Hearts, Polls and Shares: An Overview of Twitter’s New Changes

With its switch from stars to hearts, many are left wondering, “Why?” when it comes to Twitter’s recent changes. Does Twitter have on rose-colored glasses? Some users appreciate Twitter’s evolutionary steps, while others may see it as a way for the social media giant to grasp at relevance in a fast changing world.

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The changes the company has made in recent months may not be groundbreaking, but they may affect individual and business operations more than they think. Let’s take a look at these three changes in depth:

Twitter Removes Share Counts

Share counts have served the Twitter community with a benchmark for popularity. It doesn’t necessarily affect peoples’ ability to share information and use Twitter to start trending topics, but it does prevent individuals from seeing the relative impact of their posts. They can see favorited information but not how many times a post was shared.

From a technical standpoint, the company has switched database systems from “Cassandra” to “Manhattan.” Manhattan doesn’t support tweet counts. Twitter’s explanation yields more information about why tweet counts, “…don’t represent accurate performance, only perceived performance…” Tweet counts don’t highlight the overall impact of conversation, including replies, quotes, and URL variants, making them an unhelpful way to measure success.

What This Could Mean for Users

For people and businesses that don’t rely on Twitter to deliver information to a targeted audience, the change may not matter much. For those who heavily use Twitter as a content dissemination tool, however, the change will likely have far-reaching implications. For instance, some businesses use tweet shares to note how well-received content is and prove their worth in social media. It may not offer comprehensive analytics, but it does offer a snapshot of perceived popularity – a valuable commodity in the social world.

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Our own Twitter share counter. The new changes left the prior share count visible, however it no longer updates. While this isn’t, by any means, the most important metric of success for a piece of content, it certainly was useful.

Twitter Introduced “Twitter Polls”

People love quizzes, polls, and surveys. It’s a proven way to boost engagement on websites, which may hint at why Twitter has added them to its lineup of offerings. Twitter Polls allow anybody to get public input for any number of questions. Forget the magic 8 ball. Find out what the crowd thinks and prefers with a simple poll posting. Can’t decide on dinner? Make a poll. Want to see what people think right now about the 2016 election? Make a poll. With millions of users on the social media platform daily, you may never have to make a decision on your own again.

While the feature hasn’t been in the marketplace long enough to see real results on its use, Twitter Polls promise a better reception than the removal of share counts. Businesses may find that the technology provides countless new marketing opportunities, from finding out how a product launch went to supporting research and development endeavors. Competition from digitalization may be fierce, but it’s never been easier to find out what your audience wants.

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A charming Twitter Poll from ex-Googler and HomeBrew.co founder – Hunter Walk

The Latest Change – Hearts Are the New “Lucky Charms” of Twitter

Instead of clicking on “stars” to favorite a tweet, users will now click on “hearts” to like them. Favorited stars often help users save content for use later, which could make it difficult when the symbol indicates a “like” for all intents and purposes.

Twitter’s Blog States:

We are changing our star icon for favorites to a heart and we’ll be calling them likes. We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use, and we know that at times the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers. You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favorite.

The hearts may take a social media moment for users to adopt, but ultimately don’t present a meaningful change to the platform. Hearts provide a more universal symbol for liking something online.

Look for the hearts on Twitter’s Vine and Periscope, as well. Some people still have mixed reactions of the shift, believing the likes and hearts too closely resemble other social media platforms *cough* Facebook *cough*. If you really want to find out what people think, you could always create a Twitter Poll and find out! Regardless, the change will likely face an easy adoption process overall.

Are You Using Direct Messaging?

The removal of direct messaging limitations is another change that isn’t as recent but has influenced the way users interact on the platform. Users who prefer private Twitter interactions may enjoy the chat-like feature of direct messaging today. Instead of a limited 140 character message, users explore the goings-on of the Twitterverse without limitation. However, if you send direct messages through SMS, the 140 character limitation still applies. So, enjoy the direct message extensions inside the application, but not through texting.

This change has been out since late summer 2015 and may make the platform more flexible for public and private interactions. Some individuals still wonder if an actual messaging extension wouldn’t be better than funneling messages into a private backchannel, but many have accepted the change with open arms. It facilitates communication in the same way as a messaging app, but the asynchronicity allows for a much more flexible dialogue.

The Ongoing Evolution of Social Media Platforms

Twitter has to keep innovating to stay on top of the social media game against its competitors. Facebook seems to continually unveil new features and extensions, slightly shifting the way users interact with the platform.

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“They changed it to a heart?! There are polls now!?”

As users start to become more comfortable with the platforms, changing them slightly over time gives the interface a fresh feel while adding value to the user base. The one thing most platforms probably shouldn’t do is make a lot of significant changes at once. People need change, but they find comfort in familiarity.

Speculation on Twitter’s motivation for these changes?

Some users claim these updates come from Twitter’s need to make more money after going public in 2014 (Check this article out from Search Engine Watch). Others give credence to the notion that all companies are shifting in an effort to make their mobile experience more rewarding.

Whatever Twitter’s end goal is, something positive has come out of each of these changes: it has gotten people talking. The more people post blogs and articles and tweet about Twitter, the better off the company is. It’s all brand awareness and marketing for one of the largest social media companies in the world. What do you think about the recent changes?