You may have heard about the big change on Twitter this week. No, Kanye didn’t tweet something controversial, and no Kim Kardashian didn’t gain another 10 million followers. Here’s what went down: Twitter said goodbye to the “favorite” button – and the star icon along with it, and introduced a “like” button with a heart icon.
Before, you would “favorite” a tweet to indicate that it spoke to you in som eway. Maybe it was helpful, maybe it was funny, maybe you just wanted to tuck it away for future use/reading. Now, the favorite button is gone and a like button has taken its place.. The thought behind the change is straightforward: it demonstrates how you feel, it shows your affection for something, and you can say significantly more with a heart than you can with a star!
What does this mean for Twitter?
Here’s the thing – Twitter actually owns a few other social media sites. Right now it owns Vine and Periscope, and I’m sure the Twitter big wigs are on the hunt to buy up smaller social networking sites as they crop up. It’s all part of building a massive empire to compete with Facebook and Google. Well those other social sites use like buttons, just like Facebook and Instagram, and Twitter seems to want consistency and reliability. Though the fan reaction was pretty negative, they clearly like to use likes on other platforms, but people just like to fight against chacne.
A favorite is all-encompassing, but it shows no emotion. If someone’s pet dies, is it really your favorite? But likes have the same problem – a simple like doesn’t have any differentiation between liking a post about the weather and liking an engagement announcement. A heart gets closer to the “heart” of the issue, though. It demonstrates more feeling, it indicates sympathy, it indicates joy and it’s a universal symbol.
What does this mean for social media?
Let’s be perfect honest – this little change is not going to shake up social media. Sure we all got excited and annoyed and angry when it was announced, but in a month or two we’ll forget about the favorite button altogether. In 2017 your nephew will ask you what a favorite button was and you’ll feel ancient. Things move fast in the world of social media! I really think we’re trending toward more emotional and evocative icons, though. A heart is a good start, but once we start having icons that touch on more human emotions, it will really make the social platform stand out. Instead of trying to catch up to Facebook et al., Twitter could be a trendsetter in this regard.