Twitter favorites are changing to Twitter likes.

The star is switching to a heart.

What might it mean for marketers?

We’re thrilled to see the all the latest changes and improvements to Twitter (Twitter hearts come hot on the heels of the announcement for Twitter Polls), and we’re eager to learn what effect it might have on our sharing, engaging, and marketing.

As we start experimenting and testing, we’d love to pass along some early thoughts on what we think could happen with the shift from favorites to likes. (All good things, especially as it relates to engagement!)

About the change to Twitter hearts & likes

This change from Twitter is a mostly cosmetic one—the functionality of clicking the favorite/like button still works the same, it just comes with a different icon and name.

In your per-tweet statistics, the text now shows as “likes.”

twitter likes

On tweets in a timeline, the Twitter star icon is now a heart icon.

heart twitter

The change was brought about by a few different factors. According to Twitter’s announcement post, the star was potentially a bit confusing for users, particularly those who were new to Twitter.

Favoriting was a bit of a difficult concept to grasp (e.g., can more than one thing truly be a favorite?). Liking is a bit more universal, likely due in part to Facebook’s ubiquitous use of the term.

Also, the heart icon specifically had performed really well as an engagement method on Twitter’s live streaming app Periscope. For those watching a Periscope live stream, you can interact with the stream by tapping the screen to add a heart/like (with a kind of cool animation, seen below).

hearts

Vaynermedia founder and Twitter investor, Gary Vaynerchuck belives this small update shows that Twitter is making the kinds of changes they need to make to increase growth and become a mainstream product (like Facebook), as he explains on his blog:

Twitter is moving toward making this product a little more consumable and understandable for the broad market. It might seem like a small step to many, but to me it’s a signal that Twitter is finally acknowledging the market. It speaks to Twitter’s self-awareness, and maybe even to a brighter future for the company.

Takeaway: Might Twitter hearts mean more engagement for tweets?

One thought that we’ve had with this change to Twitter hearts is that it’s possible tweets could see a rise in engagement as it’s now easier than ever to interact with an individual tweet.

It’s perhaps a bit of semantics, but it seems that before there was only the one option to “favorite” something, which had a rather specific type of feel to the action. “Liking” a tweet seems to open up a huge variety of possibilities for the emotion behind the like.

From Twitter’s announcement GIF (embedded in the tweet above), they share a number of different types of responses that all fall under the umbrella of the heart:

  • yes!
  • congrats
  • LOL
  • adorbs
  • stay strong
  • hugs
  • wow
  • aww
  • high five

Could you say all these things with a star or a favorite? Perhaps not.

We’re excited to see if this broader term (with so many different applications) leads to more people liking a tweet, thereby ramping up engagement numbers for all.

twitter-hearts

What will come of all the ways people used favorites?

An interesting discussion on the Buffer blog in the past is how to use favorites. There’re tons of unique use cases!

Some people used them as a means of engagement—a nonverbal “thank you” or “got it.”

Some people used them to save brand mentions.

Some people used them as portfolios.

Some people used them as social proof for their brand.

Some people use them as a Buffer to-do list.

buffer to-do list favorites

Now that they’ve gone extinct, will people continue to use the old favorite in the same way? Or will these methods be replaced by new uses?

We can’t wait to see!

Your thoughts

What do you think of this change to likes and hearts?

How have you gone about using favorites in the past?

We’d love to hear any thoughts you might have here! Feel free to drop us a note in the comments, on Twitter at @buffer or vote in our Twitter poll below. Excited to chat more!

Image sources: Partnhers, Dirty Diaper Laundry

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Written by Kevan Lee

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  • A lot of people don’t like change and are quick to vent their dislike, Facebook’s ever changing layout being a prime example. But they soon forget about it and carry on as normal so I don’t see this a big deal at all. People will still use “likes” for the same purposes they did with favourites.

    • I agree, I can see possibly an initial increase but then fall back in line with how they used to use the star.

    • Makes a ton of sense, Anthony & Dean! Would love to know how you all personally use favorites/likes!

      • I used to use favourites to bookmark tweets with links to read later but I use Pocket for that now. I now use favourites (well, likes) to signify that I genuinely like a tweet, such as a compliment or a funny joke. I guess this change really suits me 🙂

        • Shayla Price

          Same here Anthony. This change just makes it easier for me.

          • Sounds great! I think my flow has been quite similar, too. The Pocket extension is super useful when scrolling through Twitter. And it’s really nice to be able to click a star/heart to share appreciation for a tweet (without necessarily needing to reply) 🙂

    • Spot on. I think the change is smart but the core crowd will initially resist.

    • I agree, it is like with every new change. People get used to it. However I like this change. Feels warmer and closer to the heart for me.

  • Leconte Lee

    I think it’s a smart move. I would much rather “like” a post instead of “favoriting” it. I use the favorite button sparingly…reserving it for “top” content.

  • I will still use the button, but I usually used the star button like a bookmarking tool – mark a tweet as a fav so I can go back and read it later, respond to it later, or mark it so I remember to buffer it for a client later. I understand that a heart makes it easier for new users to “get” what it can do, but I am guessing that it is not the way most current users used that button. To me it feels like Twitter is trying to be more like Facebook – and not in a good way. I like my sites to be different I use theme in different ways.

  • Eva Gantz

    Personally not at all happy about it—I don’t mind it myself, but the animation is a huge accessibility problem for some Twitter users with disabilities (migraines, prone to seizures, sensory sensitive). See these tweets for more info: https://twitter.com/project1enigma/status/661694183888044032

    I think it’s sad that Twitter isn’t taking accessibility into account when they change a feature.

  • I always used favorites in two ways; first, to bookmark a post and second, to show appreciation to someone sharing my content or a nice thought. I agree that for the latter reason, a “like” is more appropriate (as well as to support posts you come across), but it would be nice if there was a second option to just bookmark a tweet! The casual Twitter users will probably appreciate the name change, since most people understand “likes”, but they may not get that liking something also bookmarks it (nor may they want to bookmark tweets). I feel it would make more sense for Twitter to split these two functionalities up, and maybe keep likes public and the bookmarks/saves private (like lists can be).

    • I’ll second that Erin (although I only really used Favourites to bookmark a tweet). I much prefer to reply if I find a tweet interesting/funny/useful etc and actually engage in a conversation – just faving/liking it and moving on to the next one seems rather lazy and impersonal to me.

    • Makes a ton of sense, Erin! Does seem that a bit of the bookmarking aspect might be gone now. Would love to hear if you continue to use it that way or find another method!

  • Meredith Gould

    I’m part of the “core crowd,” possibly because I’ve been on Twitter since 2008 for personal and professional use. But then, I’m still mourning the loss of the #FailWhale which some people know nothing about! #Sad&Old

    • Haha, I remember #FailWhale fondly! 🙂

  • I didn’t notice the change from star to heart. I think it is a fair bit of touch that is mostly endearing.

  • Christy Largent

    I like the hearts. 🙂 I LOVE them on Periscope, so of course the crossover is perfect. Even my 8 year old son “gets” the hearts. He’s always looking to see how many hearts he’s getting on his periscope while he’s scoping. So fun.

  • My exchange with a friend regarding the change of a star to a heart:

    • Interesting point! I see where your friend is coming from. I wonder if the issue is the heart vs. the color of the heart (which universally represents “love” — not like). Perhaps they might consider changing the color of the heart to yellow – or something like that… Great discussion! 🙂

      • Ahh, yes!! A yellow heart might just do the trick!

    • Really interesting convo, Lana! Seems like I’ve heard that sentiment come up a lot from folks! 🙂

  • naureenamjad

    The icon of heart has emotional undertones, as if you are loving it.. while start seems neutral

  • mimranyameen

    Favoriting something was more neutral and didn’t have to mean you actually agreed with it, like a bookmark. Thanks Twitter for narrowing down how I can use your service.

  • Annelize Spies

    I LOVE the hearts! I used favourites as ‘likes’ anyway, so the hearts are more applicable I think. Twitter can get rather negative and mean at times, so perhaps the hearts would lighten things up a bit. Would be cool to see a comparison in engagement a few months from now.

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  • Now people are going to want a dislike broken heart on twitter…
    I do like the change to heart/like and think the public and new users will find it more familiar. Have a fun Friday Kevin! 🙂

  • fav

    I feel like a 12 year old girl listening to my chemical romance when omitting this heart thing. terrible.

  • I think it’s a brilliant move and in fact, absolutely necessary.

    Except for the few who actively engage in discussions on Twitter, the experience was one-sided for too many people. Hence, content creators have no means of getting social validation in a quick and easy form. Especially if you’re starting out, getting retweets might be really difficult for those who want to build an audience.

    Likes on the other hand are cheap and I bet there will be whole lot more engagement (leading to social validation) as a result of that.

  • Great post. I personally, miss ‘favorites’. The new hearts and the notification saying ‘Likes’ resonates with facebook a lot and twitter crowd doesn’t seem to like it a lot.

    People on Twitter somehow think they are superior to the ones who use just facebook and hence this change is somewhat threatening to them. 😛

    Thanks for the post though.