By Meg Guiseppi | October 29, 2009

Are you leveraging the value of strategic re-tweeting? Or are you content to just update your followers on what you had for lunch or what movie you saw last night?

Re-tweeting affords opportunities to acknowledge people, give them credit for contributing, and let them know they’re being heard — inherent needs in all of us. Re-tweets can be a powerful way to build brand evangelism, a quality Twitter following, and possibly get under the radar of subject matter experts you want to rub elbows with.

Here’s some advice on how to re-tweet (RT) well and courteously from social media strategists, the people at Twitter, and finally, me:

Start with Ruhani Rabin’s (@ruhanirabin) excellent post, The art of ReTweeting in Twitter, if you’re not clear on the basics of creating and formatting re-tweets.

In fact, it covers the bases so well, Twitter refers to it in their Official Twitter FAQs.

You may not know this. According to Twitter Support, “Re-posting another person’s updates without giving them credit and without their permission is a violation of Twitter’s rules”.

Twitter further states:

1. Re-posting others’ updates, regardless of stating authorship, is a potential form of spam.

2. Re-posting others’ updates as one’s own without giving credit to the original author is tantamount to plagiarism.

For some in depth statistics, read Dan Macsai’s (@dmacsai) 9 Scientifically Proven Ways to Get Retweeted on Twitter, at @FastCompany.

Here are some of my “give to get” re-tweet strategies (Tweetdeck and other applications will help you manage it all.):

♦ Your re-tweets should be consistent with and support your brand. But that allows for off-topics and levity, too.

♦ Don’t automatically re-tweet something without at least checking the link to make sure it works and that it doesn’t lead somewhere you don’t really want to send people.

♦ Structure your original tweets so they’re short enough to allow for more than one re-tweet without alteration.

♦ As a thank you to new followers who you may or may not follow back, find a tweet of theirs to RT.

♦ Take the time to tweet a thank you to people who RT you, even if you’re not the tweet originator.

♦ It’s always nice to include your own brief supportive comment with a re-tweet that’s exceptional. If you’re having a hard time generating conversation on Twitter, re-tweeting in this way will help.

♦ Boost a Twitter newbie by checking in on them from time to time and re-tweeting their relevant tweets.

♦ Don’t change the wording of the original tweet, except to abbreviate for space.

♦ But use abbreviations sparingly. A jumble of single letters and numbers can be confounding and doesn’t give a professional impression.

♦ If you have the time to track down the original author of the article or post you’re re-tweeting, give them attribution with an @username.

♦ Many blogs have the nifty Tweetmeme (or other) re-tweet button alongside each post – a great time saver. But sometimes the blogger hasn’t customized the plug-in to include their @username in the RT, or the generated tweet includes the blog name, making the RT too long, or a guest blogger wrote the post, but the Tweetmeme RT doesn’t attribute them. Take the time to restructure and tweak the RT to resolve these issues.

♦ Use hashtags in your RTs when you can. Read BenParr’s (@BenParr) HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Twitter #Hashtags, at @mashable for all the skinny.

♦ Regularly, but respectfully, re-tweet people whose attention you’re trying to get and who you’re hoping will follow you. Also, if you’re not already following them, coincide a re-tweet of one of their original tweets right after you hit the button to follow them. Sometimes this gets their attention. But realize that some popular tweeps don’t want to follow a lot of people, so they may never follow you.