With over 600 million active registered users and an average of 58 million tweets sent per day, Twitter is an undisputed social media giant! As its user numbers increase, we've seen a change in the way that its features are used, in particular the ambiguous and wildly misunderstood ‘Favorite’.
Ever wondered the point of the Twitter favorite or what it actually means? For many users the favorite is a way of giving someone a virtual pat on the back, a way to say “good work guys, someone actually likes what you’re saying”. It is often overshadowed by the almighty retweet and seen as a way to show your appreciation for something you like, but clearly something you don’t like enough to share on your own Twitter feed!
Its use has changed over recent years, as it’s gone from being rarely used to quickly becoming one of Twitters most loved features. Its popularity is undeniable; in May 2013, Twitter users 'favorited' tweets 1.6 billion times, four times the amount of favorites from May 2012. The problem is however, no one really seems to know when and why to use it!
Remember tweets that you, and those you follow, favorite show up in the ‘Discover’ tab and anyone can see your previous favorites via the tab on your profile. So, this button should be used much like everything on social media…only favorite things that you wouldn’t mind the whole world knowing you endorse!
But what does it really mean for you as a user when someone favorites your tweet and when should you be applying it to others? The favorite, when used correctly, can be a fantastic marketing tool for users and businesses….So, let’s begin taking it seriously and start using it with some structure to bring, potentially great, benefits to our businesses!
Here’s 9 ways people use the favorite to their benefit:
- To show approval and agreement: In this sense, the favorite button is used much like a Facebook or LinkedIn ‘Like’ clicked to show you like or support what the ‘tweeter’ is saying. This could be in response to a funny comment or a statement you agree with to show your appreciation…but it’s clearly something you don’t like enough to retweet (equivalent to a share on Facebook and LinkedIn) and broadcast on your own Twitter feed!
- To bookmark articles/statements: We all know that trying to re-find something on twitter is like searching for a needle in a haystack. The amount of traffic and noise on your homepage makes it almost impossible to re-find that great article you saw earlier. This is where the favorite really does come into its own; when you favorite a tweet it is stored under you ‘favorites’ tab on your profile page and can therefore be quickly found at a later date. This is also great when you’re on the move so you can come back to stuff later! You can also save these favourites to Pocket App or send them directly to Google Drive, Buffer and Evernote so you can access them remotely…handy ‘ey!
- Prompt people to follow you: Some users use the favorite button to encourage you to follow them; this is increasingly being used by spammers and list builders in order to increase their following. There is a real desire to have mass followers on Twitter; but those who adopt these practices tend to broadcast a lot of marketing messages. We really do feel its quality over quantity, be wary of those ‘”gurus” who are followed by and are following thousands, unless of course you want to be inundated with self promotions and spam messages!
- To dislike something: A lot of people are also using the favorite to expose their disagreement with a statement or article. In this sense, think of it as a sarcastic ‘like’.
- Acknowledge you've read it: Many people use this as an acknowledgement to signal to someone who you have seen their tweet. This is usually used to acknowledge receipt of an @mention and is one of Twitter’s unwritten courtesy rules. This is particularly useful for big brands or businesses who receive hundreds of mentions everyday, as the favorite lets the ‘tweeter’ know you've seen their message but mitigates the need to reply to every single person!
- To mark the end of a conversation: Many people favorite a tweet instead of replying, this is great if the conversation is coming to an end or you need to dash. A simple favorite can be used to say “Yep I've seen this, but I won’t be replying”. This allows you a polite get out clause, putting the conversation to and end without looking rude!
- To spread the word: As others are able to see what you favorite, this is a fantastic way of amplifying a tweet; and as a favorite is deemed a seal of approval, people are more likely to read these than sift through the noise, pointless tweets and animal gifs of their own home feed.
- To add personality: If you’re using Twitter for work, in order to tweet company news, or if you’re using your company’s twitter account, the favorite is great for allowing you to show your personality. Most business messages can be corporate and so favoriting tweets that are a little more edgy and light-hearted allows users to see a different side to your company. Favorites are essentially lists of things that people find funny or engaging and so these allow people to dig a little deeper and see a lighter side to your business.
- Spam: Many businesses and twitter handles automate their favorites based on a specific word or hashtag used…..this doesn't look great for your business however and is extremely easy to spot. This is something we monitor closely to see if other accounts are still adopting this kind of automation and we regularly see a trend of specific accounts favoriting a number of our tweets based on keywords. So as well as automating your company tweets, make sure you set some time aside each day, or even each week, to favorite those really great tweets. This shows a humanistic side to your business and makes it much more likely that other users will engage with you.
So, we hope this has shed some light on this fabulous feature and shown how it can be used as an effective marketing tool. We would love to know what you use the favorite for and when you choose this feature over the retweet?
Note: This post is a guest post from a member of our DMR Insider Community.
Image credit: Howard Lake via flickr