Twitter is an undisputed social media giant. As its user numbers increase, we've seen a change in the way its features are used, in particular the ambiguous and wildly misunderstood Favorite feature.
Have you ever wondered what is the point of Twitter Favorite? For many users the Favorite is a way of giving someone a virtual pat on the back, to say "good work guys, I like what you're saying".
However, it's often overshadowed by the almighty Retweet, and is seen as a way to show your appreciation for something you like, but not enough to share on your own Twitter feed!
But the Favorite tool has gone from something that was rarely used to becoming one of Twitter's most loved features. Its popularity is undeniable; in May 2013, Twitter users Favorited tweets 1.6 billion times, four times the number of Favorites in May 2012. The problem is, no-one really seems to know when and why to use it.
Any tweets you have Favorited show up in the Discover tab and anyone can see your previous Favorites 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 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.
Here are nine ways to use Favorites on Twitter to boost your business:
- To show approval and agreement: The Favorite button is used much like a Facebook or LinkedIn Like – 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, but it's something you don't like enough to retweet and broadcast on your own Twitter feed.
- To bookmark articles/statements: Trying to 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 find that great article you saw earlier. This is where the Favorite comes into its own; when you Favorite a tweet it is stored under the Favorites tab on your profile page and can be quickly found later. You can also save these Favorites to the Pocket app or send them directly to Google Drive, Buffer or Evernote.
- 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. Twitter is about quality over quantity, so be wary of those "gurus" who are followed by and are following thousands, unless of course you want to be inundated with self-promotion and spam messages.
- To dislike something: Some people are using the Favorite tool 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 that you have seen their tweet. This is usually to acknowledge receipt of an @mention and is one of Twitter's unwritten courtesy rules. This is useful for big businesses that receive hundreds of mentions every day, 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 an end without looking rude.
- To spread the word: As others are able to see your Favorites, 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 of their own home feed.
- To add personality: If you're using Twitter to tweet company news, or if you're using your company's Twitter account, the Favorite is great for showing your personality. Favoriting a variety of tweets – including some that are a little more edgy or light-hearted – allows users to see a different side to your company. Favorites are essentially lists of things that people find funny or engaging.
- Spam: Many businesses and Twitter handles automate their Favorites based on a specific word or hashtag – but this is easy to spot and doesn't always make your business look good. 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 human side to your business and makes it more likely that other users will engage with you.
Emma Pauw is social media writer at We Talk Social.
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