March 14, 2016
If you’ve spent any time on Facebook recently, you’ve likely noticed that your timeline has gotten a whole lot cuter thanks to the addition of five new emojis that have replaced the old-school ‘Like’ button.
Welcome to Facebook Reactions.
Facebook has been testing the feature around the world for the last several months and users have been getting their first glimpses the past few weeks. While Reactions seems like an innocent enough feature, many marketers have some questions about how, exactly, it’s going to affect their marketing endeavors. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Reactions?
Reactions is pretty simple – it’s an extension of the Facebook ‘Like’ button. Before the introduction of Reactions, Facebook users could simply like, share or comment on a post. Now, users can hover over the “Like” button to reveal five emojis meant to convey different reactions to a piece. In addition to the “like” emoji, Facebook is now offering “love,” “wow,” “haha,” “angry,” and “sad.”
Why Does Reactions Matter?
While Reactions may seem like a somewhat arbitrary addition to Facebook, the mission to build the feature has been in the works for a little over a year. Facebook chose to add Reactions in order to provide its users with a more complex way to interact with Facebook posts. In a statement released on Facebook on Feb. 24, Mark Zuckerberg said, “Not every moment you want to share is happy…Our community has been asking for a dislike button for years…People wanted to express sympathy and…share a wider range of emotions.”
Before Reactions was introduced, people who wanted to interact with a Facebook post in a way other than ‘liking’ it had to type a comment on the story. This doesn’t seem like a huge inconvenience, until you take into account that 90 percent of the people who access Facebook on a daily and monthly basis do so from a mobile platform. While typing a comment may be no big deal on a laptop, it’s a different ball game on a phone’s tiny screen – especially for users attempting to engage in a conversation or share deep feelings about a piece. In light of this, Facebook realized that its huge mobile user base needed a nuanced way to interact with content and Reactions was born.
Four Ways Reactions Will Change Marketing
According to a recent Wired headline, advertisers don’t just ‘like’ Facebook’s reactions, “They love them.” Although the Reactions feature is still quite new, the general feeling about the change has been positive. While it’s undeniable that Reactions will have an impact on marketing, the general consensus so far is that it will be a positive one.
Here are the four ways that Reactions is most likely to change marketing right off the bat:
1. Facebook Reactions will offer more insight to readers’ feelings
Because Facebook reactions are so simple and expressive, they’ll provide an easy way for brands to gauge exactly how readers feel about their content or advertisements. Brands will be able to access Reaction counts through the Facebook page insights portal and adjust their content accordingly.
Too many ‘angry’ or ‘sad’ reactions may mean that you need to rethink your advertising or content strategy while an abundance of ‘happy’ or ‘haha’ Reactions likely means you’re doing something right.
2. Increased customer insight
Before Reactions launched, customers who came across a piece of Facebook content could choose to share it, write a comment, like it, or simply scroll right on past. The introduction of Reactions, however, creates a much more nuanced way for readers to interact with content and, since it makes interaction fast and easy, users will be more likely to interact with content.
Plus, since Reactions are meant to specify emotions such as ‘sad’ or ‘angry,’ brands can gain far deeper insight into how their content is affecting their customers, since the old ‘like’ button didn’t allow brands to determine if fans found their content shocking or amusing.
3. More streamlined content evaluation
Before Reactions, a Facebook publisher could look at a piece of content and evaluate reader response to it according to ‘likes’ and comments. With some content, however, evaluating comments is nearly impossible due to volume. Take this Humans of New York post, for example.
With more than 11,200 comments, it would be virtually impossible to comb through them all. Thanks to Reactions, however, you can simply click on the Reactions button and get a complete breakdown of how people (all 21,000 of them) have reacted to the article.
This feature makes it easier for publishers to evaluate their marketing content and gain instant insight into how readers are interacting with their pieces.
4. Reactions may affect Timeline algorithms
While there’s nothing solid to go off of right now, it’s possible that Reactions may eventually be factored into Facebook’s Timeline algorithm – with pieces that have received the most positive or controversial Reactions ranking near the top. This would help users gain access to talked-about content and share their two cents. Marketers will have to wait and see on this one, however, since it’s likely Facebook will do extensive testing before rolling something like this out to the public.
The Future of Reactions
While Reactions is still in its infancy, user response has been overwhelmingly positive. By providing Facebook users with a nuanced way to interact with content, and allowing them to do it quickly and easily, it seems like Facebook has hit this one out of the park.
As Reactions continues to settle in over the next several months, its affect on marketing will become more clear. For now, however, it seems obvious that Facebook Reactions will offer many benefits to marketers, including increased user insight and a more streamlined content evaluation process.
What’s your reaction to that? Let me know in the comments!
Julia McCoy is the founder of Express Writers, a serial content marketer, and bestselling author. A dedicated self-starter since an early age, by age 13, she'd written a 200-page book and taught herself Internet marketing. At 19, Julia dropped out of college and a nursing degree to follow her passion, teach herself online writing, and start her agency. Within two years, Express Writers grew by 400 percent, and today, Julia’s agency serves more than 5,000 clients. Julia is a bestselling author, the creator of The Practical Content Strategy Certification Course, host of the Write Podcast and Twitter Chat #ContentWritingChat. She just published her second bestseller, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, November 2017.