More than Liking and Bookmarking? Towards Understanding Twitter Favouriting Behaviour

Twitter is a widely used micro-blogging platform that offers its users a variety of different features to engage with contacts in their social network and the content they produce. One of this features is the favouriting function a small, star-shaped icon displayed on the bottom of every tweet.


The usage of favouriting has strongly increased over the years, but in contrast to other Twitter features, such as retweeting or hashtags, favouriting has not been, to date, the focus of any rigorous scientific investigation.

Our work presents an initial study of favouriting behaviour. In particular we focus on the motivations people have for favouriting a tweet. We approach this question via a large-scale survey, which queried 606 Twitter users on the frequency with which they exhibit particular behaviours, including how often they make use of favourite button. Moreover two free form questions asked users about the reasons why they use this function and what they hope to achieve when doing so.

Interestingly only 65% (395 participants) of our respondents reported knowing about the favouriting feature. On the one hand, 26.8% of these participants stated to never favourite a tweet. On the other hand, 36.1% reported favouriting regularly, 5% of participants even reported doing so multiple times per day.


The main result of our study is a coding scheme or classification of 25 heterogenous reasons for using the favouriting feature. The table below shows the complete coding scheme along with frequency information, detailing how often each code appeared in the participants’ answers.


Our findings show that motivations behind favouriting can be grouped into two major use cases:

  • (A) favouriting is used as a response or reaction to the tweet or its metadata, e.g., by liking it [A3]. Another prominent example is the ego favouriter [A4.2], who favourites a tweet, when he or she is mentioned in it.
  • (B) favouriting is used for a specific purpose or to fulfill a function, e.g. by bookmarking [B1] it in the favourites list. Another example would be agreeing with the author [B2.1], which can be interpreted as a digital fist bump or nod, as form of unwritten communication [B2].

All in all we can see that the favouriting feature is overly re-purposed, revealing unsupported user needs and interesting behaviour.

For a more detailed explanation of codes  and example statements see our full paper, More than Liking and Bookmarking? Towards Understanding Twitter Favouriting Behaviour.

Florian Meier, Chair for Information Science, University of Regensburg, Germany
David Elsweiler,Chair for Information Science, University of Regensburg, Germany
Max L. Wilson, Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom