Do You Retweet or Re-Tweet?

Here's the Difference in Terms

Twitter on iPad
Twitter. Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

Question:

When sharing a message, is it a retweet or a re-Tweet?

Answer:

The fundamental difference between a retweet and a re-Tweet is more than just a hyphen. If Twitter had a dictionary, they'd have completely different definitions too.

Whether you're a blogger looking for right iteration of the word, or a Twitter user who just wants to know the difference, it's good to know that these two words are two completely different things.

One shares your content, the other shares that of someone else.

A retweet is an integral function of Twitter. It was once jargon used by Twitter users and is now a permanent action in the Twitter interface.

To retweet is to re-post what someone else tweets. Before Twitter built the functionality into Twitter, users would manually retweet by adding the letters RT into their message.

The reason why someone would retweet is to share something they think is worth re-sharing with their own followers. It might be an article or a good quote. The retweet always includes the @ username of the person who originally Tweeted it, so credit isn't lost. When the message has been truncated to fit 140 characters, as it often needs to be, the retweeter may change their RT to an MT, which stands for "modified tweet".

Here are a couple examples of manually written retweets:

  • I loved this article! RT @username Here are ten ways to know the difference between retweeting and re-tweeting http://www.shorturl.com
  • Right on! RT "Make every detail perfect, and limit the number of details to perfect." - @jack

To re-Tweet is simply to recycle your own message. There is no associated Twitter button or a special way to do it; it's just a way to define which version of the jargon requires a hyphen.

For example, many of my clients post several articles per week on their blogs.

When I schedule the tweets that promote those articles ahead of time, I'll use Hootsuite to Tweet one day and then I'll use it to schedule and re-Tweet that same message next week, next month, and then again in three months. This increases the longevity of the post by making sure it pops up in their feed for more than one day. Not everyone will be looking when the first tweet goes out. And within just a few minutes, that first pass will be the past, buried under dozens or scores of other tweets.

One final difference is that "retweet" does not need to be capitalized because Twitter doesn't capitalize it in any of their documentation. They do however ask you to capitalize the word "Tweet", so according to these rules, you'd capitalize the T in re-Tweet.