The death of the Twitter favourite

Yesterday I opened Twitter to find that something was different. I didn’t know why, but the little heart symbol seemed new. (Go easy on me, I was operating sans coffee.) After a while I realised that there used to be a star there. So, it turned out that Twitter has replaced “favourites” with “likes” and stars with hearts.

As Twitter blogged:

“We are changing our star icon for favorites to a heart and we’ll be calling them likes. 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, in contrast, 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.”




What’s the point of a favourite?

I’ve seen people decry the use of favourites for ages. “What’s the point?” They moaned. “It doesn’t give ME anything, not a retweet, a mention or anything useful to ME.” Well, that’s because favouriting isn’t about the person tweeting, it’s about the reader.

People used favourites for a variety of reasons, to bookmark something interesting, to provide kudos or show agreement without extra comment or sharing it with their own followers – and what’s wrong with that? Nothing that I can think of.

I’m not sure if the “like” function will even change anything. I mean, just look at Facebook, where people “like” posts about death and grief all the time. The “like” button is used by many people simply as a way of showing the poster that they’ve taken the time to read the post and appreciated it in some way.

The heart button

Let’s be real, it looks like, by clicking it, I’m saying “ohmyGod this is so totally awesome I may cry! I love it SO much.”. Sorry, but I reserve those emotions for kittens and memes about particularly attractive fictional characters.

If you’re going to introduce a heart button, at least give the cynical among us a button of our own. I want my dislike button damn it!


What does this mean for businesses?

I wonder how much business owners and brands appreciated favourites? They may not have increased the reach of a social media campaign, but they showed that the content generated some sort of interest. It remains to be seen if the new “like” button will be used as it always has, or if people will be more reluctant to use it as liberally as they did before.

It could help brands discover passionate brand advocates, or it could result in even less engagement with tweets overall. What do you think the affects will be?


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