For years, people could only engage with Facebook posts with a thumbs up or a comment, and the people liked it (because it was our only choice). Though people on Twitter have yet to realize it’s hard to have a meaningful conversation in 140 characters, Facebook has come to understand that people have more than one emotion.
After years of promising, Facebook has finalized introduced an engagement other than the like button. Last week, “reactions” on Facebook were launched, and the reactions on Facebook were pretty positive. Like other changes to Facebook, the initial question for business owners and marketers is how will this affect social media marketing efforts for a particular organization.
In a nutshell, the reactions are just emojis that can be used for engagement just how the like button is used. Besides liking something, Facebook users can also choose a yellow face indicating if they want to show a variety of emotions.
Using the new reactions is simple enough. To add a reaction, hold down the Like button on mobile or hover over the Like button on desktop to see the reaction image options, then tap either Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry.
“We understand that this is a big change, and want to be thoughtful about rolling this out,” wrote Sammi Krug in a Facebook blog post announcing the international rollout. “For more than a year we have been conducting global research including focus groups and surveys to determine what types of reactions people would want to use most. We also looked at how people are already commenting on posts and the top stickers and emoticons as signals for the types of reactions people are already using to determine which reactions to offer.”
The impact of reactions on business owners and marketers is limited at best. There was a concern that allowing negative engagement (such as the sad or angry) would turn Facebook into a less positive place. Facebook’s research seems to suggest that isn’t a huge concern. And in truth, having a reaction for sad or angry changes little since people could have easily left sad or angry comments (or emojis) in the comments.
What is different is that you can delete and block comments, but the reactions seem there to stay once someone makes that engagement. So this could lead to a situation where a post gets a lot of negative reactions that can’t be removed (though the post itself could be). This shouldn’t be a problem for most businesses and individuals, but the larger the brand, the more likely there will be a few people who will negatively engage.
This is the case on YouTube, even the most popular videos will have 10,000 likes and 100 dislikes, there will be negative engagement and marketers shouldn’t let that freak them out unneccessarily. Now if a large number of posts have a high rate of negative reactions, then that is something that needs to be examined.
Facebook hasn’t explained what, if anything, they will do to prevent abuse of the new reaction system. Just as people can abuse the comment system, the reaction system can also become the tool of choice of disgruntled customers and former employees.
As for metrics, Facebook has said they will count all engagement as positive for the post. They reason that even if the reaction isn’t positive, the fact a person engaged shows interest in the content. This may be a little overly simplistic, but it helps business owners, so we probably shouldn’t argue. In time, Facebook will probably adapt the system to weight the reactions differently in determining the popularity of the content.
Facebook reactions are here, and it will take some time for Facebook, business owners and the public to decide how they will use these new tools to engage with brands and businesses. For more news about Facebook, read this article on Facebook’s expansion of instant access articles.