I was an early adopter of Twitter. I signed up only a year after it launched, which seems like an eternity now, but social media as a thing was still in its infancy. In fact, here in Lethbridge, there was only a handful of people using it, and we used it more as a chatroom to chat with each other.
In the 8 years I’ve been on Twitter, I have seen a lot of changes. (It didn’t even have hashtags when I signed up.) One of the changes I’ve witnessed is the evolution of the favourite button.
Originally, use of the feature was limited to a bookmarking feature, saving something for future reference. In fact, that’s precisely how I used it.
Over time, however, I began to notice that people started favouriting tweets of mine that didn’t seem worthy of bookmarking (for example, if I had said thank you or thanked them for mentioning me on a follow Friday).
I didn’t think much of it at a time, but it started becoming much more common. Once I started managing corporate accounts, then I saw that it wasn’t a practice just common among my followers. Now that I’ve been managing multiple commercial accounts, I see that it has become quite commonplace.
While I think some Twitter users still use the favourite button as a bookmarking tool, I get the sense that most use it for something else, like a like button but more.
In my experience, Twitter followers use the tool as a way to say thank you, as a way to show agreement, in a way similar to a like button, as a way to strengthen their support for something they retweet, and as a way to engage with content that they don’t want to retweet.
Was the favourite button designed to be this robust, or do people use it this way because no other options exist?
I ask because if users adapt something because of a lack of options, perhaps it’s time to consider expanding the toolset.
One consideration would be to create a separate bookmark or save button as way to mark specific things for later, kind of what the favourite button used to be used for.
Another would be a thanks button. Rumour has it, actually, that the favourite nearly debuted as a thanks button. This would allow people to have a feature for actions they already take on the service.
Perhaps one more feature would be something like a like button on Facebook and LinkedIn and the heart on Pinterest.
Or they can just keep it as is, and let people use favourite however they see fit.
What do you think? Should Twitter expand their favourite button to a more robust toolset, or should they keep it as is? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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