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August 15, 2011

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Volkan

Sure! And every ad should have at the end the phrase "Please buy me!".

Joel Capperella

It feels a little unnatural for me to type in 'please rt' in a tweet, but the numbers are compelling. And Dan has a point that at least to a degree we ought to concern ourselves with numbers. One could argue that the act of asking for the RT delivers another opportunity to engage with your network on twitter. After all if some one I don't follow has offered an RT of content I shared I now have an opportunity to introduce myself to them, ask them what they found interesting, see what they are all about and maybe even learn something new about my audience that I otherwise would not have had the chance to learn.

Stuartbruce

It depends. If it is an 'altruistic' tweet or is somehow for the public good then I think Please RT is valid, but used sparingly. If it is just about personal gain/profile or if it is done frequently then it is just tacky.

Michelle Gillied

I seldom ask for a retweet. I reserve the "ask" for something that really is important to me. Then again, I seldom get retweeted or shared or even followed on g+. So maybe I should rethink my strategy and/or content.

Scott Johnston

Interesting!! I'm going with David's gut feeling. I really like his idea about DM'ing someone to ask them to consider re-tweeting. I'm not asking people to retweet (yet), but this is exactly the debate I needed to see. Thanks for posting this great video!!

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for jumping in.

@Volkan Indeed. Ego seems to rule.

Even after the compelling evidence from @Dan, like @Joel, it still feels unnatural for me to ask.

Interesting point @Stuartbruce on a "public good" tweet. However I am not a fan of people aggressively plugging their favorite charity, so care must be taken here too.

@Michelle -- sounds like you should try it.

Glad you liked it @Scott.

Richard Jurek

I understand the science, but the fact of asking (begging?) to be re-tweeted, strikes me as unnatural as it does you, David -- a bit too need, a bit too desperate. If content is king, and it is, the inherent value of your content should prompt others to organically want to share it -- the whole point, in my mind, to social media. If you have to Tell People To Share It, then they most likely don't get the point to social media....or your message is off point...or maybe it wasn't worth sharing to begin with. Not a big fan of begging -- although, a call to action does have it place, in my mind, like @Stuartbruce points out, for altruistic reasons. In the end, for me, begging for a re-tweet is kind of like putting down "please call me" after your phone number on a business card...it just doesn't strike me as necessary. I'll call you if I have a need or want to...and I'll re-tweet a message if I think those that follow me will find it of equal interest as I did. (Again, all the science aside.) But if I did fee inclinded to ask for a re-tweet, I'd probably save myself a few characters and only put down "pls RT" -- that would save a precious 3 whole characters... :)

twitter.com/WritersKitchen

Over and over again we see research telling us that "please RT" gets more RTs. But it still seems...lame. I'm not comfortable asking for RTs. Exceptions: For a lost child or pet, disaster info and, occasionally, for an NGO or charity.

Kathy Lisiewicz

I've tried it a few times, but I don't see that it changes anything. I'd rather have those characters for content.

Chuck Jones

David, I agree with you on this. I re-tweet based on whether I see value for others. Many times the "please re-tweet" comes across as too self-serving with no value except for the tweeter. Dan looks at this from the "numbers" but from a business perspective business includes perceptions and reputation not just the numbers.

Kayross

I say no. My feeling is that if people find your tweet interesting/relevant/useful/funny, they WILL RT it, whether or not you ask them to. So asking them to feels desperate (and a waste of valuable characters).

Dave Ashworth

I don't, I don't thank for RTs either or ask celebrity's specifcially for one, or do friday follows

I don't promise to follow back in my bio, or expect anyone to follow me because I follow them

I sort of just get on with it

good content will find it's way around

twitter.com/markpack

I think context is important - "please RT" in some cases can be short-hand for "this is useful information, so please pass it on", "this is vital information for some people, so please pass it on" or "I really need to know the answer to this, so please pass it on".

In those cases, I think the qualitative impression that it leaves is fine and in some cases is even positive.

Kate Bevan

I never RT on demand - I wrote a long post on this very subject last year and my view remains the same http://goo.gl/9R0Uf.

I pass on stuff that *I* think has value or is funny or is otherwise worth passing on. I hate being asked, or worse, begged or ordered to RT and I never ask for RTs.

Right now I'm helping raise money for a friend who was burned out of his flat during the riots in London; I've tweeted the link a few times and some very kind people have passed it on. I didn't and wouldn't ask for even something like that to be RTd: I trust other people to make judgments about what's relevant/valuable/interesting to their followers. It's not up to me to make that judgment call.

And if you're remotely high-profile you get *loads* of requests. I've unfollowed a few well-known people because they're always RTing and it makes me think that a) they can't possibly verify every request and b) they're pretty undiscriminating. It makes me think they're not doing a basic quality-control and the result from someone who just RTs everything they're asked to is quite close to spam.

Each to their own, of course - Twitter is what you make it. But that approach works for me.

David Meerman Scott

Great debate here. Thanks!

BTW -- the relative ratio of comments is similar over on the HuSpot blog (where Dan works).
http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/22409/Should-You-Add-Please-Retweet-to-Your-Twitter-Updates-Debate.aspx

@markpack -- interesting take -- "please RT" in some cases can be short-hand for "this is useful information, so please pass it on", "this is vital information for some people, so please pass it on" or "I really need to know the answer to this, so please pass it on".

Pamela Atherton

I agree that if content is good, others will choose to retweet. How many GOOD followers are you annoying with your constant requests, versus the NEWBIES who need to know to retweet?

I think we should consider who we wish to speak to, and craft our tweets to them.

Jon DiPietro

I'm with you, David. First of all, Dan's data is not scientific because they're not designed experiments. Instead, he's drawing conclusions from statistical observations, which he says correlate. Even if they do, that does not mean they are causal. But for the purposes of this conversation, let's assume that it's accurate.

My next question is, "So what?" If someone re-tweets because you ask and not because they're compelled to do so, I would consider that a weaker endorsement. It's entirely possible that they never even read your content. So do these extra re-tweets actually result in more traffic? And more importantly, how well does that extra traffic convert? My guess is that it's of a lower quality and won't convert as well.

What also can't be measured are the negative effects from this. If some of your followers feel insulted by the request or think that it makes you look desperate, are you losing higher quality re-tweets? Or worse, are you losing followers?

So we don't know whether or not the extra traffic converts and don't know whether there are any negative effects and can't measure any of this (without designed experiments). For my money, I'm willing to sacrifice the extra re-tweets and trade quality for quantity.

Chase Sherman

Data certainly helps in decision making but shouldn't give us reason to avoid doing things 'outside of the box.' For example, how do we reason the fact that many entrepreneurs have succeeded in the face of strong opposition (much of which was stooped in statistical 'data') They stuck it out with their gut feelings to make those decisions.

That being said, I do see many "Please RT" messages attached to job offerings from people looking to fill spots within a company and it seems to work pretty well :)

 outdoor playground equipment

I didn't and wouldn't ask for even something like that to be RTd: I trust other people to make judgments about what's relevant valuable interesting to their followers. It's not up to me to make that judgment call...I've tried it a few times, but I don't see that it changes anything. I'd rather have those characters for content...

David Meerman Scott

Pamela and Jon - excellent points on the potential negative sites. You may get a few more RTs, but you also may get people unfollowing you or taking your stuff less seriously.

Chase - yeah, I do think certain things that are not considered overly self serving can safely have a "please RT" attached.

krysia

I side with you, I never ask for an RT. Many of my Tweeps RT my updates, but it is up to them. You mentioned, it takes the ability to chose what you think is relevant/valuable out of the equation and it seems desperate. I agree!

In the beginning I made some mistakes by calling out to specific followers something I thought they would like, or something I was proud of, but I have learned that is just trying to hard and works against social media's principals of not hard-selling.

John Pohl

Great idea to share a healthy debate between two of the planet's leading authorities on the topic.

My approach: Don't do "Please RT" if it comes off as self-serving, but do it if your tweet is calling attention to someone else or a worthy cause.

Bob Apollo

I suspect I'm with the majority on this: never ask for a retweet for anything that is primarily designed (even if wrapped up in faux altruism) to further your own interests in any way. Use it very sparingly only when there is a compelling cause that needs to be promoted, and think twice before even doing that.

I think this is one of those instances where, no matter what the data tells you, it's better to do what feels right.

Techguerilla

David,
Like most of Dan's data it is 100% accurate...and yet virtually meaningless. Quantitative statistics like these only serve to *ask* questions, but do not actually provide answers. They can only measure 'what was' not 'what will be' as there is nothing predictive about them, yet they are typically positioned as something that you should do so that you can get similar results.

Meaningful data would do the hard work of following actions all the way through the funnel instead of the easy work of simple statistics on collected data. The implication here is that getting a retweet, for any reason, has an inherent value. Reach without context or purpose has no value. Consider if I get 100 RT's of a link that sends you to a virus laden site, or I get 10 RT's of a link that sends you to something of value...which helped my brand more? which hurt it?

Parsing raw statistics and treating them as predictive indicators irregardless of context or intent is ridiculous, it's just unfortunate that it gets packaged in such a way that the masses believe it is meaningful. The notion that a webinar based on this approach (somehow called 'science') is under consideration for a Guiness record is proof enough that we are easily lulled into taking the road most traveled, even if it may lead us somewhere we don't want to go, rather than do any real work mapping out a path that leads to our desired destination.

Dragan Mestrovic

Corey Rudl once said: On the web people do what you tell them to do! When tell them nothing they exactly do that. So tell them what you want them to do.

I follow this good advice and I add “please share” or “please retweet”.

doral real estate

They can only measure 'what was' not 'what will be' as there is nothing predictive about them, yet they are typically positioned as something that you should do so that you can get similar results.I think we should consider who we wish to speak to, and craft our tweets to them.

Martijen

Aside from all the good theoretical/behavioral arguments, I'm with Kate on practicality. "Please" adds an additional six characters to a tweet and "pls" adds three. That, in addition to the fact that it seems superfluous (and a bit like begging), places me among the naysayers.

Don Walsh

How would you gauge the relevant importance or trends in the twitter-verse if you knew that a percentage of the RT's were the result of a request vs. the result of valuable information that should be shared?

Personally, I think "Please RT" defeats the purpose of RT. Good content is naturally shared. Bad content isn't.

David Meerman Scott

This thread is terrific. I really appreciate everyone jumping in. A true crowdsourced discussion.

Paul

I sat in on one of Dan's social media "science" presentations, and was thoroughly disgusted with the poorly thought out conclusions offered as "best practices" based on highly questionable data badly misinterpreted. I don't know whether Dan has any statistics training, but I would have failed him in any data analytics or social science class that I taught. This is the worst kind of junk science, and I find Dan's data often supports the opposite conclusion as well as the one that he suggests.

But, suppose for a second that he is correct. What is the value of the larger number of RTs that supposedly result from asking for it?

The data hasn't been segmented and understood well enough to answer this question, but my gut tells me that intelligent, thinking people seeing a please RT will generally act with revulsion, like most of the commenters here. Even if they might have RT'd, the desperate plea to do so is highly likely to result in the opposite -- i.e. they take it as a signal or reason not to. That further suggests that the people you lose are the respected, influential thought leaders. Would you rather have @DMScott or @BHalligan or @marissamayer RT you, or 50 others that no one has heard of? Ideally you'd want both, but it's clear that quality matters.

What you have from Dan's raw numbers is not a conclusion to be acted on, but a theory to be tested. Before anyone presents a conclusion, or even a correlation based on the data, it needs to be tested and measured scientifically, for both positives and negatives, because I think as many others have pointed out here, the net result is quite likely a negative one when the results are summed and qualitative factors are considered. The fact that so many of us react so strongly negatively minimally suggests that there is high risk attached to using "please RT", and it should be done cautiously, or when you truly are desperate (trying to find your lost puppy, raising money for disaster victims). In any commercial context, it's beyond unseemly.

One factor that should be examined is whether the data bifurcates. In other words, if I'm aiming down-market, is there greater value than when aiming up-market? Or, stated differently, there are many tacky things that a segment of the population happily does and enjoys (e.g. watching Jerry Springer). I suspect that if your ideal target market is people like that, the data may skew in a completely opposite direction to those who comment here.

Regardless, even if after proper scientific testing, the properly analyzed data still bears out Dan's conclusion, it wouldn't matter to me. I would not change my behavior and start asking for tetweets, because it still wouldn't feel right to me. Integrity is too important, and I'd rather have a lower data point that I was proud of.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for jumping in Paul. I'm planning on attending Dan's "Science of Social Media" webinar next week so I can draw my own conclusions.

However, you bring up a good point. The fact that asking for "please RT" generates a few more re-tweets doesn't automatically make it right. Think about a company with a large email list. They could send a bunch of overt sales messages every day and they may make some sales. But they'd also need to consider how many people unsubscribed.

Alan Edwards

Retweet for business to business is most likely akin to begging. However, statistics show that users of social media are likely to follow friends recommendation when it comes to buying goods and service

From a piece I recently wrote for WriterAccess (an IdeaLaunch company) is the following:


A survey conducted by Morpace, a full-service survey research company headquartered in Farmington Hills, MI confirmed the Chadwick Martin Bailey findings. Following are their findings about why US Facebook users join fan pages:

41 percent - to let my friends know what products I support
37 percent - To receive coupons and discount offers
35 percent - To stay current on available new products
31 percent - To learn more about the company/organization
28 percent - To meet with people who have interests similar to mine

Although this study was FB specific, it suggest that retweeting offers for goods and services on a business to consumer level is probably a good ides.

Alan

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for sharing the data Alan. Interesting.

richarwilliam45@hotmail.com

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