On Tuesday, Twitter made what might seem like a small change to their platform, but it was one that the whole world noticed and had an opinion on.
For years and years Twitter had offered it’s users a way to “favorite” a tweet with a small star icon. However, on Tuesday, Twitter said that in order to make it feel a bit more accessable as a function they would be changing the icon to a heart and calling it a “like” instead. They say that the heart can help convey more things than the star could and even created a nice little GIF to help illustrate their point:
— Twitter (@Twitter) November 3, 2015
Some people loved this and others feared the change. One thing is for sure though, everyone had something to say about it. That’s why we took to Sysomos MAP, our social intelligence platform, to take a look at the social media stir this change caused.
We started looking for mentions of Twitter along with “stars,” “hearts,” “like,” favorite” and different variations of each of those across social channels from Tuesday through Thursday of this week and found over 1.3 million conversations around the change. In that time, we found 12,771 blog posts, 62,889 online news articles, 2,176 forum postings and 1,235,832 tweets talking about Twitter’s change from stars to hearts.
Additionally, in those three days that we analyzed, we also found 193,211 online videos that were also talking about the change in Twitter’s platform.
To some, this change may seem like something very minor, but in fact, we found that people from all around the world noticed the change and made mention of it. A look at our geo location heat map of tweets shows that over the past three days Twitter users from all corners of the world were tweeting about it.
Not only were people from all around the globe tweeting about the change from a star to a heart, but we also found that people from all walks of life were talking about it. We analyzed what kinds of different groups were talking about this using our Twitter Communities tool and found that no one was left out of the conversation. If you look at the community map below we can see all of the different types of people and outlets that were talking about it. The large blue community is mainly made up of a bunch of official sources for news, such as CNN, The Wall Street Journal and The Verge, but also includes Twitter’s own official channels such as their TweetDeck, Twitter Mobile and Twitter Data handles. We even found Twitter’s CEO’s @jack handle in that group. The green community is made up of celebrities and super popular Twitter accounts who were talking about the new hearts, such as Ariana Grande and the @1DTheNation handle, which is a fan account dedicated to 1Direction. While these groups are all very popular accounts that we expect to see as conversation drivers, the orange community below is actually made up of regular everyday Twitter users that were also driving conversations around this change. It appears that everyone had something to say about this.
Now that we realized that almost everyone had something to say this topic, we dove a little deeper to find out what they actually thought of the change.
Looking at our buzzgraph we found that the most strongest connection between words was between “Facebook” and “changing.” This was because a lot of people were saying that by not just changing the symbol, but changing the vernacular from “favorite” to “like” made it feel like Twitter was trying to become more like Facebook.
This is evidenced by the tweet from AdWeek:
— Adweek (@Adweek) November 3, 2015
Other heavily retweeted tweets around the subject included a lot of GIFs and memes seemingly joking about the change. The most retweeted tweet on the subject is the one from the official Twitter handle embedded at the top of this post, but the second most retweeted tweet was this one, which also is representative of most other highly retweeted tweets:
What happens every time you 'like' something on Twitter from now on. pic.twitter.com/CwSsrrmwvq
— J. Skyler (@jskylerinc) November 3, 2015
Some people didn’t take the change as well as others. We explored what hashtags people were using when talking about the change from favorite to like and while most were descriptive type tweets to join a conversation, of the top 10 hashtags being used, we found that the 9th and 10th most used hashtags were ones of people who felt a certain nostalgia for the star they had been so used to using. These people were using the hashtags #BringBackTheStar and #RIPTwitterFavorite.
Lastly, we thought that we would see what the sentiment around the heart and the star have been over the past three days. We changed our search a little bit to focus in solely on talk of the buttons and analyzed the sentiment around both the new and old buttons. What we found here was that sometimes people don’t always deal well with change. People have been talking fondly about the old star button format, with just under 75% of all conversations about it being positive. However, when we looked at conversations around the new heart, the sentiment seemed a little more split. Positive mentions around the heart just slightly outnumbered negative mentions around it. This may just have to do with people still needing to get used to the change though.
Whatever the thoughts around liking or favoriting or hearts or stars are, the change is likely here to stay. The interesting thing about this change though, will be to see if changes the behaviours of Twitter users. It’s a bit early to tell now, but social media practitioners should keep an eye on their tweets to see if the new heart leads to more or less interactions with their content over the next few months. This will be an interesting topic that we’ll look back to in a few months.
In the meantime though, we want to know your thoughts. Leave us a comment and let us know if you think this button change is going to change the way Twitter users interact with tweets.