An Analysis of Twitter Favorites

Taking a close look at Favorites, three information science specialists conducted a survey of 606 participants to determine the reasons behind Twitter Favorites.

The study consisted of two questions:

1. The first questions wanted to know why the user Favorited a Tweet.
2. The second question asked for “a specific explanation for the last tweet the user had favorited.”

Based on the results, the responses were categorized into two main categories (reasons) for Favoriting.

1. Favoriting as a Response / Reaction

In this category, there are five subcategories:

a. The Tweet was informative (relevant to the person’s industry)
b. The Tweet was from special people (e.g., family member)
c. The user liked the Tweet (possibly a great quote)
d. The user relates to the Tweet personally (a shared opinion)
e. The user found the Tweet emotional (possibly a hot news topic)

2. Favoriting for a Purpose / As a Function

This Category has four subcategories:

a. The user wants to bookmark the Tweet (possibly for future use)
b. The user wants to acknowledge the Tweet in a nonverbal form of approval
c. The user wants to enter a competition or to get a giveaway
d. The user felt the Favorite was less important or more important than a Retweet

The majority of reasons for Favoriting a Tweet fell into Category 1: As a response.

Within that category, Liking (c) was the most popular reason. There were 206 responses in this subcategory.

Twitter describes ‘Liking’ as one of the primary uses of Favoriting. But, the researchers believe it may be associated with Facebook’s “Like” button. Delving deeper into this area, they determined that there are differences though. “Many responses described the user’s intensity of liking” Examples used: “If I really like them,” “When I like them a lot,” and “When I love them.”

So, it seems that there’s a deeper level of Like when a user Favorites a Tweet.

What was also very interesting in the study was that some users have a feeling of privacy when using the Favorite rather than the Retweet.

The reason is that Favorites are not ‘passed’ on – they’re not Retweeted. They’re not shared in the user’s Twitter feed.

According to the study's abstract:

“Favoriting provides a more private form of approval, in that many of our survey participants noted that it was less public, and sometimes more meaningful form of acknowledgement or approval. Retweeting and favoriting could be considered a choice between using mass communication and interpersonal forms of nonverbal communication.”

On the flip side of this reasoning, there is a public list at the top of your profile of your Favorites.

Which is Better - The Retweet or the Favorite?

In regard to the Tweet author, which is better? Is it better to have your Tweet favorited or retweeted?

Well, since social media is all about visibility and connections, I would think having your tweet retweeted is better than having it favorited. The reason is simple: more visibility.

I usually retweet. If there is a tweet I find valuable or interesting, I share it. I like doing this because it accomplishes three important things:

1. I share valuable information with my followers.
2. I help another user get his/her tweet visible.
3. I make a connection with that user.

If I think a tweet is exceptional, I’ll favorite it also. Or, if I don’t have time and want to be able to go back to that Tweet, I’ll favorite it.

I also favorite and retweet tweets that I’m mentioned in.

It’s interesting, to me anyway, that I get lots and lots and lots more favorites than retweets. To be honest, I’d prefer it the other way around (I think).

It makes you wonder, based on this study, whether those who favorite my tweets don’t think they're valuable enough to share with their followers or whether it’s a higher form of acknowledgment.

Wish I knew.

A Bit More About Favorites

Since the study found that only 2/3 of the participants (65.1%) knew of the Favoriting feature and only 73.5% of those who knew actually favorited a Tweet, I’ll go over how you can find and use this feature.

Favoriting is shown as a STAR on the bottom of each Tweet. The Arrows going up and down are for Retweeting.

The Tweets you Favorite can be seen at the top of your Profile. Anyone can click on your Favorites and see a list of the Tweets you Favorited.

To use the Favorite , simply click on the STAR at the bottom of a Tweet you like. That’s it.

If you want to Retweet, click on the Arrows. You’ll be brought to another box. Click on the Retweet option.

I’m not sure why Twitter created an extra step for retweets and not favorites. I’m wondering if that’s why I get lots more favorites. Hmmmm.

I hope you found this post interesting. If you did, please share it.

And, if you have the time, I’d love to know whether you tend to retweet or favorite.





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