Here’s Why You Should Pay Attention to Twitter’s New ‘Like’ Button

Swapping out the star for a heart might seem like a superficial change, but it matters to marketers. Here's why.

It’s official – Twitter has killed off the “Favorite” and replaced it with a “Like.” Along with a terminology change, they also swapped out the star for a heart. And while this might appear to be a superficial change, it’s going to impact marketers in a big way.

More likes, more users

For starters, it’s important to understand the likely reasoning behind Twitter’s decision to change the icon.

Twitter has had a problem with user growth since its IPO. Part of this is no doubt due to the somewhat confusing syntax (What’s a RT mean? Why do I need to use the @ symbol?) that newbies have to learn in order to join in a meaningful conversation. The new “Like” works towards changing that.

Thanks to Facebook, Liking something has become ubiquitous. It is something that consumers instinctively understand. And you can bet that Twitter made the decision to rebrand the favorite so that more new users would “get” Twitter’s functionality off the bat.

So what does this mean for marketers? If Twitter has its way, this move (combined with other initiatives from reinstated CEO Jack Dorsey) will bring new users to the service. And that means new consumers to see your tweets.

Tweeting for an audience that is new to Twitter requires a different strategy than tweeting for an audience that’s been around for some time. Once the impact of the Like button and other initiatives have been felt, you may need to adjust your strategy to welcome newbies – reducing the number of hashtags in your tweets, for instance, or linking to beginner Twitter how tos for more visibility.

A positive, universal appeal

A heart has emotion built-in. A star? Not so much. Plus, hearts are internationally recognized as symbols for love and positivity, while a star may have different meanings in different cultures.

Going forward, Liking something on Twitter will have emotional implications. There will probably be fewer people using Likes as bookmarks, and more people using them to express positivity towards the content of the tweet they are Liking.

Marketers managing a Twitter account may begin to see more Likes of the positive, share-worthy content they tweet.

On the flip side, if people begin to use Twitter’s Like button like they do on Facebook, marketers might also encounter something less-than-optimal: fewer retweets and replies. If their audience feels that Liking their tweet is “good enough” to show that they appreciated its content, they may be less inclined to retweet to show the same sentiment. This could mean less reach and exposure to new audiences.

Time to dust off your favorites strategy

Whether you’ve been using favorites as part of an engagement strategy, to say thank you, or just to save great tweets, it’s time to reevaluate.

Consumer behavior is going to change on Twitter, and while the change might be subtle, the marketers that can adapt quickest will benefit.