What Does Twitter’s New Like Button Mean To The Agency World

Twitter recently changed the star shaped Favorites button to a heart shaped Like button. We spoke to Digital agency founders to help understand what they think about it and is there a business implication to it

Twitter, the social communications company (Thanks Re/Code for the new one liner for the 140 character social network) is busy trying to revamp its board. Now that it has completed its search for a permanent CEO, sources say that some of its long-tenured members plan to leave for new blood to join Twitter.

Additionally, CEO Jack Dorsey wants to diversify the board. While these changes might bring a fresh breed that Twitter needs but at the moment it is still struggling with stagnant user growth. In the recent Q3 earnings, Twitter’s user growth was up only four million from the second quarter, for a total of 320 million. The total is only 307 million when you discount “Fast Followers,” the people mostly in the developing world who sign up using SMS.

The factor that is worrying Twitter and its board is that US, it’s most developed market has drained. There has been almost no growth from Q3, 2014 and from 2015’s previous quarters the growth has completely stopped.

Twitter’s user growth problem has often been related to its inability to reach out to the masses like Facebook has done over the years.

Over time Twitter has tried hard to simplify the product or even tried mimicking Facebook at various occasions.

The latest to join the product roll outs is the replacement of Twitter Favourites to Like with a heart icon that looks more like a GIF. Earlier Twitter favourites had a star button but it has now been replaced by a heart being called as Like. The motive is simple - make Twitter easier to understand for new users.

“We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use, and we know that at times the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers. You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite,” Product manager Akarshan Kumar explained.

Twitter’s move brings consistency to its three major social networks. It’s also adding hearts to its six-second video app Vine (replacing the smiley icon), while its live-streaming app Periscope has used hearts since its launch last spring.

These recent product updates keep strengthening the feeling that sooner or later there won’t be much of a product differentiation between Twitter and Facebook.

So what does the latest Twitter ‘Like’ mean to the agency guys and does the latest product feature roll out mean anything more than standardization? Lighthouse Insights spoke to a few agency folks to get their view points; listed below are the edited excerpts.

Chetan Asher, Founder at Tonic Media

The move is clearly aimed at reaching out to a wider audience with actions that non Twitter users are familiar with. Heart as a symbol too has larger appeal than a star. Liking is a Facebook term and will resonate with audience who probably are non Twitter users currently. At the same time Twitter is risking losing its own unique action. This and other changes that Twitter already has or will bring not just in user experience, but measurement metrics, ad units and reporting may lead to some kind of loose standardization between platforms.

Rohan Mehta, Founder at SocialKinnect

In the wake of its new CEO, Jack Dorsey, the recent off-loading of employees and stock market concerns, Twitter has set its goals straightforward. Twitter needs to boast of a bigger user base and ‘show’ more growth and adoption to keep investors happy. Some easy steps towards that would include simplifying its UI to make it more inviting for new users. Twitter is inherently a cluttered space where one can easily get overwhelmed or lost. This is a move towards standardisation. People easily understand what hearts stand for. And if Instagram’s peaking engagement is anything to go by, hearts are people’s favorite.

I think the difference will be seen at a very macro level for Twitter. As for agencies and brands, this move doesn’t change too much. For the new users, this is certainly going to make Twitter look more inviting. The use of hearts on Periscope, a Twitter owned app, only strengthens the standardization case.

Varun Shah, Co-Founder at Eccentric Engine

One of the biggest utilities of Twitter used to be the favorite button. The fact that 36% of all tweets contain links, which you would want to bookmark for later reference made it a key part of Twitter experience. I would surely not ‘like’ an article on Syrian crisis but wouldn’t mind favoriting it for future reference. So, it seems like a move to adopt a FB feature without thinking through the larger context of how loyal fans use Twitter. And I don’t think it helps in making a new user familiar to Twitter, if that is the understood objective.

Chaaya Baradhwaaj, Founder at BC Web Wise

The new ‘Like’ button represented by a heart symbol is of course more expressive than the Favourite button. To a lot of users, the latter seemed to work more like a bookmarking icon. Whereas, the heart-shaped like button goes beyond that, adding a layer of positive emotion to the act. For marketers it seems like a welcome change, since users are more likely to ‘Like’ tweets, giving us more data to strategize and respond to the pulse of the audience.