Why it’s difficult to heart Twitter’s new update

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Twitter’s new ‘heart’ update has been received with a wide variety of feedback; some love it, others despise the change. With an icon shift to something so emotionally recognisable, there are certainly a number of undeniable psychological positives. However, criticism has labelled the update as unwarranted - and there are certainly other factors that make it difficult to love...

On November 3rd 2015 , alongside this statement, Twitter released a small change to their interface that would have a big impact on how users interacted with each other through the network. By switching their old ‘favourite’ star icon to a heart and renaming them ‘likes’, they could have helped social media marketers in the ever-challenging world of performance measuring.

The reasoning...

The reason such a small shift can have such a large impact is due to terminology and visual stimulation. While the concept of a ‘favourite’ was challenging for some people - there are certainly a limited number of posts that one can consider a favourite - users are more likely to ‘like’ something. Twitter say that in tests it was loved; “the heart… is a universal symbol that resonates across languages… enabling you to convey a range of emotions and easily connect with people.”

Twitter have already shown us how much they love hearts on Periscope - so it's no wonder they have gone the whole hog and brought them to Twitter and Vine.

One thing Twitter didn’t realise…

One thing Twitter didn’t properly take into account is usability for people who suffer from a certain type of colourblindness. In apps like tweetdeck, the new heart is shown in red alongside the retweet button in green - two colour hues that those who suffer from the most common form of colourblindedness cannot distinguish between. Silly Twitter. Read more about that here.

Common reactions to the update…

As we mentioned earlier, not everybody thinks that the update was truly warranted. Alongside purposefully humorous tweets about flirting, some marketing big-wigs have expressed their dislike over the update, such as EVP and Creative Integration Director of Erwin Penland, Kevin Purcer, who said…

“Sure, it provides more consistency across social platforms, but it also waters down the meaning of interaction. To be a ‘favorite’ implies much more of an endorsement than a simple like, which was actually kind of cool and unique about it. But if consumers and more willing to ‘like’ content than ‘favorite’, it makes Twitter’s engagement rates more appealing to marketers who place a lot of value in such metrics.”

What do we think...

We believe Kevin could very well have a point. There was certainly something cool about favourites and their relative scarcity in comparison to Facebook likes. There is also the chance that as more ‘likes’ are generated, users will be less susceptible to retweeting - which is much better for increasing your brand’s reach.

While the update could certainly make it easier for social media marketers to set targets and measure the performance of their content, we can’t help but feel that something has been lost by completely ousting favourites. Sure, the addition of another degree of interaction on top of what was already there could contravene the Social Network’s relative simplicity, but we liked being able to classify something as a favourite.

What are your thoughts?...

Editor - 

Mark is our resident content marketing specialist, what this guy doesn't know isn't worth knowing. His biggest passion is for enacting positive social change through media. In his spare time he is also a keen comedy writer and singer.

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