Questions You Need to Consider Before Retweeting Anything on Twitter
What you tweet says a lot about you. And so do your retweets. You can either use Twitter's retweet button or you can repost someone else's message by including "RT" at the beginning with the person or organization's Twitter handle.
But you should consider certain things before blindly retweeting something. Are you passing on helpful or harmful content? Whatever you retweet, it's important to get it right, especially if you use Twitter to network, attract customers or build your business.
Take for example Linda Sobeh Ali, the former Palestinian envoy to Canada, who was relieved of her duties after retweeting a link to a YouTube video that was racially offensive. Ali claims she didn't watch the video before retweeting it, but that didn't matter to her employer.
Here are questions to help you determine whether or not it's a smart idea to retweet something:
Am I aware of (and okay with) all of the content behind the tweet I'm about to retweet?
Often people don't fully read the articles, completely view the videos or even glance at the images they retweet. This is just as potentially problematic as forwarding an email you've never read.
If you don't have time to preview and digest the information you're retweeting, don't bother retweeting it. You could open yourself up to a world of hurt -- and your Twitter followers to offensive content -- like Ali and countless others have. The general rule here is to only retweet information that you are convinced is appropriate and not out of alignment with your personal, professional and company ideals.
Will this retweet hurt my image or my company's image?
Ask yourself if you would send the tweet you're about to retweet. If not, it's probably not a good idea to retweet it. Go with your gut feeling and steer clear of retweet foot-in-mouth tweets about sensitive topics that could be interpreted as offensive by your followers -- especially your current and potential customers and business partners. When in doubt, leave it out.
Retweeting content that could be deemed derogatory or disrespectful -- even in the slightest -- can be a surefire way to weaken your personal and professional brand value. Instead, stick to retweeting safe, neutral and positive tweets that are relevant to your followers and add value to their lives.
For example, if you run a children's educational toy company, it would be poor form to retweet content that's not strictly family-friendly. Instead, you'd want to retweet useful content that helps solve common child-rearing challenges. This might include retweets of links to videos that highlight quality family activities and children's craft ideas.
Relevant, carefully targeted retweets will likely deepen your connection to your target market, which could lead to retweets of your retweet and consequently potentially boost your brand exposure and sales.
Can I undo a retweet I might regret later?
If you retweet something you later wish you hadn't, the good news is that you can remove it from your timeline.
To do so, simply click on the Retweeted feature within the Tweet. If you did a manual "RT," simply delete the tweet like you would any other tweet -- just cross your fingers no one noticed it.
Remember, if you retweet something controversial or unseemly, even unknowingly, it could instantly damage your personal and professional reputation, perhaps beyond repair. Retweet wisely.
Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper, HealthCentral.com, PsychCentral.com and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here.