First off they’re hearts not likes! Twitter’s shift from favorites, ‘stars’, was coming for a while now. The company tested the change with users through small batches, and the responses were mixed because many believed Twitter was testing a change that wouldn’t make it to the public. Fast forward to today, we have the hell scape where Twitter is spilt into two camps. The ones who haven’t noticed or cared about the change, and the ones who won’t stop asking @jack, Twitter’s CEO, to bring back favorites.
The change is meant to help Twitter’s new users better understand the somewhat daunting social media service. The idea, or at least what I think they’re doing, is linking hearts to an emotion. Everyone understands “I like what that person said, let me heart that tweet to show them I liked it.” The favorite button was less ambiguous because many core long time users used it in so many ways. They would favorite to save news articles, to hate fav something, or to even show they liked a tweet. This core user base of tech savvy users who helped create the ReTweet feature, @ replies, and many other core Twitter features. Now the companies investors want more normal users signing up and engaging on the site. They want to see returns like Facebook has done over the past years from losing some users to keep users engaged with video.
In fact the change to hearts make Twitter more like Facebook. Both companies want to know what your feeling, doing, watching, and so much more. Twitter’s had a disadvantage because they don’t collect a lot of info on sign up, and just introduced adding your birthday to your profile. Twitter has a lot of value for journalist and citizens of countries who try to suppress their free speech. Who wants to heart a sad post or a tweet about a political gathering. They would fav a tweet to show they’ve seen said tweet and acknowledged it, but a full on like takes on a different life.
The emotional connection to the heart is what makes the change so upsetting for me. I don’t want to always tie an emotion, and one of approval to a tweet. A favorite allowed me to acknowledge a tweet, but not like it or endorse the tweet. This may have been what made Twitter so confusing to some users, but this change won’t spur a sudden up tick in users signing up.
Tell me in the comments below what you think about hearts and favs!