Twitter's experiment with promoting its Favorite button seems to have worked, and now it's looking to see what else the button can do. The company's latest experiment involves letting users favorite accounts — not just tweets — and can be found inside the most recent version of its Android app. Favoriting an account won't do much just yet, but it will begin sending you push notifications whenever that person tweets. The new experiment was originally spotted by Yahoo's Drew Olanoff.
Fav'ing accounts on twitter? Hmmm pic.twitter.com/SLOkziMYZw— drew olanoff (@drew) December 24, 2013
Twitter already offers push notifications for tweets, albeit buried inside a menu on user profiles. But the company has frequently experimented with re-launching features, and favoriting is likely no different. Most recently, Direct Messages were resuscitated as one of Twitter's most prominent features after having long been regarded as an afterthought. Favoriting an account isn't being positioned quite as front-and-center just yet though: for better or worse, turning on push notifications or favoriting a user's account doesn't show up in that person's Connect tab like favoriting a tweet of theirs would.
As with most Twitter experiments, favoriting accounts could disappear entirely
As with most Twitter experiments, favoriting accounts could either disappear entirely or eventually expand and make its way to the iPhone. At that point, it could have the same utility as it does today, or do something new. The feature could potentially allow you to show off your favorite accounts on your profile, CNBC's Eli Langer speculates. "Allowing a user to showcase their favorite accounts — if that is indeed the direction Twitter is taking — on their own profile by favoriting other accounts is the #FollowFriday on steroids," he writes. This kind of feature recalls MySpace's divisive "Top 8," which let users pick their favorite friends to display on their profile. Chinese Twitter competitor Sina Weibo offers a similar feature to this too, giving users a way to highlight accounts that they like, The Next Web points out.
Like the @-reply and the retweet, Twitter's Favorite button came to life as users saw fit. Now it may be up to Twitter to lead users toward where it should go next, but figuring that out is no longer much of a risk: the Twitter of 2013 uses tiny micro-experiments to test out its new feature ideas, using user feedback to help it figure out what should stay, what should go, and what should be tweaked. Some of those features could turn into the next retweet, while others may fall from the nest like discarded eggs.