Pete Cashmore is one of those people who could make you feel rather envious. He is devilishly handsome with film star looks. He is hugely successful and much sought after for his advice. He was chosen as one of the Top 25 bloggers by Forbes Magazine. And he is the most “retweeted” person in the world.
So how come this young man garners such adulation? What makes people want to “retweet” him? How come your Twitter account doesn’t get the degree of attention his does?
If you are not aware, “retweeting” is the process whereby people copy your tweet (a message on Twitter) to their followers. If a Twitterer (a person who uses Twitter) finds any tweet interesting or valuable, they “retweet” it so that yet more people can be aware of it.
In this way the message spreads quickly. For instance, let’s say you have 100 followers on Twitter and one of them has a different 100 followers. If that individual “retweets” your message it reaches 200 people. And if any of them “retweets” the message, it can spread to millions quite quickly.
Pete Cashmore is clearly producing tweets that are useful and valuable to other people because his tweets get retweeted more than anybody else’s in the world. Even the famous Twitterer, Stephen Fry, isn’t in the Top 100 of people being “retweeted”.
Clearly, if you can do what Pete Cashmore is doing, you will gain more followers and a resultant increase in your business. So you need to analyse what is happening with his Twitter account and the way he uses it.
Firstly, psychologists would call the action of “retweeting” part of “prosocial behaviour”. In other words, the person “retweeting” is doing it largely for no obvious personal gain, but merely to help their fellow humankind. The people “retweeting” Pete Cashmore’s material gain little from it, except perhaps some new followers. So why do they do it?
There has been considerable amounts of research on prosocial behaviour, but one of the most interesting studies was conducted way back in 1969 by Stanley Milgram. He “dropped” letters in the street. Each envelope was addressed to the same PO box number, but the names were different. Milgram knew how many letters he had placed in the streets and waited to see how many of each name actually were returned to the PO box.
The letters that were addressed to names that people were familiar with, that they liked and trusted were picked up by the public and dropped into the postbox for delivery, many many more times than others. The name that got sent back least was “Friends of the Nazi Party”…!
There was no reason for people to pick up these letters and go to the trouble of posting them. They got nothing from it. But people were much more prepared to do this prosocial activity for something they liked, than something they did not respect.
So, the prosocial behaviour exhibited by people in “retweeting” Pete Cashmore’s posts is simply because they like him and respect him more than people much lower down the list. You have to ask, therefore, how does he gain that respect, trust and liking?
Take a look at his Twitter account; almost every tweet is about the world of his readers. There are thousands of links to useful sites and services, but very few tweets about Pete himself. In other words, his Twitter account is focused on his readers, not himself. Take a look at the other people who are constantly “retweeted” and you find the same. They encourage prosocial behaviour amongst Twitterers simply because they don’t talk about themselves that much. Go down the list of “retweeted” people and take a look at their Twitter accounts. The lower you go down the list, the more tweets you find about the individual Twitterer and the less tweets you can see about the world of their followers.
If you want to be “retweeted” more often – and gain more followers and more web traffic as a result – then stop tweeting about yourself and start tweeting about the things your followers are interested in. It has worked very well indeed for Pete Cashmore.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+