Of course you know a “retweet” is simply repeating what someone else said. It’s a Twitter thing. A retweet begins with “RT” followed by the twitter name of the person you’re retweeting, followed by whatever that person said. So for example if you want to repeat something I’ve said, your retweet will start with “RT @tamebear …” and just repeats my words to your own group of followers.

A viral retweet is similar but with one addition: It has the hash tag “#VRT” at the very end. Here’s an example. I want to recommend someone to others, so I type:

In this tweet, I am recommending that everyone check out @PenguinElliot; if you like what The Penguin has to say, then you can follow @PenguinElliot too. The tweet ends in #VRT, so if you like and follow @PenguinElliot you are also invited to retweet, which creates this:

Now everyone following you can check us both out, and if either one of us @TameBear or @PenguinElliot is worth following, then they are also worth #VRT retweeting. When someone else retweets you, it looks like this:

See how that goes? As this chain of recommendations gets retweeted, it becomes longer and longer:

Pretty soon the #VRT drops off the end. (Remember, only 140 characters in a tweet!) If a #VRT comes to you and you’re the one who loses the #VRT on retweet, well then — TAG, YOU’RE IT! — it’s your turn to start a new viral retweet. So type:

naming someone you especially recommend for others to follow… and see how far it goes!

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