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Is It Time To Abolish the Twitter Retweet Button?

What if Twitter decided to kill the ubiquitous retweet button?

Would it be Twittergeddon? Would the social web grind to a halt? As a ardent and habitual retweeter I cringe at the thought of losing my beloved RT. Deep down, however, I wonder if a no retweet diet would make for better blogging and content curation.

Power twitter users already implore tweetchat participants to lay off the RT button. Nothing spoils a good conversation like the sycophant in the corner who keeps shouting “I agree!” On the other end of the spectrum, we have the +100 RT disciples who find the RT button inadequate for their needs.

Although social content creators and curators love the RT “at a boy” we wonder if the feedback is genuine or simply obligatory. With so much doubt and baggage, maybe Mr. Dorsey and his Twitter crew should reconsider the RT again.

Instead of a cosmetic change, how about just killing the button?

Specifically, bloggers and site owners wouldn’t be able to put the button alongside their content, however the retweet function would still work within Twitter clients like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite and the site.

Without the retweet button, users would have to visit the blog, grab the URL, and write their own tweet. It would take longer but maybe the benefits would outweigh the inconvenience.

Consider these benefits:

Real Curation

A missing retweet button would compel the curator to visit the site and physically view the post they are sharing. While I have a list of people who I automatically retweet, I’ve discovered that I miss the process of visiting their sites and spending time with their content. Without a retweet button, I would visit less sites but the quality of my interactionwould increase.

Inspired Editorial

If a person goes through the trouble of visiting a site, copying a URL, and retyping a title, it’s very likely that sharers will add a bit of editorial with their tweets. This editorial would add value to the tweet and give their followers a reason to visit the site. This behavioral change alone would exponentially increase the volume of microblogging.

Higher Quality Twitter Followings

Followers will get a true look at the curating skills of the people they follow. They will be able to make a smart decision about who adds the most value. Reviewing a person’s tweets would reveal far fewer links and more substantive viewpoints and perspectives. As a result, people would make their “following” decision based on richer information.

Better Quality of Blog Posts

More eyeballs on posts will lead to better criticism of content. The fundamentals of building a post will grow in importance as writers fight to attract and keep readers. Simple list posts won’t cut it any longer. Since readers will have to work to share, we will need to deliver epic value for them to take the extra time to share us. I suspect that many readers will spend more time commenting than retweeting since comments would be the most convenient way to show support.

Do We Need A Little Tough Love?

I’m not advocating that Twitter scrap the retweet button but this thought experiment is intriguing.

If anything, it reminds us that curation is more than clicking a button. It requires attention to detail and delivering value. I wonder what would happen if content marketers and curators would implement a self-imposed retweet button boycott. Go back to the old-school and spend time with every blog post and craft every retweet. What would change?

What do you think?

(image by: Nicola)


About Stan

Stan Smith is the CEO of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

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