Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What the Heck are MODified Tweets?

Anyone who has been on Twitter has seen the retweet, or RT, correct?  Simply put, it means sending someone else’s tweet to your followers and giving the originator of the tweet the credit for it. It’s a courtesy of sorts; spreading the word and putting more eyeballs on something interesting.

Now most of us have been making changes to those tweets when retweeted. And that’s okay; everyone does it. Most commonly, we slice back and abbreviate some wording, and perhaps add a little bit of our opinion on the end.

For example, if @hockeyhaha tweeted this: Did you know, for example, that the seven top hockey players of all time were from Ontario Canada? Who would have thought? #hockey

And then you retweeted it, resulting in something like this: RT @hockeyhaha Did you know, that the all time top 7 hockey players were from Ontario Canada? Who would have thought? #hockey –thx for info!

No loss of content there, just some abbreviating, rearranging, and the addition of an opinion. You’ve seen these many times.

However, lately, I’ve been seeing more use of the modified tweet, or MT. Personally, I have never used it nor taught it. Surprisingly, MT has been around for the last couple of years (if not longer). A quick assessment of usage on Twitter reveals that in an hour’s time, MT was used once for every 150 RT’s. That’s not a lot of usage!

So, I’m here to spread the word about it. Should we be using it? And why? This gets a little tricky, and perhaps explains why so few tweeps use it. Rationale to use it would include:

Repurposing the usage of the original tweet
Substantially adding value to the original tweet
Fixing; perhaps the content was incorrect and you are merely setting the record straight? This could be either factual or a typo.
Altering the original tweet beyond a simple abbreviation or dropping a word therefore changing some of the meaning of the original tweet.
Deleting the original hashtag and adding a different one, thus repurposing the audience of the tweet.

Going back to our original tweet example from earlier, an MT could look like any of these:

MT @hockeyhaha Did you know, that the all time top 8 hockey players were from Ontario Canada? Who would have thought? #hockey –thx for info! (correction)

MT @hockeyhaha The all time top 8 hockey players were from Ontario Canada achieved this in the last 30 years. #hockey (added value and correction)

MT @hockeyhaha Did you know, that the all time top 7 hockey players were from Ontario Canada? Who would have thought? #NHL –thx for info! (hashtag change)

It’s becoming obvious as to why the modified tweet isn’t used all that often. It takes a bit of thought...and who has time for all that? The restriction of 140 characters makes it challenging to change a tweet all that much. And, what's the likelihood that you are aware that the original tweet has incorrect information?

Let it be known that modified tweets exist. It’s there for you if you need to use it instead of an RT. Who knew?


Susan said...

Hi Gerry, I'm glad I'm not alone - didn't know about MT until this summer (and I do social a lot!). I think it's useful if you've significantly modified the original tweet (for whatever reason) but as you mentioned so few use it, that very few know what it means... If it doesn't catch on, then it won't serve a true purpose, except to ease the mind of the retweeter by assuring that they've accurately reflected the modified nature of the retweet...

Gerry Wendel said...

Thanks for your comment, Susan. It will catch on if we all start using it; I plan to. Want to start a trend with me?

Anonymous said...

Hi! I use "MT" constantly, whenever I want to retweet and add commentary and need to cut things down a bit. So much of the humor on Twitter derives from wording and even punctuation that I don't trust myself to judge what constitutes a material change to someone else's tweet. So, if I need to cut something down, I'll use virgules and ellipses and then mark it with an "MT". For me, a RT has no changes at all, excepting maybe some commentary before the "RT" (which marks the start of the other person's material). I don't think I'd add anything after the retweeted content, as then it might not be clear who said what.