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I don’t like your favourites on Twitter

I don't like your favourites on TwitterI have a bee in my bonnet about favourites on Twitter. It’s the way people use them, and I’m not saying they use them incorrectly; just that they don’t understand how they work, and what they’re for. So I’m ranting on my blog, whilst educating the world of Twitter - Rantucation!

The other day I posted a link to one of my workshops and then someone favourited it. They aren’t interested in my workshop, as they are pretty good at tweeting, so favouriting it was an error in my opinion. What they thought they were doing was sharing my post, or at least saying to others ‘I like this, you should check it out”. It's nice they favourited it - I just wish they had retweeted and commented instead!

So what are favourites on Twitter?

Favourites are the little star icons under tweets or the word ‘favourite’. The option to favourite a tweet is available for every tweet sent out from every account and you can favourite anything you like.

But what do they do, and what don’t they do?

Favourites are not likes

Favourites on Twitter | Twitter tips and trainingI have a suspicion that people on Twitter are using favourites for the same reason they use likes on Facebook. On Facebook, when you like a post it tells the publisher that you dig their output. It also shares that post on to your friends so that post gets further reach. Ever seen that ‘Like this if you want to support our troops” post? It’s trying to gain likes to gain reach. This is not to be confused with liking a business' page, which is a different subject entirely.

On Twitter though, you would ask for a Retweet, as this would share the post on to people who wouldn’t have seen it otherwise, or who missed it if it was posted a few hours earlier. Retweeting it is cool for the publisher, just like liking their Facebook post would be, although arguably ‘sharing’ a Facebook post ensures it goes further.

Here’s the deal though. When you ‘like’ a post on Facebook, people know you’ve liked it. People will see your name on the list of ‘people who like this’ under the post. But when you favourite a tweet, it’s just for you, and you only. Favouriting a tweet does not share it to others, or give the original post any further reach. It’s a great way to save a tweet to your list of favourites to refer to later, but it doesn’t benefit anyone any further, other than a private nod of approval between you and the author of the post.

“Favorites, represented by a small star icon next to a Tweet, are most commonly used when users like a Tweet. Favoriting a Tweet can let the original poster know that you liked their Tweet, or you can save the Tweet for later.” – Twitter.com.

That is slightly confusing, as it says ‘like a tweet’. Likes are for Facebook, and a favourite will only tell the original author you like it.

Spam

Recently there’s also been a surge of favourites from meaningless people (normally in the US) favouriting tweets for all types of words, or sometimes for particular types of words. This is a new vein of spam/following/attention. Automating the act of favouriting tweets is frowned upon by Twitter (as is auto-following and unfollowing). The general idea is you’ll check out the account that’s favourited you and maybe follow back or engage. I find it plain annoying, but that’s just me.

So what’s the deal with favourites?

Not everyone knows you favourite their tweets. I wouldn’t know if you favourite my tweets as my notifications for tweets are optional in the app settings. On twitter.com favourites are only visible in the interactions column, and on Tweetdeck and Hootsuite it’s not shown as standard unless you add the relevant column. So it's not as good as likes on Facebook… in fact, pointless by comparison.

Favouriting a tweet does nothing more than save it for you to read from your favourites on your profile later. No one looks at your profile in that much detail, but bear in mind they could click on and have a good old look at your favourites; so be careful what you like… I mean favourite!

What do you think? Do you value favourites a little more than me? Or do you think favourites are annoying?  

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My name is Graham Todd and I’ve been immersed in social media for almost three years. I train, blog and manage social media for business.

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Leave a comment

Posted by Rachel Wild on
With you on this one. I also don't like them. I think they're often pretty cynical. For quite a few it's a way of avoiding writing well researched content that performs well on Twitter as participants in the favouriting game can simply piggy-back someone else s hard work and appear in the 'details'. This allows them to easily scoop up follows with very little effort on their part.

I'm a senior writer at Wild Digital in the UK, and much of my work is reliant on the successful sharing of content on social media. So, needless to say, I'm never too impressed when a post is hijacked by the fave brigade!
Posted by Warwicktweetup on
Hey Rachel - I feel your pain!

I'd never looked at it as a piggy backing effort and it's an interesting angle. Favourites have been used for a while to gain followers but I read recently that Twitter will take a dim view of auto-favouriting content so be warned if you do this, readers.
Posted by Sarah Kerrigan on
I was unsure whether I was missing out on a trick with favouriting tweets as there has been a sudden surge in my tweets being favourited. However after I did a bit of research I found out what I initially thought was correct. There is no benefit apart from 'saving' the tweet to read later. I think that if you like the tweet then to favourite it and RT it is more likely to get attention of the tweeter however just to favourite it for no reason/get attention without sharing is a pointless activity.
Posted by admin on
Thanks Sarah.

I totally agree. I love this subject as I'm constantly favourited on Twitter because of it and I've become the source of many favouriting jokes too.

Favourites are for you and you alone, although recently I've seen a change in the way Twitter shows these and on Tweetdeck for example the favourite(r) is shown to me in my interactions column - exposure?!

Still nice to be favourited, just like to make people aware that it's not a LIKE.
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