Why Twitter needs a ‘Like’ button
In the past few years Twitter has turned into the social network of choice for real time information. Most news outlets refer to Twitter when looking for quotes on stories or for input from their audiences. The # (hashtag) has become ubiquitous now thanks to the micro-blogging company. Hell, almost every new TV show now sports a hashtag (#) on the screen to encourage their fans to Tweet about the show. Even Nielsen is jumping on the bandwagon and will begin using Twitter as a way to measure ratings for television this fall. While Twitter may have started out revenue free, they’ve since begun making changes to monetize. Recently they’ve started limiting the amount of third-party Twitter apps, forcing external Tweet formats when embedding Tweets outside of Twitter, and selling sponsored trending topics and Tweets. Users now see these ads within their timelines on the web and in their mobile apps. One area I believe they’ve dropped the ball, not only from a user standpoint but in advertising as well, is with a “Like” button (or something similar).
From The User’s Perspective
As a user, there’s currently a way for me to “save” a Tweet if I want to view it later using the “Favorite” button, but at present there’s no easy way for me to navigate through those saved Tweets or organize them in any fashion. I have “Favorites” from years ago that are buried so deep, it would be a daunting task for me to ever retrieve them. If Twitter changed the “Favorite” button to a “Like” button, it would not only provide the same function as the “Favorite” button, but it would open up other dynamic uses to Twitter that don’t exist today. For example, let’s say a person I’m following Tweets something funny or says something I agree with. The options I have now to show my approval are to either respond with a Tweet to that person with “lol” or “I agree”, or I could Retweet it to my followers. Both options require me to involve other parties (either the Tweeter or my followers). I could also “Favorite” the Tweet, but that’s worst than the other two options if it’s just something I want to show my support of but never reference again. Maybe it’s just me, but I always feel a little pressure to respond to people just because they’ve responded to me with a quaint message.
However, with a “Like” button, not only can I passively show my support or approval of a Tweet, but Twitter could keep a tally on how many people “Liked” the Tweet (publicly or privately), which could be useful to the person that Tweeted it (and Twitter) in a number of ways. The person can receive passive positive feedback to their Tweets letting them know just how many of their followers appreciated or liked the Tweet that may not have wanted to share it on their timeline. At the same time, the person is getting feedback on who is actually reading their Tweets from those that may not do a lot of Tweeting/Retweeting. Passive use of Twitter, e.g. people that read Twitter but never actually Tweet, accounts for a huge chunk of Twitter users and could give those users a voice with very little effort. Twitter could also implement an elegant way to reference and organize Tweets that you’ve liked. Your “Likes” would be public to all by default or the user could set them to private, only to be seen by the person who originally posted the “Liked” Tweet. The tally of total “Likes” would still be publicly available but the user’s profile name/image couldn’t be seen if set to private.
What’s In It For Twitter
The benefits of a “Like” button are not only good for the end-user, as Twitter could find multiple ways to both monetize and make Twitter a more attractive platform for brands and users. By taking a page out of Facebook’s recently launched “Graph Search“, Twitter could improve its search features by integrating “Likes.” This could also be used to help Twitter present better targeted ads to users based on keywords used in their public likes. It also could be used to determine more accurately what ads are actually being seen if users choose to “Like” a sponsored Tweet rather than Retweet it. I’ve never Retweeted a sponsored Tweet, but I may be more inclined to “Like” it if it was something I found of interest. Using the numbers from Retweets and “Likes” could prove to be a powerful metric for advertisers and business accounts.
Having a way to “Like” a Tweet without actually talking to anyone may be my own anti-social fantasy, but it could also make Twitter more efficient. Everyone has experienced that one Tweet from a certain celebrity or news source that is Retweeted ad-infinitum into their timeline. Similar results could still be achieved without all of the spamming of your followers’ timelines with redundant Tweets. Granted, this could reduce the amount of Retweets, which in turn limits the amount of potential eyeballs, but the trade off in my opinion would be worth it. I can’t be the only one… would a “Like” type button improve Twitter for you?