By Jennifer James

Over the past month I’ve jumped back into Twitter after a long hiatus (follow me: @jennifer_red). Since being back I’ve noticed one change: a lot of CEOs are using Twitter to broadcast company news. A fortunate offshoot of this trend is that company champions and customers are helping CEOs drive their content even deeper into the Web via “retweets”. A retweet is when a Twitter user takes a post from someone (like their favourite CEO) and publishes it as his or her own tweet (crediting the original poster). For example if someone retweeted one of my tweets it would look like this: RT@jennifer_red: Skittles is using Twitter as their homepage.

While there isn’t a recipe to be retweeted, many people prescribe to some simple rules:

  • Include a link! 70% of retweets include an url (see below graph from www.danzarella.com)
  • Post original tweets during regular business hours. Most retweets occur between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., peaking in the afternoon at around 3:00 p.m. EST.

“We're not really looking at short-term ROI in terms of sales. We're looking to form life-long relationships with our customers, and we think Twitter helps us do this,” says Tony Hsieh, the twittering CEO of Zappos.com, an online shoe and accessories store. Writing about everything from company announcements to shoe giveaways, Hsieh, the 20th most popular person on Twitter according to twitterholic.com, is attracting thousands of new followers a day by being the 25th most retweet-worthy person in the world, tracked by retweetrank.com. See a full live page of people retweeting him. With every retweet he, and his company, are exposed to whole new set of people. Here’s a great example: RT @zappos: At Celebrity Apprentice viewing upstairs at Hot Rod Grille in Henderson. Stop by if you're around, it's a @Zappos task episode! On March 8, 2009 Hsieh was retweeted 127 times! Since joining the micro-blogging site in late 2007, Zappos.com revenue has grown 30%, with 75% of customers being return shoppers.

“The customers that are following @zappos on Twitter seem to really enjoy it because it allows them to interact with us on a much more personal level. I've heard anecdotally of people buying from us because of our Twitter presence,” said Hsieh in an interview.

The list of the top 100 Twitter users is filled with CEOs, including Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly Media (#85), Jack Dorsey, Twitter.com (#37), and Kevin Rose, Digg.com (#11). "Twitter is another way for us to get news out about Digg. Whether it's company announcements or sharing [our] casual information, Twitter is a great way to quickly reach people," says Rose.

Retweeting helps the power of the community to take over. It allows a single (CEO) voice to be amplified by the voice of the crowd, making retweeting a powerful aspect of this social networking tool, further cementing Twitter as a valuable corporate marketing tool.

(Jennifer James is a Communications Strategist with market2world communications inc., Ottawa, Canada's tech PR and product marketing agency.)

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