A lot of people recently have been hearing that retweets won’t make any difference for PitMad visibility, and that perhaps they should comment instead. Twitter is a very complicated platform, and how agents interact with it is somewhat unpredictable, so giving definite answers here is difficult. But I’d like to try to shed some light on the situation.
Let’s start with the easy one: comments ARE a good way to engage with tweets.
Are they the best? Not necessarily, but for the purposes of PitMad it probably doesn’t matter. The point is engagement, and all forms help.
Let’s break it down. Twitter has an internal engagement score for every tweet on the platform, and higher scores mean higher rankings in Search’s Top tab. There are four types of engagement: Quote Retweets (QRTs), which should net the highest engagement score; Retweets (RTs), which are second highest; Comments; and Likes.
The more engagement a post gets, the more it is surfaced into other users’ feeds and to the top of Search, leading to what I call a virtuous cycle—the more a tweet gets engaged with, the more it appears in other timelines, which leads to more engagements, which leads to more impressions, and you get the idea.
So all forms of engagement are helpful. But let’s talk about how agents actually interact with the contest.
All agents will be using Search to find pitches.
The only question is this: will they be using the Latest tab (or a TweetDeck search), which shows you a reverse-chronological timeline of all tweets in real time, or will they be using the Top tab, which leverages engagement scores to rank tweets?
In truth, it will be a mix of both.
If an agent is using the Latest tab or a TweetDeck search, they will not be seeing Retweets (or they will have intentionally removed them from the search). They also won’t see Comments or Quote Retweets, because those tweets don’t contain the #PitMad hashtag (you would be violating contest rules if you included the hashtag in your comments). This means it is purely luck-of-the-draw whether they even see your pitch in this case. Engagement doesn’t matter. There’s nothing you can do aside from write a good pitch and pray.
But I believe that most—if not all—agents will utilize the Top tab at least once during their day. The Top tab ranks tweets based on engagement scores, which is why all those Retweets and Comments matter. If you can place a tweet into the top 100 tweets for your hashtag combo (even better if you’re top 40), you’re definitely getting seen. At that point it just comes down to the pitch itself.
So what’s the point? Should I comment or retweet?
The answer is, either one is fine. Commenting takes a lot longer, so if everyone decides to comment, global engagement for the contest will drastically drop, but that won’t cause any ill effects.
The bottom line is, commenting versus retweeting doesn’t solve any problems. Commenting does not improve the chance an agent will see your tweet in the Latest tab or on TweetDeck. Switching from Retweeting to Commenting will lower overall engagement, depressing the numbers that rank the Top tab, but the global effect should still be minimal. It doesn’t change anything.
But keep in mind that comments are better for morale! So if your goal is to build community and help authors feel good, commenting is the way to go. Just make sure your comments are thoughtful and personalized, and use positive language (this helps the Twitter algorithm even further).
At the end of the day, PitMad is still a popularity contest (or a pure stroke of luck, if the agent is using Latest). Switching from Retweeting to Commenting doesn’t solve any of the fundamental flaws that already plague the contest, but commenting might lead to better morale (at the cost of global engagement).
So do what works for you, and have a lot of fun! Here’s hoping the right agent spots your pitch. And if not, don’t worry—PitMad is still a great place to meet other writers, practice honing your pitches, and get energized by seeing everyone else’s work.