Twitter is planning to remove the ‘Favourite’ button from tweets and replace it with a version similar to that of Facebook's 'Like' tool.
Certain Twitter users noticed earlier this week that they were seeing the terms ‘Like’ or ‘star’ appear when hovering over tweets, rather than the traditional ‘Favourite’ option.
At the Internet Advertising Bureau's Engage conference in London on Thursday, Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo confirmed this was a decision by the firm to offer users a more ‘lightweight’ option to highlight tweets, which will help firms using Twitter for branding purposes gain more traction.
“We’re testing some alternative terms for favourite. Favourite feels a little bit too heavy weight so we’re testing some lighter weight terms,” Costolo said.
“Engagement begets engagement. The lighter weight and more frictionless you make it to engage, the more engagement you’ll get.”
The favourite button has been a feature of the site for several years, but it was only in May this year that Twitter decided to give it increased prominence on the site.
At the London show, Costolo also revealed that Twitter is now serving up half a billion tweets per day from its 140 million active users. This peaked at around 8,000 tweets per second during the first US presidential debate.
Costolo also moved to downplay concerns that Twitter is encroaching on the role of publishers and broadcasters.
“We don’t compete with traditional media, we bolster and enhance traditional media,” he argued.
“The 140 characters is a caption, quite often it’s a caption that points to some deeper analysis or video.”
Costolo cited the London Olympics as an example. He explained that when NBC, the broadcaster with sole rights to the Olympics in the US, decided to show an Olympics event six hours after the live action, and the result had already been tweeted hours earlier, the ratings for that broadcast were still at a 36-year high.
“People were seeing the discussion about the event on Twitter and reminding themselves to watch it that night,” he said.
“Though that might have been something to do with the city putting on a fantastic event,” he quipped to the London audience.
Costolo also gave some insight into how he runs the company, inadvertently revealing his micro-management tendencies. He explained that every job offer that Twitter makes has to be signed off by Costolo, which seems a little excessive for more junior roles.
His staff also pore over any potential employee’s Twitter account to check it meets their criteria. For example, they would think twice about hiring someone whose Twitter account has only been active for a few weeks, as they might have only set it up to get the job rather than truly embracing the organisation and its ethos.
“I think it’s great that people use that as a measurement of how suited they are to Twitter as a company,” Costolo enthused.
Madeline Bennett is editor of V3 and The INQUIRER. Previously, she was editor of IT Week. Prior to becoming a journalist, Madeline was an English teacher at a London secondary school. Madeline is a regular technology commentator on TV and radio, including Sky, BBC and CNN.