If you’ve spent any time on Twitter, you’re likely already familiar with the retweet button and the star button to favorite tweets. In a recent move that was possibly spurred by Facebook’s announcement that it would add empathy buttons, Twitter replaced the “favorite” star with a “like” heart.
According to Twitter, the change is meant to make the microblogging platform easier to understand and use for new users. Since Twitter has had trouble encouraging more frequent use among the bulk of its users, making the platform more user-friendly is particularly important.
While favoriting a tweet may seem simple on the surface, there were so many nuances to its use that people have written lengthy blog posts on exactly how and when to star a tweet. The reasons people would favorite a tweet included:
- End a conversation
- Express hate
- Express humor
- Interact with content that was inappropriate to share on their profile
- Show love for a tweet.
And then of course, you have the Twitter users who took “favorite” very literally and would only click the star if they could genuinely say that a particular post was one of their most favorite tweets ever, which significantly reduced the potential for engagement on individual and brand profiles alike.
Akarshan Kumar, Twitter project manager, admitted how confusing the star could be to people because “you might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite.” He continued to explain the change from a star to a heart because the heart was a symbol that people of all cultures could recognize as something positive, making it easier for people who may not necessarily be fluent in the same languages to communicate and engage with one another.
And isn’t that the whole point of Twitter?
While the timing of the replacement may be meant to steal a bit of Facebook’s thunder, Twitter has been testing the idea of moving away from the favorite star as far back as 2012. For those unfamiliar with Facebook’s coming changes, the social media platform is currently testing the addition of various emojis to complement the thumbs up “like” button. Of course, it remains unclear how much longer we can expect Facebook to keep this in beta mode in Spain and Ireland before users worldwide will gain access to the new functionality that includes:
And it’s not just Twitter using hearts. Periscope has used hearts since it launched in the spring, while Twitter has announced that hearts will replace the smiley face on its Vine video app. Moving from favorite to like not only brings unity to these three social media platforms, but also makes Twitter easier to understand for users coming to the platform from Facebook, where likes have been a staple for years.
While the majority of Twitter users are already seeing the switch from stars to hearts, those using Twitter for Mac may still have to wait awhile before they can see the same thing on their desktop computers as they see on their iPhone apps. Regardless, Twitter’s move from stars to hearts provides a clear opportunity for increased interaction on brand accounts now that users are able to express that they like a business’s content rather than being forced to say it’s their favorite content. Only time will tell whether this increased potential for interaction will strengthen brand recognition, engagement and social media marketing performance.
Beck, Martin. Goodbye Twitter Favorites; Twitter Replaces Stars With Hearts. MarketingLand. November 3, 2015.