Twitter Continues Beta Testing of Retweet Feature

    November 19, 2009
    Chris Crum

Update 3: Twitter is now telling me that I am part of a beta test group for the retweet features, so I guess it is no longer on hold.

New Retweet feature

Those who are part of the test get the following message:

Hi there, you’re part of a beta group receiving this feature, which means you may start seeing retweets in a new way. People who don’t have this yet will see your retweets prefaced by "RT".

Update 2: Twitter says on the Twitter Status blog, "We’re working on a few problems related to the ongoing rollout. These should be resolved quickly and it will be back on for those who had the Retweet feature previously. And we’ll then continue the incremental rollout of this feature to everyone."

Update: There is an interesting post here from Twitter CEO Evan Williams, which talks about how the retweet button works, and why Twitter is doing it the way it is.

Original Article: Back in the summer time, Twitter announced that it intended to add a retweet option to its service and the API. Twitter is now rolling out the feature to a small percentage of Twitter users.

"You may remember that we shared the mechanics of this feature with developers a while back so they could think about how to work it into Twitter apps," says Twitter Co-founder Biz Stone on the company blog. "Now we’re ready to start trying it on Twitter. The plan is to see how it goes first with this small release. If it needs more work, then we’ll know right away. If things look good, we’ll proceed with releasing the feature in stages eventually arriving at 100%."

If you are a regular Twitter user, it’s pretty much a given that you know what retweeting is, but Stone describes what the button does to those in the dark. "Retweet is a button that makes forwarding a particularly interesting tweet to all your followers very easy," he says. "In turn, we hope interesting, newsworthy, or even just plain funny information will spread quickly through the network making its way efficiently to the people who want or need to know."

The Impact of Retweets

Retweets have already been a great way for content and updates to go viral. Now as the actual feature rolls out, that should only increase. Read this article for a look at the pros and cons of retweets (there are more pros).

Now that retweeting is becoming an actual feature of Twitter, you’re going to want to keep in mind the tweetability of your content. Shéa Bennett, who writes the blog Twittercism, came up with a helpful equation for maximizing retweet potential. We talked about that here, but basically what it boils down to is leaving enough room in a tweet to accommodate what others will add to it as they retweet it.

This means keep titles short (at least in the tweet). For example, if you use some form of "tweet this" button on an article that automatically fills out the Twitter form with the article info, make sure there are not too many characters taken up. As you’re probably aware, Twitter only allows for 140, and that’s not very many. Keep in mind the "RT," hashtags, usernames, etc.

Tweaking Twitter Trends

In another piece of Twitter-related news, the company also announced that it is experimenting with improvements to trends that will help users find more relevant tweets. They say they’re working to show higher quality results for trend queries by returning tweets that are more useful.

"The improvement won’t be very noticeable at first, but this is a small step toward unearthing more value in search and getting you more relevant results," says @JennaDawn.

This means you will probably see less spammy trending topics popping up, which should benefit anyone who follows the trends.

Related Articles:

An Equation for Getting More Traffic from Twitter

Wonder What Percentage of Tweets are Retweets?

More to Retweeting Than Meets the Eye for Businesses?