Is It Time To Abolish the Twitter Retweet Button?

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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 Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

8 thoughts on “Is It Time To Abolish the Twitter Retweet Button?

  1. Neicolec

    I don’t think I want to see RT eliminated, but I certainly agree with you on a lot of the issues. That was part of the inspiration for CurateXpress, to encourage better sharing.

  2. jonbuscall

    Interesting perspective, Stan. I think I agree to a certain extent but the bazillion RTs on a button would be missed by many as it’s a snappy indication of social proof.

    CurateExpress by neicolec is a great alternative.

  3. Pingback: Before You Hit The Retweet Button - Here Are Some Important Things To Consider | Event Marketing with Social Media |

  4. Pingback: Is It Time To Abolish the Twitter Retweet Button? | @PushingSocial | Online-Communities |

  5. Jordan_Keats

    Hey Stanford,

    Hasn’t Twitter killed the RT button already? With the last update the tab called “Retweets” didn’t make the cut. That was a super useful feature to crowdsource content by seeing “Retweets by others”, and organize your Thank-you “gratitweets” (gratitude+tweet) by seeing “Your tweets Retweeted”. I loved those tabs way more than Activity, Interactions, or Discover tabs from this most recent update. However, I love how the new Activity tab shows “Favorited” tweets. Very awesome, and it’s only a matter of time until we all get used to the New Twitter.

    The politics of the RT sure gets me worked up, and we never even mentioned Triberr! Thanks for stoking my passion!


  6. ColinWalker

    An interesting proposal but could nit he opposite occur: because you are removing a simple means of passing on information to followers how many folks will actually take the time to do it manually?

    Perhaps there could be a compromise where you can “retweet” but only the link will be included and you cannot hit submit until you’ve typed something else. Don’t know how it would work unless it was done as a form separating the URL from your comment.

    You’ve got me thinking now.

  7. ShakirahDawud

    I have a policy not to retweet anything i haven’t read. Even if I know posts from a particular blog are usually consistent in terms of quality and content, I like to know what it is I’ve shared so I can talk about it, get ideas from it, or engage the blogger with a comment or tweet. It’s time consuming and it means I’m spread pretty thin, but it’s worth my piece of mind and maintianing my relationships–with bloggers I respect and my connections and followers.

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