Why Twitter Should Let Users Save or Bookmark Tweets For Later

A UX perspective on why saving or bookmarking tweets to read later is good for the user experience and for business.

Sarah Doody
8 min readDec 30, 2016


In January 2008, I signed up for Twitter after a friend recommended it because he heard … it was going to be big.

At the time, Twitter users were largely early technology adopters, which was gold for me. I had just moved to NYC that summer and Twitter allowed me to engage with the NYC tech community as well as have access to and learn from people all over the world.

So when Jack Dorsey, the current CEO of Twitter and one of its co-founders, recently asked users what they wished Twitter would do or improve in 2017, I had to share an idea I had.

My problem with consuming the amazing content I find on Twitter

I use Twitter as a source of news and work related content. Like many people, I glance at Twitter off and on throughout the day. Normally, I’m too busy to stop and read an interesting article, watch a 15 minute TED talk, or write a thoughtful email to someone I’d like to partner with or get to know.

Twitter is a curation tool for me, but I can’t always stop and consume content when I am in curation mode or in the middle of something.

To solve this problem, I’ve used the following methods to save tweets over the years:

  • Emailing tweets to myself
  • Saving tweets to my Instapaper account
  • Opening links from Twitter in a new browser tab
  • And using Twitter’s ❤️ button

But, the fact that I haven’t been able to adopt one method is indicator that none of these methods are a good solution.

That’s why I suggested Twitter introduce a save or bookmark feature that is a distinct and different action from heart-ing a tweet.

I had no idea that my idea of allowing Twitter users to differentiate between something they like versus something they might be interested in and want to save or bookmark.

There were a lot of reactions on Twitter to the idea of introducing a save or bookmark feature. So I thought this would be a good chance to explain why I think this is a good idea so that people who are learning about UX can get inside the head of a designer.

Why it makes sense for Twitter to differentiate between liking and saving tweets

Before the ❤️ button, Twitter had a ⭐️ button.

In the Twitter vocabulary the star was intended to mean Favorite. But, in November 2015 Twitter changed the star to a heart because, in their words:

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.

- Akarshan Kumar, Product Manager at Twitter

When Twitter launched, having separate actions of saving and liking would have been overkill. It certainly would have been confusing for users.

But now that more and more long form content is being shared and discovered on Twitter, the idea of distinct actions for a public endorsement of a tweet and a save or bookmark feature makes sense.

In fact, we’ve seen other platforms introduce their own save or bookmark features recently.

In early December, Instagram introduced the idea of Saved Posts.

Each Instagram photo now has a little Bookmark icon at the bottom right. And users now have a spot where they can see all their Saved Posts, which are only visible to the user.

I find this extremely useful. Sometimes I see things on Instagram that I actually want to refer back to — a recipe, an interior design idea, a travel spot — Saved Posts allows me to have a special spot to put these things. Otherwise they get lost in a sea of things that I’ve given a heart to.

Prior to Saved Posts on Instagram, I would take screenshots of things I wanted to remember. But of course, then the screenshots get lost in a sea of photos on my Camera Roll.

Facebook added a Save feature back in 2014. Users can save posts, links, and places.

What’s helpful about Facebook’s Save feature is that it reminds you about things you saved.

This is a really useful feature because it’s easy to forget to go and check back on the things you saved. But the reminder increases the chances that I actually go and engage with and consume whatever it was that I saved.

Medium also has a bookmark feature to let users save articles to read later.

Again, very helpful for all the reasons that I just gave for saving things on Facebook and Instagram. But, I do wish Medium would email me once a week or something to remind me about things I’ve bookmarked.

The save for later feature is becoming a familiar user behavior as more and more mainstream platforms introduce it. Therefore, if Twitter were to introduce it, there would be little to no learning curve for users.

Why saving tweets through other services doesn’t solve Twitter’s problem

There was a lengthy discussion that followed on Twitter about my idea for bookmarking tweets or having a save & read later functionality.

Many people suggested that we should use services such as Pocket or If This Then That to save tweets.

I completely understand these suggestions. As I mentioned, I actually save tweets to Instapaper using their Chrome extension. This works well for me, but there are two problems that I see.

First, I often save things to Instapaper but then forget to return to Instapaper and read or watch the things I saved. So I wish that Instapaper would send me a weekly digest of what I’ve saved to remind me to go back and actually read it.

Second, I’m not sure I want to save my tweets to a place that’s outside of Twitter.

Yes, services such as Instapaper and Pocket are extremely useful. One of the main benefits of Instapaper and Pocket is that they allow me to save articles, videos, etc from sites that I simply stumbled upon and may never visit again, or at least not visit every day.

But for services I visit frequently, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, I want the things I save to stay on that platform.

If I visit a platform weekly or daily, I shouldn’t have to go off to another service to view the things I saved or favorited. It’s actually more friction for me to visit a separate site to view the things I saved from Twitter.

Platforms that people visit frequently should always be thinking about how to keep users coming back.

By letting people save things on the platform, users will eventually be trained to save and return to view the things they’ve saved. It’s very helpful to the user and gold for the platform in terms of user engagement metrics.

Why Twitter needs to find a way to keep people on Twitter

It’s widely known that Twitter isn’t performing as investors had anticipated. One of the problems Twitter has is with its ability to make money. As of February 2016, Twitter said it has lost $2 billion since launching a decade ago.

At a basic level, in order for advertisers to want to spend money with Twitter, they (the advertiser) wants to have a solid understanding of Twitter’s users. So how does Twitter develop an advertising profile of its users? That’s done through creating an interest profile based on user’s activity on Twitter.

But, part of the problem is that Twitter has a lot of people who create an account, but only stick around for a month or so, or worse, don’t don’t anything.

So if Twitter users aren’t doing anything, Twitter can’t provide advertisers with a good profile of who is using Twitter. And then, advertisers don’t want to spend money on Twitter.

How do you get people to be more active on Twitter? How can you get people to not just have a one tweet stand?

Twitter’s tried many things in the past including re-designing its user on-boarding. According to website, The Fool, Twitter’s third quarter letter to shareholders said that experiments with new interests based on-boarding process resulted in a 30% increase in new follows and mutual follows, and in increase in time spent on Twitter.

Sidenote: Here’s a breakdown of Twitter’s on-boarding from 2014, not the most recent, but still a great step by step breakdown thanks to the guys at User Onboarding.

Even if Twitter’s on-boarding proves out to help increase follows and time spent on Twitter, it may not be enough though.

Twitter has to focus on the front of the funnel (on-boarding) but also think about how to engage lukewarm users.

This is why the idea of a save or bookmark feature has the potential to help increase engagement and get users to come back to Twitter. If someone saves or bookmarks a tweet, that indicates a very specific interest and more important, intent.

Twitter could then email users a few days after they save something or use in app messaging to remind users about things the saved.

It’s just like e-commerce. When you save things or add things to your cart, you normally receive a reminder email. Sometimes it’s overkill, but with content I think it could be different. It wouldn’t feel less sales-y and more helpful because the reminder isn’t to go buy something, it’s to go read or watch that thing you saved.

What can we learn from #Twitter2017

There’s a misconception that user research has to be a long, expensive, and rigid process.

Many teams fail to do user research because of false beliefs. But this is a dangerous mindset. It’s better to do fast and frequent feedback than to never do any research.

When Jack asked Twitter what they wanted the company to improve or create in 2017, he got thousands of replies. AdWeek and Recode wrote good summaries about all the suggestions that Twitter users offered.

This is an example of just how valuable your users are when it comes to new product ideas. The caution though is to consider the context. You can’t just collect feature ideas en masse. You must take time to consider why someone suggested something.

I’m one type of Twitter user. My Twitter is a tool for curating content related to my work and industry. So naturally, I will likely be interested in long form content that I find on Twitter. However, another users’ Twitter might look more like a grocery store tabloid. They might get all they need from a single tweet and have no desire to read the full article. That’s fine. But, a feature I suggest would probably be useless to that type of Twitter user and vice versa.

The point is that any research is better than no research because you cannot afford to skip user research. But, you must consider the context of what you hear in research and not take everything your users say at face value.

Follow along with the hashtag #Twitter2017 over on Twitter to see what users are suggesting to Jack and team.

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Sarah Doody

I help UX & Product people get hired without applying to hundreds of jobs. Apply to Career Strategy Lab → www.careerstrategylab.com