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What is Twitter’s favourite button for, exactly? What does it mean when somebody ‘favourites’ one of your tweets? When and why do you press the button?
There are a variety of reasons why people choose to ‘favourite’ tweets. In fact, I’ve identified 20 different reasons for doing so. If you’re anything like me you’ll use the button in a bunch of ways.
You can be sure that I’ve missed a few things out, so be sure to leave a comment if you use the button in yet another way.
So then, why do people press the favourite button?
While researching this article I conducted a search on Twitter to find all mentions of 'favourite button'. It's absolute carnage out there. I’d say that 95% of tweets on this subject are complaints about clicking the button accidentally. Seems to be affecting Android users, due to the placement of the button alongside the scroll bar.
To like something
What the button was intended for, presumably. An upvote of sorts. I normally award gold stars for obscure references that I understand, for good deeds and right-minded thinking, and for tweets that particularly amuse me.
To dislike something
Ever pressed the favourite button sarcastically? Some tweets and links are so jaw-dropping that you want to put them on a pedestal, to keep in a safe place for all time, and to look at on a rainy day, or when the going gets tough. Other times people will press the button to make their annoyance clear, the equivalent of sarcastic applause.
To bookmark something
One of the more common, more obvious uses.
As a note to self
A couple of nights ago I filed Jamie East’s tweet under ‘favourites’ so that I’d remember to write this article.
To read / watch / access later
I mainly press the favourite button when on the move, and browsing through Twitter via my smartphone. I have a few minutes on the way to work, which isn’t enough time to read all of the interesting links. In any case, small screens aren’t always the best for reading or watching (and some links don’t work on my phone).
To trigger something
The very excellent IFTTT has plenty of recipes to help you to push your favourite tweets left, right and centre. Use Pocket? Evernote? Buffer? Google Drive? Ever considered sending your favourites there? Get creative, and automatically distribute, compile and expand your favourites.
As a ‘read receipt’
An acknowledgement that you've seen something. Fred Wilson calls this a ‘super lightweight engagement gesture’.
As a conversation killer
“We’re done here, gotta dash.” Here’s that Jamie East tweet I mentioned earlier.
Twitter should really name the favourite button the "I'm done with this conversation now thanks" button.— Jamie East (@mrjamieeast) February 18, 2014
To doff one’s cap
“Well played sir!” A nod, a wink, an upvote, a casual embrace.
It happens. I’ve heard stories.
To show support
In a fight, for example. Who’s side are you on?
To spread the word
For those who tune into other people’s ‘favourites’, they are like retweets on steroids. Most people take more care over their favourites, compared to normal tweets (which can be entirely throwaway should the mood take you). Pressing the favourite button takes that a little extra cognitive effort. As such, favourites can be more meaningful.
To attract more followers
Favourite somebody’s tweet and you will appear on their radar. Sometimes they’ll follow you.
Some players raise their game when the crowd loudly boos. Like this guy.
As a smoke signal
“Keep an eye on my favourites”. It can be useful when you want to wave a flag to friends or colleagues, without having to shout from the rooftops.
To build a personal brand
If you want to be viewed as an expert in a particular subject then you can use the favourite button to curate a list of links to interesting tools, articles, news, videos, stats, etc. Requires discipline!
To provide a glimpse into their personality
Take a look at someone’s tweets and you’ll get some idea of what they’re all about. Look at their favourites and you should really see into their soul. Favourites are often a condensed, noise-free list of the things most important to someone.
To collect and save testimonials
If people say nice things about you or your brand on Twitter then why not hit the favourite button, and start collecting these tweets in one (public) place. Social proof FTW.
There are automated tools for favouriting tweets. I can only guess at how sucky these tools are, but if you automate this sort of thing then you are definitely doing it wrong. Think on.
Are there any other ways of using Twitter’s ‘favourite’ button? Do let me know in the comments area below...