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.
You can say a lot with a heart. Introducing a new way to show how you feel on Twitter: https://t.co/WKBEmORXNW pic.twitter.com/G4ZGe0rDTP
— Twitter (@twitter) November 3, 2015
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.
Twitter bowing to pressure to appeal to mainstream, not caring how power users use faves for bookmarking.
— Mahendra Palsule (@ScepticGeek) November 3, 2015
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.
.@twitter can journalists get a “save” button then? Looks bad if I’m “hearting” a fatal fire tweet from another reporter.
— Nate Benson (@natebenson) November 3, 2015
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.