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Should brands be worried about Facebook Reactions?

Written by Cat | 25-Feb-2016 16:39:00

Yesterday Facebook announced that
Reactions are now available globally to all users. 5 new emojis have taken their place next to our trusty thumbs-up, but what does this mean for brands? Does it echo the original concerns over a ‘Dislike’ button or does it offer brands unique access to public perception?

The ‘Dislike’ option has been shot down by Facebook multiple times at it was considered to be too negative, which is true. For brands it had the potential to do a lot of harm and not tell them very much.
Our users don’t like our posts, but we don’t know why. But users still wanted one, to show sympathy for a lost pet or dislike a public tragedy.

So why didn’t we get one you may ask? Because, according to
Geoff Teehan, Product Design Director at Facebook,

“it was time to go beyond the Like.”



Facebook argue that Reactions is “an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are responding to their content on Facebook.” Reactions allow you to see the full public perception of a post – who loves it, who hates it. Previously the only way to measure brand affinity was through likes and shares. Reactions give your audiences more ways to express themselves – you’ll be able to analyse that data and use it for targeting.

In fact Reactions inspire engagement. Everyone has an opinion, but commenting and sharing requires more than a second of input. Presented with Facebook’s emotional spectrum users can respond to everything in a moment.

So, with 5 new ways for your audience to express themselves, is there anything to worry about… No.

Our trusty thumbs-up is still an option, one that most users will continue to use. As users, when we check Facebook throughout the day we don’t do a thorough crawl each time – it’s a quick flick through to see what’s going on and therefore a thumbs-up is enough. And on the subject of being lazy, ‘Like’ is still your primary option – you have to hold or hover (depending on what device you’re using) to get the other Reactions and some people just won’t.

There aren’t any nasty surprises in the ‘newbies’ either:

It’s not surprising that Instagram’s ‘Love’ has made its way to its big-brother’s channel. Overall, it’s pretty much the same as ‘Like’, but perhaps slightly better. You’ll actually be able to ‘feel the love’ from your audience – and that sounds pretty cool.

For the entertainers amongst you, you’ll be rid of ‘LOL’ and ‘ROFL’ from your comments with the ‘Haha’ emoji. This will clean up your comments stream, making way for proper contributions, and you may also get some custom from those who think it’s just an excited smiley face.

‘Wow’ is a little ambiguous and the emoji looks like it’s had a bit of a fright, but fortunately the caption reminds you what this one is. Despite the confusing illustration, it’s still a positive expression to show admiration or appreciation for awe-inspiring posts.

‘Sad’ is the closest embodiment to the ‘Dislike’ button that users asked for. Some users are unhappy with what they’ve been given, but the ‘Sad’ emoji is actually better for brands. Sad demonstrates that you’re moved by something – you’re not sad at them, you’re sad
with them. It’s another great insight into audience sentiment and something to aspire to – to create content that really resonates.

‘Angry’ - this is the “scary” one, the one everyone is worried about … but they shouldn’t be. Think about it realistically, what content are you creating that will make people angry? This emoji will come into its own for politics and breaking news stories, but won’t have much use for brands. Unless you’re actively trying to anger your audience, which you won’t be, you’ve got nothing to worry about. And if you are silly enough to upset your audience remember, hell hath no fury like a consumer scorned – angry customers will always comment. Perhaps an emoji is better than a short essay – but we know you won’t do this anyway.

Facebook have spent a year researching and testing Reactions and they’re keen to see how people use them. They want to know your reaction to Reactions, so experiment. Test out different posts and review audience sentiment. You’ve now got an insight to an entire emotional spectrum – test, analyse and learn from it.