New Twitter RT Link: Use Caution

Update: New Post, 19 November – Caution Still Advised

For those of you who are in the Twitter “retweet” beta test, I have a word of advice: proceed cautiously.

Here’s why. Currently, retweets that are executed via the Twitter web “retweet link” are visible to your followers who are using the web interface to read your tweets but are not visible to popular third party clients.

Let me say that a different way: popular third party applications are currently not displaying RTs executed via the Twitter web interface “retweet” link. In other words, these retweets are MIA in a follower’s timeline in popular third-party clients. The exception: Tweetie2.

This may be a “cart before the horse” problem. In other words, third party applications may not have had a chance to integrate the new API. Or it may be that Twitter privileged Tweetie2 developers. I don’t know.

But if most of your followers read your tweets using third party desktop clients, this “bug” could have a serious impact on your personal retweet rate in the short-term. Experiment wisely. And mindfully.

The Story In Pictures

People who are part of the beta test will see a familiar-looking “alert” on their Twitter home page:

twitter retweet alert message for beta test
Twitter Alert Shows You Are In Beta Test

Sending A Retweet With The New Feature

Twitter has made it very easy to send a retweet via the web interface. This may be an attempt to make the web interface a more pleasant experience for people who follow a lot of accounts. Certainly, the ability to easily retweet has been a mainstay of third-party Twitter clients.

(1) Read your tweets via the web interface. When you find a tweet that seems interesting enough to share with your followers, mouse-over. You’ll see the “retweet” link to the right of the familiar “reply” link.

twitter retweet icon-link
Twitter Retweet Link – Web Interface

(2) After you retweet, this is what the tweet looks like from your home page: it bears the avatar of the original account (instead of your avatar) and includes information about who retweeted it as a tagline. Thus, this new feature might make it easier to discover interesting people to follow.

new retweet in timeline
The Result from the web: New Twitter retweet shows the originating avatar, which may not be an account you follow.


traditional retweet appearance
Traditional Retweet: You see the avatar of person you follow who sent the RT

(3) On your profile page, the visual difference starts with an icon instead of initials (RT). Again, the Twitter ID that shows is the original author, not the person who retweeted. Note that there is an “undo” option. I haven’t tested it to see how long this “delete” feature takes.

new tweet feature in your profile
The Difference In Appearance On Your Profile Page

(4) In addition, Twitter tells you how many other people have retweeted a specific tweet. That’s an incentive, of sorts, to use the new feature.

Twitter shows you how many others have RTed the same tweet.

Receiving A Retweet With The New Feature

If you are in the beta test, when you receive a retweet from someone else in the beta-test, you’ll see an alert when you are reading your tweets from the web. But if you aren’t reading them from the web, you won’t see those retweets in Seesmic, Tweetdeck or TwitBirdPro.

(1) If you are in the beta test, Twitter gives you a heads-up to explain why you are seeing a new avatar in your timeline. This is a smart move for the part of the Twitter community that follows a small-ish number of accounts; for them, the new avatar might be visually jarring.

new retweet - alert
Twitter Alert For New Retweet

(2) If you are not in the beta test, your retweets look exactly like they always have, in the web interface. (This is how my “new retweet” tweet looks in my kegill_uw account. Yes, I follow myself there.)

new retweet - no change
For Non-Beta Testers, No Change In Web Retweet Appearance

(3) However, the problem comes for your followers who do not use the web to read your Tweets. The Twitter-powered retweet simply falls into a black hole.

First, see the Barbara Clements retweet in context (the tweets before and after it, web interface). Then look at Seemsic, from the desktop, and Tweetdeck and TwitBirdPro, from the iPhone. Notice that the Barbara Clements retweet is MIA in all three instances.

The New Retreet In Context (Tweets Surrounding It)
The Retweet Does Not Show Up In SeesmicDesktop
The Retweet Does Not Show Up In Tweetdeck
The Retweet Does Not Show Up In TwitBirdPro

(4) One exception appears to be Tweetie2. My @romensko retweet from the new interface does show up in my kegill_uw account in Tweetie2, just like it did on the web interface.

Tweetie2 Shows The New Retweets

So there you have it.

Be judicious in your use of the new retweet link if you think most of your followers read your tweets from a third party client, unless that client is Tweetie2. I’ll update this post as I test more clients.

Update: 10.30 pm Saturday
Here is the “base” tweet we’re looking for:

another test of new retweet
Another Test: New Retweet

And how that retweet “looks” at the kegill_uw account, in context:

The retweet in context.
Retweet in context at @kegill_uw.

(1) No Go: Twitscoop:

Twitscoop does not display retweets from beta interface.
Twitscoop does not display retweets from beta interface.

(2) No Go: Twitterrific:

twitterrific does not display new RTs
Twitterrific does not display retweets from beta interface.

(3) No Go: TwitBirdPro
There was an update for this application at the iTunes store, but it didn’t enable this functionality.

TwitBirdPro does not display retweets from beta interface.

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

11 replies on “New Twitter RT Link: Use Caution”

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