Flying high

On the social media service Twitter, individuals post messages of less than 140 characters. If another user thinks that information is worth repeating, that person can “retweet” the original post themselves, usually with a nod to the user who first posted it. It’s the social media equivalent of the telephone game, although “copy-and-paste” reduces the risk of misquoting the original person’s statement.

Mashable contributor Dan Zarrella has been studying the hows and whys of “ReTweets,” and his findings are quite interesting. Perhaps the most surprising find is that retweets seem to gain momentum over time. That is, the more often a message is repeated by others, the greater its total number of retweets — which would seem to imply that people really like talking about what everyone else is ALREADY talking about. In this fashion, the original tweet begins to operate like a beach ball at a concert — it only takes one person to throw the ball into the crowd, but it takes each successive person bumping it back in the air to keep the ball (and the message) alive.

What makes something worth retweeting in the first place? Zarrella has his suspicions (and makes a great case for “politeness”), but he’s also running a survey to get firsthand feedback from Twitter users. He’ll summarize that data once it’s compiled. Meanwhile, look for people to become incredibly creative within their 140 character limits as they strive to keep their beach balls in the air.

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