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Gini Dietrich

When You Fake RT, You ASS-U-ME

By: Gini Dietrich | April 19, 2011 | 
176

In January, Mark Schaefer wrote a blog post called, “Is it OK to fake your tweets?

He begins the post by saying:

“The other day a prominent Twitter celebrity was kind enough to re-tweet one of my blog posts.  It was not Kim Kardashian.  At least that time.  Any way, because of his power and influence, my link was promptly re-tweeted by 12 of his followers.  Wow, that’s influence right?

Only problem is, in that period of time, my server was down. None of them could have possibly read my blog post.

Welcome to the world of fake tweeting.

How often does this happen?

I’m guessing more than we could possibly realize.  How many people are either tweeting without reading … or not even tweeting themselves at all?”

And, of course, he had an image of Kim Kardashian tweeting wonderful things about him that cracked me up.  

My comment on the post was:

You kill me! LOL!! It’s funny. We JUST had this conversation today. Someone was looking at the number of clicks on a certain tweet (112). But when I looked at my analtyics dashboard that our CCO so patiently gives me every day, I noticed only 48 people actually clicked through from the tweet. So 64 people fake tweeted. More than half. Oy vey.

And I went on about my day. But something he said to me in response to my comment (“this sounds like a blog post”) has stuck with me. And it’s begun to grate on my nerves. And not only is it grating on my nerves that people are fake tweeting, but also that they are assuming the content you’re linking to says one thing and tweeting their assumption.

THIS DRIVES ME CRAZY.

If you want to have a Twitter conversation, don’t assume you know what the link is about before you dive in, head first. ESPECIALLY if you think you’re going to debate me. Might want to check the facts first.

Let me give you an example.

Jayme Soulati has made it a goal to redefine the meaning of public relations. She’s been writing about it for months and enlisting help from PR and integrated marketing professionals. She’s even managed to get input from PRSA. I’m fully supportive of these efforts, but think we have a long way to go before it’s redefined and our industry begins to have a better perception.

Because I have a vested interest in seeing her succeed and because well, Spin Sucks, I tweet her blog posts, after I’ve read and commented on them.

For instance:

Should we define PR for fifth graders? by @soulati http://bit.ly/e4gEgW

I got a few retweets on that from people who have actually clicked on the link and read what it’s about. That’s good!

But there were more than five RTs that said things such as:

Why should I care? RT @ginidietrich Should we define PR for fifth graders? by @soulati http://bit.ly/e4gEgW

Which makes it pretty evident you haven’t read the blog post. You’ve just made an assumption and RT’d the link, likely in the hopes of debating me or Jayme.

Or, maybe I’m giving you too much credit and you’re just being lazy and figure it’ll be a good post and you’re adding some value by asking your network a question to perhaps entice them into reading the blog post.

I’m all for a good debate. I love professional discourse. But we all know the definition of ASS-U-ME.

Do yourself a favor. At least click on the link and quickly scan the material before you RT it. You’ll help the blogger’s traffic and you won’t have made an assumption that ends up making you look like a donkey.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

169 comments
Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

I think the whole book reading thing is another topic for us to discuss! I read a TON of books in a sound bite world, but that's because of my personality. I watch little TV so my downtime is spent reading. Joe Thornley talks about this, too, because he loves long form. He thinks it's going to make a comeback.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Great point about the webinar or event someone is promoting. I, also, would cut some slack for those things. It's just the whole blind RT that doesn't drive any traffic, but it sure does drive tweets. Big whoop.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

I don't know that you necessarily have to read the post word for word and comment before you tweet it. But I don't like to RT something without having read it. It's the whole bringing value to my network and my reputation thing.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

I suppose it is, Jon. People will always try to game the system. It's disappointing, but it happens.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

LOL! I didn't mean to make you feel like the picture, Joe! But it is interesting to consider: Should we automatically RT the stuff from people we know and trust, without reading it? And why do they get special consideration when a catchy headline does not? You know where I fall...

BestRoofer
BestRoofer

Great post. I admit it. I have been guilty of this. Sometimes when I have been really busy I will just re-tweet something (if the heading looks good and I value the source). I thought that it was being helpful, but now I feel a little like the picture. I think that there will be more conversation, if I can take the time to read more of the articles and it may make me more valuable as well. THANKS!

jonbuscall
jonbuscall

I wonder if fake re-tweeting is an attempt to generate more followers (rt people you haven't connected yet to encourage the follow).

It's also a way of participating on Twitter without having to really do any work. Not cool, not nice but it's very prevalent.

janwong
janwong

Wow, amazing post with great points! I would think it is weird though - if you were following that person for his / her feeds, why don't you want to click on the content and simple retweet blindly? I mean, it's one thing to click and READ word for word, but it is a whole new thing altogether by doing it blindly. Is it all about 'association' (e.g. i'm so cool cuz i retweeted xxx) or is it just plain laziness? Beats me.

Perhaps someone should do an experiment - put up a tweet with a dummy link and see how many retweets happen.

*shares this article after reading*

DoTime_WX
DoTime_WX

Gini, I was going to retweet this post but.... Actually, whether retweeting or just commenting, it makes sense to know what you're responding to and/or amplifying back to the world. Unfortunately too many choose not to put the time in. That applies to not only tweets, but also the real world.

Natasha_D_G
Natasha_D_G

Funny...You make an excellent point. I think, however, if you "know" the individual you can cut yourself some slack. Sometimes I RT as a show of support for my tweeps. Esp if it's a webinar or an event they're promoting.

markwschaefer
markwschaefer

Hurray for you. What a beautiful post. The gestation period was obviously worth it!

This is a weird connection, but today I was listening to somebody talk about the number of books they read. I thought wow, that just seems so out of sync with the sound bite social media culture. And then I read HR post and thought, wow, perhaps we're in less than a sound bite culture. Maybe we're in a text message culture that will erode to a "!" culture. Vast implications for our world, our companies, our children. What challenges for communications and PR.

Thanks for the superb post, Gini!

TheJackB
TheJackB

I was going to RT this but I haven't had time to read it yet....

KenMueller
KenMueller

Holy Crap! I've just had an epiphany. Remember those old late night TV commercials for those late night telephone party chat lines? That's what Spin Sucks Pro is gonna be. Gini is starting a crazy online party chat forum in the guise of a blog! There might even be a dating service somewhere in there.

Ladies and Gentleman, I tell ya we got trouble. Right here in Spin Sucks City. Trouble with a capital "T" and that rhymes with "G" which stands for Gini....

MackCollier
MackCollier

Hot damn that Gini sure does know how to get a chat party started! ;)

bdorman264
bdorman264

Oops, guilty as charged..............but in my defense it was because I didn't have time to open the link (doing a scroll by on my phone) and in an effort to be incredibly witty and help my buddies out I do it all the time. These are people I 'know' so I'm pretty secure in sending their stuff in my stream.

Everything I do is manual and now that I'm this monster blogger I hardly have time for twitter on some days. Whew, this has been some heavy lifting.

I'm still learning and if I have violated twitter etiquette I will cease and desist immediately.

We don't want Billy boy stinking the place up, do we?

WordsDoneWrite
WordsDoneWrite

Gini, I'm with ya. I don't understand the blind RT. It's your stream. Why would you fill it with links you can't vouch for? I, for one, read (or at a minimum scan) everything I RT.

But, on the flip side, sometimes the blind RT is a compliment. For example, if someone knows you always deliver quality content, I think they'll RT your stuff without looking at it first. Although it would be nice to get the blog hit, I'm equally pleased when someone thinks enough of me to share my stuff without reading it first. I see that as having earned their trust in a lot of ways.

Amber

BethHarte
BethHarte

I just want to kiss that donkey on the lips. ;-)

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

Finally made it here .. sigh. I've called this 'drive by tweeting' and it's always driven me nuts. It's just so fake, like the automated crap. I don't think I tweet a lot of stuff and it's b/c I take the time to read - or at least scan - before I share; not to mention add a little something to make you want to click, read the post. FWIW.

Now to dive into the comments, always the best part. ;-)

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR

Oh, no, I have a confession! Just saw @Shonali RT of @markwschaefer blog post, and she said it was "fab, fab." Well, b/c I hold them both in the higest regard, I did not open and read! This better not have been a set up to something in poor taste, you two!

Todd Lyden
Todd Lyden

I've basically given up on Triberr for this reason- I have NO clue what is going out. While I will use Hootsuite, Timely, and Buffer even to schedule. I promise, I've at least scanned at minimum if not read entirely (which is 90% of the time I'd estimate)

More often than not I will try and use it to create new link and not just RT but making sure I give credit where credit is due.

Too often RT are retreaded RTs and you are really getting something second or third hand

JamesDBurrell2
JamesDBurrell2

I've been guilty of this offense on more than one occasion, but I venture to say that so has everyone else. Allow me to pause for a moment to define the fake tweeting I've done: RT a post by a close friend or twitterleague (twitter + colleague) before reading it simply because I have absolute faith in the content but I do not have the time to presently read the post, but I want to help promote it anyways. I always return to read post that I preemptively RT though.

Playing devil's advocate here: I do understand the rationale to RT without reading a particular post. I do not support the strategy, but I can relate to the desire to feel accepted on Twitter especially when initially engaging in certain communities.

For now, my popularity hides in the obscurity, thus I don't really have to worry about fake RT'ers out there skewing my numbers, but Gini, for your sake as well as others, it seems we are in dire need of a masked vigilante of the interwebs protecting all the innocent bloggers from villainous spammers, faker RT'ers, and drive-by commenters.

KaryD
KaryD

The only time I come close to "fake RT" is when I see someone tweet a link to a post that I already read on my reader and then I RT without clicking the url in the tweet. And, when I do this, I gotta admit that I feel a little dirty. I question - was that a good link? What if there's now a whole slew of comments that have changed the course of the message?

A RT is an endorsement and/or an extension of your name and your brand. I even shy away from the "new" RT's that don't allow me to add context to the tweet.

I've long been a fan of ass-U-me...warms my heart to see it in this context. :-)

michael_taggart
michael_taggart

This is becoming a real problem because of the (perfectly laudable) activity of content curation. The notion that curation is a way to avoid censure in highly regulated industries is gaining traction. I have some financial services clients and some see curation as the innoculation against the trouble content *creation* can bring. There are even books about it. You've probably read one Gini.

So people get into the whole idea that curation can help them achieve their community management goals and then, one day, they think "hey, I could save a lot of time by bringing this stuff to my community without wasting time reading it."

I reckon people who regularly cut corners like that - in the end - will get found out. When you game the system to the extent that it's an actual strategy, you'll get caught and pay the consequences.

Incidentally, I believe that - if you have time - you should scan the comments beneath any blog before commenting to make sure you are adding to the community and that what you want to say doesn't miss a related debate that's raging in the comments or repeat a point that's been made lots of times already.

Thoughtful stuff Gini.

Michael

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@jonbuscall I'm sure that's part of some people's strategies, but per Gini's example... it kinda backfires when they've not read the post, RT out of context.

Shonali
Shonali

@Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing LOL, I just saw that, and then this comment. Can I say ROFL?! :p And thank you for the kind words.

I think it's a little of everything, and along the lines of what @MackCollier said earlier (hi, Mack!). When you trust someone, you feel better if you RT them even without clicking through. That's why I'm ok with the current Triberr tribe I'm in; because I know what's going out through there is 99% good (there's always the 1% chance it isn't, regardless of who it is), so I don't mind those "auto" tweets going out.

What I try to be careful of, though, and why I disliked Twitter changing the RT format a while ago so that you couldn't add any commentary, is a plain RT (if you remember, I didn't just RT Mark's post, I added my opinion and scratched the "RT" part of it. Yes, it's true that I did schedule this particular tweet, but I'd read Mark's post (and commented), so I felt good doing that. See, @ginidietrich , I'm trying to do better already!

No set up. I promise. At least, not by me. :p

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@faybiz Curious about scheduling via Buffer, if it does make it easier, faster, more efficient? And I agree on the 'giving credit' often try to find at least the post author if no one else.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@faybiz Except...Triberr has changed and you can now schedule the tweets AFTER you've read them.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@JamesDBurrell2 Not to mention porn hucksters, iPad scammers and knock off Viagra sales hacks. Only genuine, quality Viagra for this Twitterleague, damnit! ;-)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@KaryD But that's different - you've already read the post and feel comfortable in sharing the content. And thank you! I've seen a few people delete the hyphens when they RT it, which I think is actually awesome because they're living the no swearing mantra on Twitter.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@michael_taggart There are so many reasons I like you, but this comment definitely is near the top of the list! If you game the system, if you take short cuts, if you fake it til you make it (as @C_Pappas says), you will be found out!

Todd Lyden
Todd Lyden

@3HatsComm @faybiz In terms of keeping a stream going, why not? they keep adding functionality to Buffer including this:

http://blog.bufferapp.com/add-to-buffer-from-your-mobile

I get what people are saying about not RT or sending out things when you are not on, but does that mean your stream just dies? I try to put out things I like, conversation or not. I with most folks who want to have Tweets at virtually any time- I will say since doing more "afterhours" my Russian followers has skyrocketed... is that a good thing?

KaryD
KaryD

I agree that it's different, but you raised a good point about clicking so that the blogger gets the traffic. Made me think twice. As always.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@faybiz The Russian market is something I should look into, that's for sure. Though I hear tell there's some money for me in a Nigerian bank somewhere. No 24/7 tweeting for me, my stream takes naps, showers, lunch breaks, even some quality DVR time. How I roll. ;-)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@faybiz Yeah...they had the links mixed up on Sunday. They fixed it. Really quickly. I guess, if you're in a beta test, you have to be willing to let them make mistakes and fix things. I'm pretty patient with that stuff because we're about to go through the same thing and I want people to be patient!

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