Thanks to Facebook, the word 'like' has become an ubiquitous part of internet jargon.

Now, one of Facebook's biggest social rivals has decided to piggyback on the word it made famous.

Yesterday, Twitter announced that it is replacing its 'favorite' button with a 'like' button. As part of the change, the star icon associated with favorites has been succeeded by a heart icon, just like on Facebook-owned social photo sharing app Instagram.

According to Twitter product manager Akarshan Kumar: "We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use, and we know that at times the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers. You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite."

The heart...is a universal symbol that resonates across languages, cultures, and time zones. The heart is more expressive, enabling you to convey a range of emotions and easily connect with people. And in our tests, we found that people loved it.

Will marketers love it though? Here's what Twitter's new Like button could mean for them.

Engagement could increase

With a Like button, Twitter is giving users a new way to express themselves. As Twitter's Kumar allued to, the company's now-retired Favorite button was very specific in nature, something that probably limited its use.

A Like button is more versatile and Twitter clearly hopes that the new button will encourage users to engage with content more frequently.

If Twitter is successful in boosting engagement, it would obviously be good news for marketers looking to interact with followers on the social platform.

Likes might rival Retweets

Marketers typically turn to a number of metrics to determine the efficacy of their efforts on Twitter. One of the most popular metrics is Retweets.

It will remain a useful metric but Likes could become even more popular.

After all, convincing users to Retweet a piece of content to all of their followers can be difficult. Convincing users to Like a piece of content, on the other hand, may be easier.

As such, marketers may look at Likes to gain a better understanding of how well their content is resonating with their audiences on Twitter.

Twitter is desperately trying to appeal to the mainstream

Twitter recently installed co-founder Jack Dorsey as CEO and Dorsey, who many consider to be a product visionary, has been tasked with addressing Twitter's many challenges, which include slowing user growth and broad confusion about what Twitter actually is.

Despite the fact that it has opened itself up to copycat criticism, it's no surprise that the company opted to use a term that billions of people around the world are familiar with thanks to Facebook.

The company's decision to launch a Like button is as clear an attempt as any to make Twitter more appealing to the mainstream, which many believe is crucial to Twitter's long-term viability as a marketing platform. 

Some users don't Like it

Not surprisingly, Twitter's appeal to the mainstream is not going over well with some Twitter users.

By eliminating the Favorite button, Twitter has, at least temporarily, left users without a homegrown way to support bookmarking of content.

This creates some risk for Twitter. If users who favored the Favorite button find it more difficult to engage with Twitter and the Like button doesn't increase engagement as much as Twitter hopes, the move could be a net loss for the social platform.

Twitter opened an emotional Pandora's Box

The Like button is arguably one of Facebook's biggest product successes, but it isn't without challenges. One of them: some content is just awkward to Like.

The world's largest social network is experimenting with ways to address this, and Twitter may at some point decide that it needs to as well, particularly since so much of the content distributed by users is news-related and news isn't always positive.

Patricio Robles

Published 4 November, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (5)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and GDPR Geek at Fresh Relevance

The twitter "star" was mostly used like "poke", because it generates a notification. The usual meaning was low-budget (and slightly annoying) lead-gen, "I want to attract your attention but I'm too mean to follow you".

Will be very interesting if rebranding it as a heart means it gets used by normal users and it becomes "social proof" of when it's worth clicking on a tweet.

over 2 years ago

Jeff Rajeck

Jeff Rajeck, Research Analyst at EconsultancySmall Business

I don't think turning favorites into likes changes the core problem of Twitter: it simply takes too much work for it to be useful.

Curating the follow list, building followers, and coming up with interesting but not overhyped links is all difficult - but only when you do such things does being on Twitter become part of your life.

I reckon it will end up as a platform where a few elites publish to groups of large, non-contributing followers.

over 2 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and GDPR Geek at Fresh Relevance

@Jeff. Great analysis!

Back in the early days of Twitter, lots of third-party products were being released based on its API and they were steadily making Twitter easier to use. Then Twitter's lawyers clamped down on API access, for commercial reasons, and progress reversed, leaving us stuck using an immature platform with many hassles.

Twitter CEO Dorsey recently apologized to third-party developers and said he wanted to "reset" relations. It will be interesting to see if this about-face allows others others to finally make Twitter an effective platform for marketers.
http://techcrunch.com/2015/10/21/twitter-ceo-dorsey-apologizes-to-developers-says-he-wants-to-reset-relations/

over 2 years ago

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Colin McDermott, Partner at EASIserv.com

Don't 'like' LIKES. But then again, didn't much 'like' Favorite either! Tend to agree with Nate Benson in that I'd 'like' a way of 'marking' Tweets for (my) future reference.

over 2 years ago

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Ryan Smith, VP, Marketing at Araxam

To answer the question of this article's headline, I think what Twitter has done has absolutely not changed a thing. The caveat to this will be if a Like gets more engagement weight then the now forgone Favorite.

over 2 years ago

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