares in a day.. very annoying.. Now, if that little guy asked me to tweet some of his articles, I’d definitely not think twice ;)

  2. Mihaela Lica says

    I don’t mind either, as long as the ones requesting are my friends. But when I get repeated “please RT” messages from people I don’t even know, then I mind. Also, a very annoying practice comes from our fellow SU contacts who share a page to “stumble, review, digg, reddit and tweet pls – buttons on page.” Annoying.

  3. says

    I don’t mind retweeting an article if asked. I treat it the same way as the person who wants me to stumble their article. However, if this ends up being a daily practice, then I’m likely to tire of such requests pretty fast.

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