There is a continuing debate on Twitter over the proper social media etiquette when someone retweets you. Should you thank them, or should you ignore the retweet? Some social media specialists are arguing that, “No! There is already too much clutter on Twitter!” On the other hand, thanking someone is the polite thing to do. They shared your tweet because they must have found value in it; it makes sense to thank them.
At Media Bistro, much has been said for the first opinion. If you really need to thank someone, send them a direct message, argues Shea Bennett. If they aren’t following you, a “THNX 4 RT!” is not going to convince them to add you. Otherwise, those thank yous, often without context, are going to clutter up everyone’s feeds. They are a waste of 140 characters on a platform already swelling with content.
But is that really the case?
Twitter is huge. It is messy. And it is growing by the minute—the microblogging platform is set to double its user base in 2014. The Cookerly PR Twitter account has more than 1000 followers, and it can be overwhelming—almost impossible—to keep up with every tweet.
When Anne, Candace and I log in to @CookerlyPR, our goal is to share industry knowledge, to connect with other professionals and to “talk shop” with other Twitter users. We follow conversations where we can, but the site is more often a complement to dialogues taking place on other social media platforms. Hashtag searches and trending topics keep us abreast of what the industry is talking about or interested in, and when someone retweets our tweets, we thank them.
That thank you isn’t a bid to win their favor; it’s a message of gratitude that they found value in the article we shared. Sometimes, if they added their opinion, one of us will respond with a quick quip, too, but more often than not, we respond with a simple acknowledgement.
Social media is so new that we are still figuring out all the correct etiquette. On one day, a PR pro might worry over email signatures (I sign with “Best,”), and on another, we’re debating Twitter etiquette. Opinions are going to differ wildly, and what works for some professionals may be a major faux pas to another.
So, what’s the best way to navigate all these recommendations and etiquette rules? Until social media gets its own Miss Manners, the only rule you and your social media team should follow is this: do good. Be considerate in your posts, thank someone if you feel like you ought to thank them, engage followers in a conversation, but—most importantly—tweet them the way you want to be tweeted.