The anatomy of a retweet – what gets retweeted?

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I’ve been pondering recently on the difference between running a personal Twitter account versus an anonymous one. You are probably aware that my personal twitter account is @vahva but that I also run @anglicanmemes which I launched in October 2012. In pure ‘numbers’ terms, I seem to have had a lot more success with @anglicanmemes. This is probably due to the fact that actually there is a team behind it – I’m just the main tweeter – and it appeals to a particular demographic.

Most retweets

Getting retweets is a real thrill and is a sign of effective engagement on Twitter. Last week I sent my most retweeted tweet ever – this tweet was retweeted 59 times (that figure has gone up since I wrote this blog post):

I got this information from the very helpful favstar.fm site where you can discover your most ‘favorited’ and ‘retweeted’ tweets and those of others. (Health warning: do not read the list of the most retweeted tweets of all time if you’re in need of restoring your faith in humanity!)

So what makes a retweetable tweet? Based on my very unscientific research, here are some thoughts:

1. It should be funny

Humour goes a really long way on Twitter. One of the joys of Twitter (IMHO) is sharing joy, sharing a quick laugh with other people. Feeling down? Have a quick browse on Twitter and you’ll soon be laughing at something. People love to share laughter on Twitter.

2. Add a picture (using Twitter’s own picture editor)

If the humour is embedded in a picture, even better. The only caveat is that now that Instagram has decoupled from Twitter it is best to use Twitter’s inbuilt photo app (ie tweet and click on the camera icon in the box that comes up on twitter to add your photo). This way the image appears in Twitter itself and doesn’t require you to click on a link to see it.

3. Make it short

The shorter the message, the better. Try and make the content of your tweet as pithy as you can – the more ‘cluttered’ the tweet is, the less likely someone will want to hit that retweet button.

Part of me is a little sad that our most retweeted tweet was one of a picture that said ‘arse’ – however, it clearly brought a smile to many that day and we shouldn’t feel we have to be ‘worthy’ all the time in our use of social media!

What was your most retweeted tweet of all time? Do let me know what it was and why you think it was successful in the comments below.

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