While not necessarily the most important Twitter metric, the favorited tweet could be the most meaningful in its own way. I tend to think of someone favoriting a tweet as putting it in their Twitter scrapbook or hanging it on their virtual fridge. So when we see a huge surge in favorited tweets for our @SUNYOswego account, we must be doing something right.
The number of favorited @SUNYOswego tweets rocketed from 9 in November to 52 in December — and with 47 faves in the first 8 days of January, a new high-water mark appears inevitable. So why this astronomical leap? Of course, this all starts with tracking, content and interaction.
You really should track what people are saying about your college or brand online. Tweetdeck is great for doing this in real-time (other instruments like Icerocket and Addictomatic are nice too). We set up tracking columns for “SUNYOswego” (where people use the @ of our account or something the #sunyoswego hashtag), “SUNY Oswego” and “Oswego State.” (1: If your college has only one name commonly used, congratulations. 2: A feed mentioning merely “Oswego” became unmanageable by all those referencing Lake Oswego, a large Portland suburb.)
Seeing a comment under these columns can spark engagement. If it’s a question we can answer or direct them the right place, responding is a no-brainer. Moreover, if it’s a student tweeting they’ve been accepted or offering up praise of something or someone at the college, we usually want to retweet it, perhaps with comment. Sometimes it’s as simple as “congratulations,” depending on space available, although we may add more commentary or humor when possible. (Acceptance tweets in all caps have been known to earn the #ALLCAPSWORTHY hashtag, for example.) Very often, our retweet gets a retweet from the person we RTed (if that’s not too confusing), we gain a new follower (or three, as others see the second RT) and increasingly the user (or someone they know) favorites the tweet.
As author, blogger and all-around smart guy Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) would say, if someone took the time to say something nice about you in social media, how can you not take the time to show them a little love and attention? This idea of kindness helps drive why we RT and engage with these acceptance tweets. But it also makes good business sense, presuming you’re into that kind of thing. Yes, these students now have a connection with and favorable view of our college and become an audience for our content (read: awesome things happening at our college). Sure, they now have a point of contact if they have questions if they’re weighing us vs. other institutions. Absolutely, they see other incoming students tweeting and can start to form a network with them via Twitter. But in a more personal way, we show that someone here cares and shares their excitement at getting into SUNY Oswego.
Note that even as these tweets sometimes come in every minute or so, we try to space out the RT stream a bit so it won’t be too much of a firehouse. We realize some students see these RTs and post so their own acceptances can be recognized too. We did see the rare snark or whine posted digging at the excited tweets, but you don’t let the occasional lonely troll keep you from crossing the Bridge to Awesomeness. It’s even nice to get positive feedback from others in social media enjoying the parade of good feelings:
Buzzfeed recently published a minor buzzkill on this trend, saying favorites are likely up everywhere because of a change in way the option is featured and its use as a “Twitter fist bump.” The article actually traces this increase starting with a December 2011 redesign that made the option more prominent and may have fostered a culture and conditioning toward greater favoriting. Which in and of itself is good if their assumption that perhaps “it’s a sign that Twitter is getting a little bit friendlier” is correct. But note that change occurred a while ago, and the huge jump in favoriting @SUNYOswego tweets by far outpaces increases in other metrics.
And however you slice or analyze it, seeing a huge surge in the number of people favoriting, RTing and engaging positively with your content is a wonderful thing. Where and how this converts into those admitted students enrolling at Oswego remains to be seen, but at least we have some nice benchmarks (and feelings) to start.