What To Use Twitter's Favorite Button For

Here are the basic actions you can take with a tweet from your timeline: you can retweet it, you can reply to it and you can favorite it.

Retweets and replies are straightforward: you’re either sharing the tweet verbatim with your followers, or you’re replying to the sender to begin or continue a dialogue. But what about the much-debated favorite button?

Below, four ideas for how to use Twitter’s favorite button, some of which you probably never thought of before.

1. Favorite a tweet to express support or approval. Twitter’s favorite button is the closest equivalent to Facebook’s like. Many Twitter users use the favorite just like they use the “like.” For example, if someone tweets something funny that makes you laugh, you could favorite it to show the tweeter you liked their tweet if it’s not something you’d want to retweet to your own followers. Some people even do both: retweet the tweet, and favorite it.

Keep in mind that your followers don’t see in their timeline the tweets you favorite. Only the tweeters whose tweets you favorite see that, and they can only do so in their Connect tab under Interactions. And the Discover tab shows you your friends’ favorites. Twitter may change that, but for now your favorites don’t get broadcast. Of course, anyone can look up which tweets you’ve favorited by going to your profile and selecting Favorites beneath Tweets, Following, and Followers.

What To Use Twitter's Favorite Button For

Of course, if you click on “Details” for any individual tweet, you can see which users favorited it (just as you can see who retweeted it).

And you can set your Twitter email notifications to get pinged when your tweets are marked as favorites or tweets you’re mentioned in are marked as favorites:

What To Use Twitter's Favorite Button For

2. Favorite a tweet in the hopes the person who tweeted it will follow you. There’s also a darker side to Twitter favoriting, as we reported on earlier this year. Some think Twitter favoriting is becoming a spam practice to gain followers for bot accounts. The flip side is that more legitimate tools like Followgen offer a similar practice, programatically favoriting the tweets of people in a designated target audience in the hopes they’ll see the notification and then decide to follow the person favoriting their tweet.

Note that it’s best to never do anything “programatically” (read: “automagically”) on any social network, since the whole point is to connect genuinely and authentically with people you know and people you’d like to know, and vice versa. But if you follow and admire someone on Twitter, and you wish to express approval for a tweet they’ve sent while also making an effort to make them aware of your own presence on Twitter, go ahead and use the favorite button.

3. Use the favorite as an article bookmarking tool. I use Twitter’s favorite like I use Pinterest’s heart button: to remember something for later. I’ve actually set up an IFTTT recipe so that any tweets I favorite get sent automatically to my Pocket account so I can read the articles they link to later.

What To Use Twitter's Favorite Button For

4. Favorite hate tweets to use as motivation. As Mashable reported in September, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick favorites harshly critical tweets from fans as a source of fuel to prove them wrong and kick butt at his next game. Not all of us are professional athletes, but it could be helpful to use the Twitter favorite button to keep tabs on trolls if you’re motivated by put-downs that fire you up.

Twitter favoriting is becoming increasingly popular, according to research from data analytics company Topsy. In May 2013, Twitter users favorited tweets 1.6 billion times, four times the amount of favorites from May 2012.

What do you use Twitter’s favorite button for?

(Stars image via Shutterstock.)