Twitter favorites are denoted with the use of a gold star and are the Twitter equivalent of a Facebook Like or a Google +1. They appear in the Twitter activity and @username tabs and can give great insights into the person behind the @. Favorites are important because they not the same as retweets; they allow you to interact with a tweet without having to share it with all your followers.
In general, I use retweets for sharing links or information and favorites for personal communication. In particular, I use favorites for the following specific purposes:
- To let someone know that I agree with their point of view or found their tweet amusing or insightful, depending on the context it is usually fairly obvious what my meaning is.
- To signal the end of a conversation by letting someone know that I have read their tweet but have nothing else to add.
- To save a key article or link that I want to read or re-read in order to comment on. As twitter does not differentiate between ‘save to read later’ and ‘favorites’, I usually ‘unfavorite’ something if I find to be not worthwhile at a later time.
I find that favorites are especially useful for interacting with tweets that are off-topic or more personal in nature, because it reduces the number of conversational tweets that get sent from my account whilst still allowing me to acknowledge other twitter users as having influenced me.
Don’t take my word for it, check out my personal twitter account and then come back and leave me a comment.
Update: 18 February 2012
A great way to follow someone’s twitter favorites is to add their feed to an RSS reader, such as Google Reader. It’s as simple as copying this url into the subscribe box and clicking add: https://twitter.com/favorites/anjleeb.rss This tip will work for any user account, just replace my twitter handle with the @username of any twitter account.