No Strategy for Twitter Favorites? 5 Ideas

It may not seem natural because of Facebook’s “like” button, but Twitter “favorites” can be for storytelling.

The page on which they are chronicled, after all, is a timeline of sorts, tracking whatever tweets you decide to attach a star. It’s essentially curation, even if often unused. It’s another platform to reach folks — particularly the most curious — and convey information, hopefully all while keeping an experience fluid.

I don’t know anyone who regularly checks a Twitter user’s favorites, of course. But favorites are there, and you have to expect it happens. At bare minimum, it’s fun to go poking around on your follower’s favorites and see how they’re using them.

So that’s what I did: poked around, but on the favorites pages of some journalism organizations I follow. The result? Usually some laughs (which isn’t necessarily bad).

Below are some examples of what I saw, some of which are kind of funny. The conclusion? Many a time, at least to the average user who stumbles upon them, a journalism organization’s usage of the “favorite” is rare and/or obscure.

The New York Times (@nytimes)

Kudos for favorite-ing that last one?

The Washington Post (@washingtonpost)

Don’t really know what’s going on here (and general readers probably don’t either, I’d imagine).

The Huffington Post (@huffingtonpost)

This also seems a little random, leaving me curious as to why the tweet on the marijuana legalization ad was favorited. (I also want to click the link about screaming.)

Breaking News (@breakingnews)

Not a lot of rhyme or reason here either, but I’m glad the Breaking News folks also love videos of dogs and cats.

NPR (@nprnews)

Probably a safe move.

It doesn’t look like there’s a lot of clear best practice for Twitter-favorite-ing. And, to be fair, it is a multi-faceted action, not completely represented in screenshots.

I don’t know, for instance, what any of the sampled organizations above have favorited and then subsequently un-favorited. That act — which lets a user know you made something a favorite — could have strategy on its own, even simply as a form of engagement. It could be treated as an organizational ‘like’ button for Twitter– something where the meaning is kind of, well, unclear, but pairs with some sort of emotional response in a user (like Facebook).

Edit: As some responses on Twitter point out,  you also have to wonder how many of these tweets in the examples above result from someone managing multiple accounts and not realizing which one they are signed-in as. I expect that’s the case in at least some– and probably something to be cleaned up. 

These are different topics than the one I’m tackling, however.

The Twitter favorite can have use. They’re salvageable for storytelling. Here are some ideas for what tweets to favorite, aimed at providing a clear experience for when a curious user (like me) goes clicking on ‘Favorites’ directly. They are written for organizations, but many could be adopted for individual usage. They have one common theme: consistency.

1) Your A1 cover story

Why not favorite the tweets for the story you lead with? Or perhaps a tweet with a picture of your paper’s front cover and a link to that A1 story? Consider using this as a place to highlight your best work.

2) Your “milestones”

Did a new product of yours just launch? Did you win a grant? Did you just hit a billion readers? (Probably not on that last one.) Consider using this as a place for history, kind of like what’s possible in Facebook’s timeline.

3) Your culture

@NPR has a different assortment of favorites than @NPRNews, but why not favorite something like #NPRLife tweets and showcase your culture.

4) Your staff hires

Did some new additions to your team tweet that they were “excited to announce they’ll be starting a new job” at your organization? Why not favorite your staff’s intros and highlight them on that page?

5) Big stories in your coverage area, even if not yours

Twitter is about being collaborative (usually, or ideally), and some reporters often RT work that’s not there’s if it’s about their beat. Favorites don’t have to be endorsements, after all– why not include a history of your beat through your favorites? Consider using this space as a resource book.

I’m sure there are more good uses out there, and I’m curious to hear and see them. Consistency, I think, is the most important thing, because you want those curious clickers to immediately know what they’re looking at. Leave any thoughts you have below!

(Full disclosure, my favorites are an odd assortment, too.)