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Hootsuite, you’re killing my retweets

May 30, 2013 by leash

Hootsuite, you're killing my retweets

My inaugural blog post may as well come out of the gate ranting. Go big or go home, right? Cut-off re-tweets (RTs) have been rampant on my Twitter timeline for the last few weeks now, and after some sleuthing, I’ve decided that Hootsuite is to blame.

There are two styles of RTs:

  • old-style/”classic”
  • new-style
Old style RTs

Old style RTs allow you to modify or even add your own comment to the original tweet (provided that there is room left in the 140 character tweet limit). The tweet shows up in your followers’ timelines with your profile image, but it is not counted toward the traditional RT stats that show below a tweet. I occasionally find value in being able to add my comment before passing along to my followers, so I’m a fan of this style as much as the newer option.

New style RTs

New style retweet

New style RTs just require that you mash your “retweet” button in Twitter (or your Twitter app), and nothing more to it. These tweets are counted towards retweet data, and show up in others’ timelines with the original author’s profile image.

Hootsuite’s old style RTs

Old style retweet

It seems that Hootsuite’s retweet function employs the old style, but with a caveat – any characters that won’t fit in an RT are automatically clipped off at the end, to compensate for the “RT @username” adding to the tweet length. (In most apps, you can’t post an RT until you manually edit the post to fit the character limit, preventing important letters from getting cut off without your knowledge.) In the example above (which is the same tweet as shown in the new style example), the original link is completely cut off in the RT.

How do I know Hootsuite is the culprit?

Echofon shows tweet details

Twitter.com doesn’t show all of the data available on a tweet. Third-party apps, such as Echofon (which I use on my iPhone) can give additional details. In this case, you can see the third party app used to retweet the post was HootSuite (bottom right corner). In fact, each cut-off tweet I’ve seen has only ever originated in Hootsuite.

Why should you care?

Typically, many tweets include a web link these days (and most times, at the end of the tweet). Hootsuite is contributing to countless “unshares” when people use the old retweet style with their app and the original tweet is cut off. I mean, it’s like sending an email and forgetting the attachment. Whoops. Not effective.

For those writing tweets to be shared, the pro way to handle this is to make your tweets short enough to be RT’d without getting cut off. Sometimes though, you need all the characters you can get – especially if you have a web address to attach – which is why my frustration turns back to Hootsuite*.

For those sharing tweets, double-check that what you’re sharing isn’t cutting out vital information. A popular convention is to modify “RT” to “MT” (modified tweet) and edit the original text to make sure everything fits.

*Hootsuite, we learn how to share in kindergarten. As one of the industry leaders in social media tools, you need to provide a better way to avoid tweets that essentially unshare in the social-verse.

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