Facebook has begun testing Facebook Reactions, their emoji based variants on the Like button. The Like button itself was a game changer when it was introduced. Along with the news feed, it formed the foundation of how we now discover and interact with content socially.
Why Facebook Reactions Matter
The dislike button has been a long requested feature, with most believing it to be the opposite side of the coin to Like.
The reality though is that human reactions are complex and varied. We “like” stories involving tragedy, conflict because that’s our only option. But we have even deeper reactions to updates and news involving our connections — those closest to us.
The like button has always been too simplistic of a reaction to really be valid. But not anymore.
What Facebook is doing though brings nuance to interaction on the platform, by not only giving options to express sadness and anger, but also happiness and love. The six reactions being tested are by no means exhaustive but they are now broad enough. They convey common things people feel when they read a story, they will fundamentally change the way we interact and share content.
We will move from “Ben likes….” to “Ben is angry about…” or “Ben loves…”. The conversation moves from “why did Ben like this” to “what angers Ben about this…”. It creates more conversation, and an opportunity to explore.
What It Means For Facebook, Publishers, and Business
From a Facebook perspective, the outcome is greater interaction and more data to be mined for targeting. This can be a good thing, with actual sentiment and emotion attached, the level of personalisation increases.
For publishers, this will be huge. While it has the potential to reduce commenting, with the nuance of opinion and reaction becoming a one-step process, it will also allow for a greater view of the public pulse on issues affecting them.
I see the biggest upside however to businesses, for a number of reasons, perhaps the most important being in customer service and crisis communications. Being able to see a range of reactions at a glance mean customer sentiment and pain points can be readily recognised and addressed.
From a brand perspective, it gets us away from cheap engagement pieces. You know – “like this picture because you like stuff”. New products can be easily fed back on from users. Smart businesses will be able to take advantage of this new kind of data point to shape interactions.
What will tie all of this together is of course analytics. The ability to measure these reactions in a way that makes sense will open up understanding and opportunity.
Photo credit: Adam Jang