- Twitter is letting brands customize the hearts viewers of Periscope videos use to signal they are enjoying live and on-demand broadcasts, according to a Twitter blog post. Custom hearts can appear throughout the duration of videos, and viewers can send them by tapping the screen. Custom hearts mix with Periscope's typical multicolored hearts.
- TechCrunch reported that brands can design the custom hearts in partnership with Twitter before they launch. The custom hearts are seen on Periscope videos watched via Periscope or Twitter. They're activated by a specific hashtag in video titles. Twitter declined to disclose the cost of the customization program.
- Custom hearts can also be be integrated into pre-roll ads in brand sponsorships of broadcasts.
Twitter’s custom hearts are indicative of how social media platforms are strategizing brand amplifications in areas that have been largely untouched to date.
The rise of live video might offer more brand tie-in opportunities such as the custom hearts but also carries risks as a format. TechCrunch pointed out that Twitter had a brush with controversy when it rejected a custom hashtag campaign centered on #CrookedHillary, an episode that could seemingly be repeated if divisive custom hearts are banned.
The publication posits, however, that the partnership vetting process could help alleviate those sorts of controversies. A greater risk could result from custom hearts floating across live broadcasts veering into territory that induces brand discomfort. The drive to avoid such brand safety messes could dent the money-making prospects of Twitter’s custom hearts.
NBCUniversal is the first company to experiment with custom hearts, and the company has steered clear of any blowback so far. Its custom hearts were incorporated in a live video to promote "The Fate of the Furious," the eighth installment in "The Fast and the Furious" movie franchise.
Custom hearts don't actually have to look like hearts at all, and NBCUniversal shaped its heart into an F8, per the movie's focus on muscle cars. Twitter emphasized these sorts of tailored hearts give brands an opportunity to capture a high number of engagements and allow fans to express enthusiasm in a branded way.
The custom hearts epitomize the increasing reach of symbols across live video and other social media-first formats to pique consumer interest and participation. In addition to custom hearts emblazoning Periscope live and on-demand videos, TechCrunch noted Facebook Live has gussied up its broadcasts with emojis and Twitch encourages animated emoticons to suggest cheering.