Feature Friday: Embedding Tweets Inside Tweets

Since the very beginning of Twitter, users have wanted to take tweets from their timeline and tweet them out to their followers. Initially it was just users copying the original tweet and pasting it into the tweet box. Quickly the user convention became to put the initials RT in front of the pasted text. And the retweet was born. Birthed by the users like many of the best things about Twitter.

When I showed up at Twitter in the summer of 2007, there was a debate about how to productize retweets. Some wanted retweets to be hard coded so that the only thing that got retweeted was the original text. Others wanted to continue to allow users to mark up the tweet while retweeting it. The argument in support of the hard coded retweet was that would treat the original tweet as the atomic unit and retweets could be tracked as a signal of super valuable and popular content. The argument in favor of the marked up retweet was that users wanted to editorialize with stuff like “this is awesome” and such.

The timeline is blurry to me, as is so much about those early years at Twitter. But I think that debate raged on and was not resolved until Ev took over as CEO. It is my recollection, although I could be wrong about this, that one of the first product changes that happened under Ev’s leadership was the hard coded retweet was launched and this button started appearing underneath tweets in your timeline.

RT button

Users could still cut and paste and manually retweet but if they wanted it to be counted as a retweet, you had to use the retweet button which did not allow manual editing. Like all product changes at Twitter, that created a fury of outrage from the users. But Twitter stayed the course and the productized retweet has become an enormous success.

At some point, clicking on the retweet button started to support the idea of adding some text to it. I can’t really recall when that change happened.

But recently Twitter has added another solution to the “share this tweet with my followers” need. You can now embed a tweet inside a tweet.

I started seeing embedded tweets in my timeline yesterday. My favorite was this one from Dick Costolo:

So this morning I decided to embed a tweet inside a tweet. It’s really simple. You just grab the permalink of the tweet and insert it into your tweet. Here was my first embedded tweet:

You will notice that when you embed a tweet on a blog that has an embedded tweet in it, the embedded tweet doesn’t render. My first embedded tweet looks like this in the timeline:

embedded tweet

So Twitter isn’t finished completing this feature. This blog post will suffice as a feature request to Daniel and the product team to do that.

But I’m quite excited about this feature. Sometimes you don’t want to do a hard coded retweet. You want to editorialize the tweet. This is a very elegant way to support that. Well done Twitter.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Twain Twain

    I don’t know why but I just never got into Twitter.I understand it’s a copywriter and editor’s dream to concisely relay consciousness in 140 characters, but I just need more expansiveness.

    1. fredwilson

      have you given it a real try? it’s one of those things, like scotch whiskey, that tastes like shit the first time you try it, but once you develop a taste for it, you can’t live without it.and you can get expansiveness like thishttps://twitter.com/fredwil…

      1. Twain Twain

        Haha, Fred. I’m a vodka girl; whiskey I have to douse in Coke.Don’t get me wrong, I give kudos to Twitter for leading the way in @, # and trending topics which I now see on Google Plus years after Twitter first introduced it.It’s just that Twitter fragments the body and substance of the discourse and cuts the attention span with the multitude of links to other sites. Sure, that’s intended to get us to have multiple reference points and context contributed by others in a quasi-dialogue but it just seems to lack a “beginning, middle and end” which longer form discourse on blog posts have._______Not that Jack & co will care about me not being a Twitterer, haha. Twitter’s market numbers are up and stronger than expected; they still haven’t joined Google, FB, eBay, et al in sharing their diversity data; and he has a feng shui problem in Square’s offices as well as questions of whether Twitter will be able to monetize on FB’s scale and whether Square can develop over to enterprise-level retail payments not just food trucks, cafés and farmers markets.

        1. fredwilson

          i think everyone should be on twitter. i think if you try it you will like it

          1. Twain Twain

            My exposure to Twitter is mostly from AVC, :*). Every time you share Marc Andreessen’s tweet storms and other interesting nuggets, then I might go to Twitter to take a look-see.I didn’t even realize Jack Dorsey has red&blue shoelaces that are similar in color and concept to my Yin Yang until I went to look at his Twitter for the first time in May 2014, and I’ve had my Yin Yang for years!That’s how disconnected from Twitter I am.I do know, though, it’s great for competitive intelligence and to gain an awareness of what senior executives as well as consumers are interested in.Unilever is organizing its first-ever hackathon “Reinventing eCommerce” in London next week. It’s invitation-only and I’ve been invited.Whilst I was in SF, teams I did Product Mgmt, Design & Development in won prizes at 3 hackathons:* CapitalOne SmallBizDev => $5000* Tata datahackathon => $1000* Angelhack SV => 3 months incubationSo in prepping for the Unilever hackathon I went to read the Twitter of Unilever’s Global SVPs to gauge what types of tech innovation they’re interested in.That way I can tailor the product I do at the hackathon for them.That may be a use case Twitter mgmt hasn’t considered yet!

          2. JimHirshfield

            Congrats on the winnings!

          3. Twain Twain

            Thanks, Jim, the winnings paid for the airfare! Pretty lucky considering they were 3 different teams, I didn’t know any of the guys before, the problem sets were all different and I was the only common factor in the 3 teams.I also benefited from $2500+ of free Amazon Web Services Bootcamp training whilst in SF. They ran their first-ever popup loft where their Solutions Architects showed us how to do production-level AWS.SV is not ready yet for my version of eCommerce and data analytics. They’re at the Kanjoya-Stanford level wrt Machine Intelligence http://www.kanjoya.com.Apple's most recent OSX Mavericks 10.9.4 release as well as the Apple-IBM strategic alliance wrt IBM Watson and design shows me I’m on the right curve, though.Let’s see how innovative Unilever wants to be in its “Reinventing eCommerce” strategy…….

          4. jason wright

            does that come with an RT discloser statement?

          5. LE

            Hey I tried it but… (image attached).

          6. bsoist

            like scotch

        2. JimHirshfield

          “[Twitter] still haven’t joined Google, FB, eBay, et al in sharing their diversity data” Not true…https://blog.twitter.com/20

          1. Twain Twain

            Thanks, Jim, my mistake.Subsequently I’ve read Jack Dorsey is now on the case of diversity:* http://fortune.com/2014/07/…I haven’t seen it elsewhere but I’ve compiled a list of female board members for 20 techcos. Yahoo is in the lead with 3 of 9 board members being women (Marissa Mayer, CEO; Sue James; Jane E. Shaw) = 33%.Square* = 1 of 7 (Mary Meeker, PhD) = 14% Twitter = 1 of 8 (Dame Majorie Scardino) = 12.5%

          2. JimHirshfield

            We still have Dames?

          3. Twain Twain

            We do indeedy. Dame Majorie Scardino was ennobled for her business leadership of Pearson Group PLC. She’s American-born and was the first female CEO of a FTSE100 company.Angelina Jolie is now also an honorary Dame. Steven Spielberg was knighted in 2001.

    2. William Mougayar

      Have you tried tweetstorming?

      1. Twain Twain

        No, but I read Fred’s and Marc Andreessen’s every time Fred flags them here!

    3. Fernando Gutierrez

      I have phases in which I use it and phases in which I barely do. To me, the key is who I follow. Once you get engaged by the tweets you read, writing comes natural.Follow and unfollow a lot, but create a short list of amazing people whose content you always want to see. I call it ‘ini’ and I never have more than 50 people there. Go to that list first instead of the timeline when you open the app. Once in a while go the timeline. Add people to your top list, unfollow people, keep it live.

      1. Twain Twain

        Thanks for the tips. I’ll make more of an effort to get into Twitter, :*).

  2. William Mougayar

    Why does media (images, videos) get unpacked inside a Tweet, and sometimes it doesn’t?

    1. fredwilson

      good question. that was the essence of this tweethttps://twitter.com/fredwil…

  3. pointsnfigures

    that is a good idea. Better than favoriting.

  4. Sheamus

    Agreed it’s a cool update. Also think it’s the first step to “retweet with comment” replacing quote tweet on the official apps, which a small subset have had for a while now (see pic). This is all good as retweet with comment will, I believe, allow you to use all 140 characters for your comment, rather than the often very limited amount you get with RT @ etc. Until then, simply embedding the tweet is basically a retweet with comment, albeit one that reserves some characters for the link.

  5. Dave W Baldwin

    Will work great on the shopping side of things. Good move!

  6. Anne Libby

    I love this! It gets you out of the game of counting to 140, just to say, “Awesome.”(Or to pile on the rage, as is your wont.)

  7. JimHirshfield

    Can you embed an embed of an embed of an embed of an embed of a tweet?How far does this go?

    1. Bruce Warila

      come to my next cocktail party.. your quick wit is unrivaled 🙂

      1. fredwilson

        he’s the best!

        1. JimHirshfield

          You’re too kind. I may have to tweet that out. And then retweet it. There may or may not be an embed.

          1. fredwilson


          2. Girish Mehta

            “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!” – Hawking, ‘A Brief History of Time’.

    2. Brandon G. Donnelly

      tried. it only goes 1 tweet layer deep. also doesn’t show up in tweetdeck.

      1. JimHirshfield

        {sad face}

        1. Elia Freedman

          Your markup is wrong. <sad data-face=””> IE won’t recognize the original.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Fixed, I think.

          2. Elia Freedman

            Better, although maybe we should be using CSS classes instead. 🙂

    3. ShanaC

      ummmmmm…good question

  8. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    why is it good to be wrong on the internet??

      1. LE

        Most people don’t want to be told they are wrong or given helpful advice. They just want to hear positive feedback. Want to be stroked and complimented.I’m sure other VC’s cringe sometimes when they read your blog and they see some of the things that you are subjected to or have to admit. It might even very well be one of the reasons more don’t blog. Think about that. By being open and inviting critque you are not only gaining from the criticism but you are creating a barrier to entry.

  9. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    I don’t tweetI don’t have a FB accountI don’t use net for audio or video (except for some news clips and AVC video’s).I use my mobile only for talking (I have so far not turned-on my data plan)My 6th grade son tells me you are too old for your age (49).I consume net only on desktop and that also for about 30-50 minutes for email and AVC.Am I odd or am i old-fashioned or what? Anyone in AVC like me?

    1. JimHirshfield

      I like you, but I’m not like you.BTW, how many typewriters do you own? 😉

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        ha….ha….I used a typewriter in 1984 and passed the lower speed (30-words/minute) examination.It came in handy when I started using puters from 1988.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Your avatar is handy too.

        2. jason wright

          my latest mri scan was inside a tesla 7 machine.

          1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            7-T? is it medically approved now for human…i have worked on 7T and 10-T animal models…I am out of touch with MRI for the past 6-7 years …into X-ray and products.I remember you telling me you are ‘claustrophobic’ and don’t like the noisy sound of MRI …then 7-T must be even horrible.

          2. jason wright

            it was noisy, but not too bad. well, i signed the consent form so if i now grow an extra head it’s down to me 🙂

    2. Tom Labus

      I like this move

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        It was not a pre-medicated or deliberate move ….Most of my friends are either contactable through email or cell-phone …and all of them are around the age group of 50 (may be that factor matters a lot) ….not even a single friend of mine insisted on registering on FB or Twitter to have convo….We have a common email id (group id on yahoo) and we exchange convo on that for the past 17-years….earlier it used to be 100-mails a week now has become 30-40 emails a month.

    3. fredwilson

      that is shocking given how engaged you are in this social media

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        only on AVC … I got registered to disqus only to get engaged in AVC…otherwise it would be ‘only email’ on the net for me.

    4. PhilipSugar

      I don’t tweet, I know there must be something I’m missing. Facebook is nice to keep track of friends.You must not travel because Mobile Data is an absolute game changer. I mean it has changed my life (for the better)

      1. LE

        Just because you’re missing something doesn’t mean something is a good idea to spend your time on. The question is does the benefit out weigh any negatives.

      2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        Almost all my friends are connected through email….and we also havea common email which has a list of 38-members (which constitutes most of my friends)…It is almost a decade i traveled anywhere abroad (last one was to Glasgow in 2004)….within country (India)… i travel a lot and many a times one of my co-passenger will have navigation etc., set up on his/her mobile.

        1. PhilipSugar

          Here within the U.S. it is critical. Find a spot at the airport or train station with an app. Get through security with app. Change flight with app, get on plane with app, see status of train with app, rent a car with app, get a ride with app, go to hotel with google maps and hotel app, checkin with app, find a restaurant with app,

          1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            I understand … since 90% of the daily usables are digitized in U.S. ‘app’ comes in very handy… here I use internet (desktop) only to book tickets on flights and train …that is it.I am little ‘odd’ i guess … though there are/were plenty of opportunity to use internet and app on my mobile i don’t use it.Can you believe I lived in U.S. for almost 3-years without a credit card? and without a Car?I was doing research at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and to my fortune the train-station and bus station were at my door step. I always carry 5-10 20$ bill in my wallet…that is it. I never did a unplanned purchase except for food.Well there are some attitudes which die hard….and it becomes more harder as one becomes old.

    5. gregorylent

      if you don’t watch television either, i bow down to you, and extoll you as an early adapter of what’s next .. being immediately conscious! :-), as opposed to being mediated!

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        I do watch TV a lot … I think friends environment is the reason for not engaging in many of the latest net things.

  10. Bruce Warila

    Although I am not a big Twitter fan, I really like this feature. I still say that getting rid of the vanity metrics (or enabling hide/show) would be a game changer. “0” Followers is a deep hole that’s hard dig out of, and the pursuit of followers (as a goal) is a noise generator.

  11. Nicholas Bagg

    Tweet Inception.

  12. levnaginsky

    I keep a list of ~1400 Twitter employees at http://twitter.com/levnagin…At some point a few months ago, I noticed one person Tweet something with an embedded Tweet included. I didn’t realize this, but that rabbit hole kept going for hundreds of Tweets.You can see that here: https://twitter.com/levnagi

  13. Matthew Perle

    Now all Twitter needs is embedded Bitcoin for promoting tweets. Pay people a certain amount of BTC to retweet (depending on their influence) until the budget for that tweet runs out.

  14. Peter Gasca

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing. Just tried with resounding success! I concur as well … nice job Twitter!

  15. Peter Gasca

    Pro: Twitter picture can embed with the tweet, which is cool. Con: You are notified via Notifications that your tweet has been used as an embed. I personally like to know when people are using my tweet (as long as they keep my handle in it) so that I can engage with them … if it is engage worthy, of course. Again, thanks for sharing this great tip!

  16. ErikSchwartz

    I love recursion.

    1. bsoist

      what he said

      1. ErikSchwartz


        1. bsoist

          Every year my children get me one or two Ts from thinkgeek.com A few year ago I got this onehttp://a.tgcdn.net/images/p…

          1. PhilipSugar

            My favorite three that guys wear in the office are:”There are 10 types of people in this world those that understand binary and those that don’t””I don’t always test my code, but when I do it’s in production””I’m nodding and just pretending I’m listening to your dumb ass”

          2. bsoist

            The first year they got these for me, they got me that first one along withSELECT * FROM users WHERE clue > 0;0 rows returnedRight now I’m wearing$DO || ! $DO ; try ;try: command not foundI need to get that second one you mentioned!and the last one reminds me of a great Dilbert.https://farm8.staticflickr….

    2. ErikSchwartz

      I love recursion.

  17. MFishbein

    Life will be sooo much better now that I can embed tweets inside tweets! It’s been such a burning need for me. Thank god it’s finally here. I’m sure the world will now be a better place and Twitter will be a more profitable company. 😉

  18. ChuckEats

    always ironic to me that permalinks posted in a tweet did not have a card – what happened to dog food?

  19. bsoist

    I always enjoy when you tell any story about Twitter. I don’t tweet a lot but I read tweets every day and have for almost 8 years now. I remember when most features surfaced and the ensuing “discussions,” so it is very interesting to hear what was going on “on the inside” during all of that.I was thinking recently about an email I received in early 2008. I mentioned Twitter to an entrepreneur I was working with and she said “Twitter is changing the world”

  20. Casey Stern

    I have been using Buffer as shortcut to manually edit and add comments in RT’s. Using Buffer works great if you want to avoid the copy/paste method for modified RT’s….until you hit the character limit. Unfortunately, the embed function doesn’t work with Buffer.I am surprised Twitter has not added more Buffer-like functionality (the ability to schedule tweets) into its platform.Tip: If you try Buffer (free or paid versions), be sure to get the plugin for Chrome. The plugin allows you tweet pictures on websites without leaving the page, and tweet the page link using a link shorter…a great shortcut/time-saver. I am surprised Twitter does not have a browser plugin like this for chrome! Maybe Twitter should buy Buffer.

    1. Kourosh Behnam

      Actually the embed function does work with Buffer. All you have to do is leave your link long by hitting Command + Click.

      1. Casey Stern

        Thanks for the tip Kourosh!

  21. JamesHRH

    Jeez, that escalated quickly.Despite all the disdain, this was the very FIRST thing I wanted to do when I started using Twitter. I think it also a massive opportunity that Twitter has left languishing.When your core value is to post headlines and links, the idea that someone would want to give their followers a ‘Heads Up’ w the original tweet embedded seems obvious.In short, its about time.

  22. CJ

    Long overdue in my opinion. Love it!