Do you know your Retweet Number?

Did you know that every twitterer has a Retweet Number? What in the heck is a retweet and what’s a retweet number? A retweet is the method by which people pass along nuggets of information they find valuable or worthy to share with others. Your Retweet Number is simply the minimum number of characters you should leave at the end of your tweet if you want other people to be able to quickly and easily retweet what you have to say. If you don’t keep this number in mind, people will have to edit your tweets in order to Retweet them. In many cases, people may not retweet you, simply because you’ve filled up too much of your 140-character allotment, and they are too busy or otherwise engaged to take the time to figure out how to re-edit your tweet to fit the message back into the 140 character maximum.

Professional tweeters know their Retweet number, and do not exceed it when composing tweets they hope or expect to be retweeted.

All retweets have the following characters in common:

“RT @{your twitter name}: ”

So that means your Retweet number is 6 plus the length of your twitter name. (Six characters for the letters RT, the two spaces, the @ symbol, and the colon.) Since my Twitter name is mmpartee, which is 8 spaces, that means my Retweet number is 14. So as I type out a tweet that I hope or expect to be retweeted, I want to make sure that I have 14 or more characters left at the end of the line I’m composing.

Also, feel free to leave even more than your minimum retweet number remaining; if a tweet has fantastic pass-along value, it may get retweeted by more than one person. The only exception to allowing for your Retweet Number is if you use the phrase “Please Retweet” or “Pls RT” since it’s easy to remove this part of your message when retweeting.

While valuable, personal, and relevant content of a tweet is what is going to inspire others to retweet it, this simple knowledge of your personal Retweet Number can make the difference between being retweeted or not, and that can translate into thousands of additional views for your tweet. And finally, a person who wants to retweet your message has NO CHOICE but to shrink it down to fit the 140 character maximum, so they HAVE to edit your tweet anyway. Why not be polite and thoughtful and do the work for them? If you don’t leave room, they might not even acknowledge you as the originator of the message.

I’m also excited to announce I’ll be delivering a Twitter 101 Workshop webinar for on Thursday, January 21, and a more advanced session on Twitter: Where’s the ROI? for Online Impact 2010 this Thursday, January 14. I’m also helping organize PodCamp WesternMass 2 for Saturday, February 6.

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6 Responses to “Do you know your Retweet Number?”

  1. Jeffry Pilcher Says:

    Mine is 19, allotting for spaces before “RT” and after “@FinancialBrand.”

    Some things that need to be said take all 140 characters though.

  2. Morriss Partee Says:

    Jeffry – I will counter that: 140 characters is an arbitrary constraint. If you can operate within 140 characters because you have no choice, you can operate within 121 characters as well.

    And don’t forget, if someone retweets you, they MUST edit the retweet to fit 140 characters. So instead of letting them figure out which words to chop or abbreviate out of your tweet, do it for them, and they are 3085% less likely to edit it themselves.

  3. Jeffry Pilcher Says:

    Sometimes what needs to be said to- or heard by the tweet’s readers is more important than getting myself retweeted. If the occasional tweet hits 140 characters and I screw myself out of some retweeting, I’ll get by.

    Also, extending your logic one more step, if something can be said in an arbitrary 121 characters, then you should be able to chop another 19 characters out and say it in 102. For that matter, I could just tweet a link with no comments, thereby leaving the maximum amount of space for retweets.

    It’s one thing to know your retweet number, and be sensitive to that number when composing tweets. It’s another thing to prioritize retweeting to the point that you create a rule saying you can’t send 140-character tweets.

  4. Jeffry Pilcher Says:

    Also, I compose many of my tweets in a way that should make it easier for people to retweet even when/if all 140 characters were used in my original version. The structure I like to use is:


    Almost always the tweet can be edited to drop the follow-up thought or question in a retweet.

  5. Jeffry Pilcher Says:

    The comment system screwed up my syntax in the example.


  6. Translating Twitter speak and garnering retweets Says:

    […] #2- leave room. 140 characters isn’t much, but leave space for the people RT’ing you to add their comments or they may opt not to retweet. Here is a post that explains how to figure out your retweet number. […]

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