Don’t Like Twitter’s new ‘likes’? Numbers Show You’re Lying!

Red heart | Social Media | Thunderbolt

The internet is a fast-paced thing, with patches and updates and tweaks and changes being implemented on various sites multiples time a month (or even a week!) and whilst many of these often go unnoticed, larger changes always manage to garner attention from users, especially when the site that’s altered is one of the social media giants, such as Twitter. So how has one of Twitter’s more drastic changes affected the user base and their browsing habits? The social media team at Thunderbolt take a look…

Twitter’s decision to change their ‘favourite’ option to ‘like’ (as well as changing the symbol from a star to a heart) was initially met with a large amount of backlash, though this in itself is hardly surprising, as any social media site that changes any long-standing feature will be invariably criticised by their user base for doing so. However, despite the strong negative reaction online to the change, it seems that in practice Twitter users have actually embraced the change, with Locowise finding that there’s been over a 27% increase in like activity since favourites were ditched.

So why would this be? Locowise’s Sahail Ashraf explains that ‘People used to star stuff on Twitter because it was an easy way to lock onto tweets they wanted to check out later… This is a great idea for news-based tweets for example. People could simply star their notable news tweets that had floated into their stream and keep an eye on events’. So, it seems that Twitter’s old ‘favourite’ feature lent itself a degree of organisation and exclusivity which meant that users might have used to be more selective about the tweets that they favourited, and might have used the feature for saving tweets and stories that they wanted to view or engage with in greater depth later on. However, the shift to a ‘like’ feature removes this feel of selection, and brings to mind the ‘like’ feature on Facebook, where liking is used simply as a means of showing approval (or support etc) rather than actually keeping track of or organising stories you find in your news feed.

So Twitter’s relaxing of their features looks like it’s lead to greater interaction and engagement, though Twitter users that use the site for news and relied on favourites to keep track of things (for example journalists) may find themselves in a bit of a tight spot (Ashraf speaks of how awkward it is to ‘heart’ a tweet about a tragic news event instead of ‘starring’ it). Perhaps Twitter may now have to follow in Facebook’s footsteps and implement a way to save links for later review.

What do you think about Twitter’s decision to change favourites to likes? Have you found your Twitter habits changing because of this update? Join the discussion and let us know what you think over on Twitter!

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