A few days ago I was looking over my recent Tweets to find a link to a story I know I’d seen recently and wanted to reference. As I was doing so I realized almost all my updates were either 1) My own posts, either with links or just random thoughts/asides or 2) Quote RTs, where I’m adding my own commentary to what someone else has posted.
That felt kind of wrong as I looked at it. It felt egotistical. It felt self-aggrandizing. Anyone who knows me knows that presenting myself as the end-all-be-all like that isn’t something I’m super-comfortable with.
There’s a bit of debate about how good a user experience the Quote RT format on Twitter is. On the one hand, you’re still amplifying someone else and showing off their update. On the other, you’re implying on some level that your own thoughts are superior and that the original should be subordinated.
To date I’ve been a fan of the Quote RT format. I kind of see it as the new version of writing a blog post that links to someone else’s original, adding your own thoughts and perspective in your new post. I want to show off someone else’s thoughts and add on to it in some manner.
What made me realize there’s a big ego-driven difference was that when looking at my series of updates, I kept seeing my own face staring back at me time and time again. A whole Tweetdeck column of my face next to some text and maybe a link and photo or GIF. That’s…not great. Specifically, it doesn’t fully embody the spirit of community I think Twitter offers.
“Do what you do best and link to the rest” was a common phrase in the early days of blogging. It meant you should focus on what you’re an expert in or where you have something original to say and then offer links to other interesting material from other people who have done likewise. I’m deciding I’m going to start doing something similar on Twitter going forward.
I’ll still be publishing plenty of original updates with links to either my blog posts or stories I think are interesting. That will be aided by some changes I made to my personal editorial calendar to help me spread Tweets out a bit and not bunch them all into the hour a day I spend cleaning out saved stories in Pocket.
Along with that, though, I’m going to commit to straight Retweets more often. I don’t need to chime in with my two cents every time. It’s usually alright to let the original Tweet speak for itself. More than that, I want to emphasize the knowledge of those in my network. These are good, smart people, and amplifying is a way I can help expose their expertise and experience to those who follow me, without me getting in the way. Not that I’ll stop using the Quote RTs feature completely, but I’m making a conscious effort to pull back on that.
Doing so still allows me to curate their updates under my own profile, which is good for me. But it also is better for them since their words are emphasized more straightforwardly. It’s the best approach I can think of that is in-line with today’s social world and still embodies that “…link to the rest” ethos from the early days.
Even more importantly, it means I’m not creating an ego-driven wall of updates with my own face next to them. My social media usage is, of course, meant to accomplish specific goals as I discussed before. But I believe curation is an important tactic in those efforts, and doing more RTing of those I follow more effectively and selflessly helps me do that.