What Do You Do When Someone Retweets You?

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retweeting on Twitter
When you’re getting started on Twitter, your first goal is to attract followers. After all, what’s the good of saying brilliant things if no one is listening? What’s just as exciting as getting your first few followers is the first time someone likes one of your tweets enough to pass it on to their followers in the form of a retweet.

Being retweeted is a great ego boost, but there are much greater benefits than that. For one thing, a retweet confirms that what you’ve said is interesting or valuable to someone else and gives you an indication of the type of tweets you should continue to post. Even better, when your message is retweeted, your audience is no longer restricted to your own followers, but opens up to include the followers of the person who posted the retweet.

With each person who reads your retweeted message, there’s the possibility that they’ll decide to follow you as well, to click through to your website, or to subscribe to your blog. Any of these actions may ultimately lead to product sales or other business opportunities. Some of those people may decide to retweet the message as well, expanding your reach even farther – an excellent example of viral marketing at work.

If you have good manners, and I’m sure you do, you’ll want to thank your retweeters for sharing your message with their network. There are many different opinions about the best way to do that.

I recently read a post by Shea Bennett, Co-editor of AllTwitter: The Unofficial Twitter Resource on this very topic. In response to the question, Should You Thank For Retweets?, he says

No. Almost never, in fact. With a few exceptions, I don’t believe there’s any need to thank for retweets at all. It might seem polite, or good etiquette, but all it really does is add a lot of unwanted noise to the stream.

I’d never thought of it in those terms before, but it made a lot of sense. We already expend a fair bit of time and effort filtering through clutter on Twitter. Does anyone really benefit from reading our “thanks for the retweet” messages, other than the recipient? I decided to retweet his post, in which he suggests that thanks should be sent privately by direct message, if at all. In response, I received an interesting email from one of my clients, who told me she’s received nasty messages from more than one person to whom she’d sent a private thank-you. They seemed to believe that by thanking them privately, she was depriving them of valuable exposure they’d have received if she’d thanked them publicly.

I was astounded. If someone complained that they didn’t like the way I thanked them, I probably wouldn’t thank them at all next time – and they probably wouldn’t notice, because who keeps track of whether or not they’ve been thanked for retweeting something? It sure doesn’t sound like anyone I want in my network! And seriously – do they really think that “@apersonontwitter Thanks for the retweet” is going to make even one person say “Hey, I want to follow @apersonontwitter”?

With Twitter, there are no hard and fast rules about anything – each user develops strategies that work best for them, including whether or not they acknowledge retweets and the way they do it. And fortunately, there are lots more ways to express your appreciation than merely saying thanks, whether in the public stream or by direct message. Angie Schottmuller wrote an excellent post where she outlines 7 Ways to Thank Someone for a Retweet that really opened my eyes to the possibilities and has begun to shape the way I approach this important part of online networking. Yes, it takes more time to be creative than it does to simply post “@personontwitter Thanks for the retweet” but like most things in business (and in life), the more you put into something, the more you’ll get out of it.

Read my other posts about Twitter for more tips and action steps to help you leverage the power of Twitter to grow your professional network and market your organizing business.

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Janet Barclay

A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

Join the Conversation


  1. Avatar Julia Wooster on January 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    I guess you could probably send a DM with your thank you. Maybe it’s because we’re Canadian and so polite that we feel we have to thank people for RTs. What do you think?

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on January 13, 2012 at 6:23 am

      Many of the people I see who post Thanks for RTs @person1 @person2 @person3 etc. are not Canadian, so I don’t think that’s it. 🙂

      Since I read the two articles mentioned in my post, I’ve made a sincere effort to reciprocate, rather than say thank you to someone who retweets me. However, with some people it’s hard to find anything in their stream worth retweeting and it’s hard to know what to do in those cases.

  2. Avatar Ruth Maude on May 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Hi Janet,

    I think if you want to thank people for RT’s then do one tweet to thank everyone at once for all the RT’s. I’m with Shea Bennett the stream is noisy enough with everyone checking in and telling me they are the mayor of some place.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 8, 2012 at 7:23 am

      I agree that if you’re going to say thank you, it’s better to do it all in one tweet than to send out a stream of thank-yous, but I think Angie Schottmuller’s suggestions provide more value, not only to the person receiving the thanks, but to everyone else who is following.

  3. Linda Samuels Linda Samuels on May 7, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Hi Janet,

    This was a useful post about retweeting. I also read Angie’s article that you linked to. These are interesting concepts to consider. I certainly like the idea of thanking people, but don’t like the idea of adding clutter to the Twitter streams. Currently, I thank people in a variety of ways by thanking individually, group thanking (for RTs of the day), RTing their tweets, or mentioning them. But mostly, the idea is developing a rapport, conversation & relationship. I try to focus that mostly on valuable content. This is all good food for thought. Thank you for helping me to rethink my Twitter ways.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 8, 2012 at 7:27 am

      Linda, you are one of the most engaging people I know on Twitter – but it’s always good to consider different approaches! Angie’s article really changed the way I think about retweeting. 🙂

      • Linda Samuels Linda Samuels on May 8, 2012 at 9:30 am

        Yes. It kind of stifled me yesterday. I became hesitant to thank and respond like I normally do. Need to mull this over a bit more, but definitely think there’s validity to reducing the Twitter clutter & making the interactions as meaningful & valuable as possible for all.

        So what you do you think of group thanking for RTs, MTs & FFs?

        • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 8, 2012 at 10:38 am

          It had a similar effect on me. It was just so automatic to click Reply and send a thank you message!

          I’m not really a big fan of group tweets of any type. Although it’s nice to be recognized, being included in a list just doesn’t have the same impact as a personal message that continues the conversation or provides value in some other way.

          It does get challenging sometimes, such as when one of your tweets gets a LOT of attention, but I think it’s worth the effort to respond to each one in a meaningful way, even if you can’t do it immediately.

          • Linda Samuels Linda Samuels on May 8, 2012 at 10:46 am

            Appreciate your perspective, Janet. Good thoughts for the week.

  4. Hazel Thornton Hazel Thornton on May 9, 2015 at 8:42 am

    I am always relieved to know when there is no hard and fast rule, and that I am not necessarily doing it wrong! One reason I don’t thank is that I’m still a little Twitter-tech challenged between the way it works on my desktop v my phone, and between the app and email notifications. But I do sometimes RT RTs (depends on what it is, of course), and sometimes follow back, and sometimes reciprocate, and sometimes favorite.

  5. Avatar Jill Robson on May 9, 2015 at 11:56 am

    I have had that dilemma lately, I usually thank someone if they share something of mine, but not if they RT. I still don’t know if it is ok to RT what someone has already RT of your posts, if that makes sense. As you can tell I am still on a learning curve with twitter.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 9, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      I know what you mean. I see a lot of people who RT when someone RTs them, but that seems pretty self-serving in most cases: “Look everyone! So-and-so thought my tweet was worth re-tweeting!” That’s why I’d rather RT something else they’ve posted – that way it’s about them, not me, and it shows I took the time to see what they were tweeting about instead of just automatically retweeting every post that mentions me.

  6. Avatar Sarah Soboleski on May 9, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Such an interesting post! I love all the different viewpoints you covered on the RT issue. It seems to me it really comes down to courtesy and personal preference. I tend to err on the side of thanking for everything and so far it hasn’t proved problematic!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 9, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      One change that’s taken place since I wrote this post is that Replies no longer show up on your main profile page, so that helps a bit. At least if someone goes to your profile to see what you tweet about, they don’t just see a bunch of @person1 thanks for the RT, @person2 thanks for the RT, etc. You want to be courteous to the person who retweeted you, but also to your other followers.

  7. Avatar Sabrina Q. on May 9, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I like to reciprocate by sharing other’s posts as well as saying thank you.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on May 10, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Sabrina!

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