Note: Despite my self-proclaimed status as an expert in all things Twitter, there are certain functions I don’t use much, making me ill qualified to tell you what they’re good for. One of those is the “favorite” button.
The “favorite” button lets you keep track of tweets that will otherwise disappear into the ether — despite new archiving functions, Twitter is an ephemeral medium. I personally use it to bookmark a story idea or other link I want to find later, or scrapbook an exchange with a celeb I admire, or (frankly) to keep track of a particularly nice compliment.
My Twitter pal @Mededitor, though, uses it all the time — and was kind enough to write a guest post about the “favorite” button. His thoughts are below.
All about Twitter: The “favorite” button
Twitter is a highly social forum for interacting with other people. Those whom you choose to follow become part of your “following” list, and those following you are your “followers.”
You have many ways to interact with your followers. The simplest form of interaction is to post a Tweet. All of your followers will see it.
You use the “@” symbol to direct a Tweet at someone. When you do that, only that person and people following both you and that person will see the Tweet. Another option is to add a period and a space before the “@” symbol so that the person and all your followers see the tweet.
You use the “retweet” button to duplicate another person’s Tweet to all your followers. This is considered the highest form of compliment on Twitter — a virtual “high-five.” The problem is that, while you’ve indicated your approval of the person’s Tweet, you’ve also broadcasted it to all your followers. Only do this when you think the Tweet would be of exceptional interest to everyone who follows you.
Note the green arrow at top right in this retweet, and the green “retweeted” button. That’s your confirmation that all those who follow you saw it. Too-frequent use of the RT (retweet) function will likely cost you followers because you’re adding content to other people’s Twitter streams, and they may decide that you’re spamming them.
The “favorite” button offers you a way around this problem. When you “favorite” a Tweet, a gold star appears on it in your window, and the person whose Tweet you’ve favorite is notified that you’ve favorite their Tweet. This is also a virtual “high-five,” but it is only visible to you and the other person.
Note the gold star at top right and the gold “favorited” button. That’s your confirmation that the person you favorited saw it. If you’re exceptionally fond of someone and enamored of his or her work, you can click on the person’s name, then view their Tweets, and “favorite” their last 10 or so posts.
Also, in your personal profile page, you can select your own “favorites” button and see all the Tweets you’ve favorited. There is normally no reason to do this, but when you favorite a Tweet you are creating a kind of bread-crumb trail that makes it easy to find a favorite item again should you wish to do so.
There is no “correct” way to Twitter. It’s what you make of it. Personally, I am very sparing with retweets. I may use the command only once or twice a day. But with favorites, I’m extremely liberal and hand them out like candy at a carnival.
Many people on Twitter use the Favstar tool (http://favstar.fm/) to manage their Tweets. When a Tweet gets five or more “favorites” or retweets, the person is notified of this in a special message. Favoriting a Tweet increases the likelihood of this happening.
Favstar here shows me that this Tweet garnered 19 favorites and 14 retweets — an indication that it was appreciated.
Be careful with the “retweet” button as it can cause people to stop following you. Only use it when you think 100 percent of your followers will appreciate the content. Use the “favorite” button as much as you like to thank those you follow for adding value to your Twitter life.
Mededitor is a medical editor with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Follow him on Twitter for thoughts on language, editing, publishing, culture, technology, and futurism: @mededitor.