I got asked a question by Susan, one of my followers, last week. She was wondering what the appropriate way to thank someone who favourites one of your tweets was.
I’ll get back to my answer in a sec, but first, let’s talk about that little star.
On any given tweet, there are a series of buttons just below it. These buttons allow you to reply to the original tweeter (and anyone else who is @mentioned in the tweet), retweet the tweet, or favourite it. The “favourite” button is the one that looks like a little star.
When you favourite a tweet, it saves or bookmarks that tweet for you. In order to see your favourites, head to your twitter profile (ie: twitter.com/yourusername) and the second-last tab is your favourites.
I must confess, I’ve been on Twitter a long, long time, and it’s the feature I use the least. I primarily use it when I see a tweet with a link that looks interesting that I eventually want to go back to and read, but don’t have the time to right now. I use it as an alternative to Delicious (which is how I save and bookmark links that I want to come back to later either to share through my feeds, or to write blog posts about).
Over the last year or so, I’ve seen the amount of favouriting increase dramatically on my feed. Not just other people favouriting my tweets, but all over twitter, tweeps are favouriting up a storm.
It’s starting to feel to me like hitting the “favourite” button on Twitter is becoming the new “Like.”
Favouriting has two purposes: first, of course, it saves the tweet for you in a place where you can easily find it. This is handy, when, 3 days later, you’re trying to sift through hundreds of tweets to find that link that that guy tweeted you. Secondly, though, it sends a notification to the person who sent the tweet that it’s been favourited.
Many people are using it as a way to try to capture the attention of someone they want to follow them back, thinking, someone sees you’ve favourited one of their tweets, they will click on your profile and see who you are, and then, if sufficiently interested, follow you. Some people have even used this to create a scam.
Personally, I have two problems with this. First off, I very seldom actually use Twitter.com. I primarily use Hootsuite, and the “Favourite” button is more hidden (below a menu pull-down), and therefore not as easily accessible as it is on Twitter. com. Secondly, I have all my notifications turned off. Nothing personal, just with 6700+ followers, would be getting 500,000 emails a day if I had notifications turned on on all of my Facebook, Twitter, Vine, etc etc etc… I do keep notifications turned on on my phone, and I do keep notifications for things that I feel are important priorities, like DMs and @mentions. I want to be able to receive and reply to those as soon as possible. So, it’s pretty safe to say, if you favourite one of my tweets, I won’t take a lot of notice.
I’m more interested in retweets. A retweet has a lot more social clout than a favourite, because it goes out to the retweeter’s twitter following. It introduces me to a potential new audience, and that is awesome. A favourite does nothing for my Twitter reach.
So, how did I answer Susan’s question? Well, I first of all, I had to confess that I wasn’t probably the right person to ask (because I do nothing), and then I did some research. I don’t think there is a protocol (like how many people thank the people that RT their stuff publicly) for thanking people that favourite your tweets. As a courtesy, it might be nice to look at their profile, and perhaps follow them. But I think that’s about it.
My fear is, that the favourite is going to become overused. The more people favourite tweets (including ones that don’t have links that you want to bookmark for later, which is the utilitarian usage for favouriting), the more ubiquitous they become. Does that diminish their value? Only time will tell.
By the way, if you get tons of favourites, and you want to try to monetize them, check out Flattr.
What are your thoughts on Favourites? Do you use them? Do you not? And do you find them useful or overused? I’d love to hear your comments.
Further reading: 5 Reasons People Favourite Tweets