Retweets – they spread – good or bad!

I just read Jeremiah Owyang’s post – Retweet: The Infectious Power Of Word Of Mouth. Being extremely interested in word of mouth and viral, these are my first thoughts.

The “retweet” phenomenon as defined by Jeremiah:

“Within the Twitter community a “Retweet” is a social gesture indicating endorsement of an idea”

It is a phenomenon that spreads a meme faster to new networks through weak ties. Basically, novel information reaches further and faster through these weak ties within the network as a whole. This is very interesting in itself.

But, the retweet also reinforces the meme within the smaller network, as there is probably considerable overlap of connections within it. Receiving the tweet, and the following retweets, reinforces the meme through social proof. More people are paying attention to this particular idea, which makes us more likely to pay attention to it ourselves.
It is only the individual nodes on the fringes, with just one connection within the network, and the rest of their connections in other networks, that can retweet the meme without overlap.

I guess this can occur up until some kind of saturation point, when there is no real use retweeting it anymore, but rather make the late “retweeter” look like a laggard.

Jeremiah further writes:

“Companies should pay close attention to how information spreads and should do searches on their product and brand to learn what type of information is being spread by who.”

“…should start tracking the retweet stream around a brand and product to monitor and map out community and content hotspots.”

I think the monitoring of microblogs in general is important, but monitoring retweets adds an extra dimension, as it is basically monitoring memes that have proved themselves as having viral potential. These can spread – good or bad!

2 Comments on “Retweets – they spread – good or bad!

  1. Interesting post! From my point of view the phenomenas “bump”and “+1” at Jaiku is similar but in another service? With some difference, of course.

    • Thanks! =)

      Yes, those are similar phenomenons. The difference seems to be that the “bump” and “+1” on often are made by the same person as originally posted. This is to get more attention, or more replies to a request for information for example.

      The outcome of the same author bumping his/her own post means that the meme gets more attention within the smaller network (the author’s, one more time) but of course also doesn’t get the spread to new networks like a retweet by someone else would.

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