It’s Time For Twitter To Dump Favorites

Why is this taking so long? Twitter: Switch from Favorites to Likes. You'll thank me later.

The Verge

Over the past few months, Twitter has experimented with changing the “stars” to “hearts,” in an effort to further define Favorites. It’s time to take it a few steps further, though.

Nobody really knows what Favorites are supposed to be used for. They’re sort of a microcosm of Twitter itself — intentionally undefined; used differently by different people. Some use them as a bookmark, some use them as a “like,” and some use them as a way to say “I’ve seen this.”

Well, enough A/B testing. It’s time for Twitter to make a bold product decision and not only change the star icon to a heart one, but also change the name from “favorites” to “likes.” Likes are woven into the fabric of the Internet, and Twitter is missing out by not joining the party.

Just like how Twitter won with @s, #s, and following, Facebook has won with likes. Facebook aside, they’re also used on Vine, Periscope (both Twitter-owned properties), Instagram, Slack, etc. They’re everywhere — but Twitter.

One big reason that hundreds of millions of users have tried and given up on Twitter is because it feels like they’re talking to an empty room. Users post, and they don’t know if anyone is seeing it. It’s significantly harder to get a Twitter favorite than a like on Facebook or Instagram. That’s confusing and discouraging to people trying Twitter for the first time.

Social apps like Twitter rely on little endorphin boosts from feedback within the product to spur engagement. It’s their oxygen. Users don’t get nearly enough feedback on Twitter. It’s no wonder why their user growth has slowed.

Aside from increasing feedback users get on their posts, adding likes would also improve consumption — users would feel more engaged and invested in a product in which they’re actively participating. Twitter would also have more data to mine to learn about what users like, which is massively important in order to surface tweets that are specifically tailored to people.

I think tweets would have more likes than they ever had favorites, and I think it’d send a clearer signal as to what feedback a user is trying to convey. As I mentioned above, favorites are used in all sorts of ways. Switching favorites out for likes would make the data clearer.

It may seem like a small cosmetic change to some, but I believe that replacing favorites with likes would be a great leap forward for Twitter.