Last week, Facebook introduced perhaps one of its most long awaited updates of all time; their brand new Reactions. So long Like button – now, we can tell someone that we love their update, are angry at their status, are sad about their news…you get the picture.
In their accompanying blog, Facebook announced the new feature by explaining: “We’ve been listening to people and know that there should be more ways to easily and quickly express how something you see in News Feed makes you feel. That’s why today we are launching Reactions, an extension of the Like button, to give you more ways to share your reaction to a post in a quick and easy way.”
It’s not the dislike button that people have been yearning after for years but it’s certainly opened up new avenues for marketers and brands, particularly when we’re looking for genuine, truthful reactions to our content. It’s not a new tool; more an add-on to the much-loved Like button that many of us impulsively hit when we see an update that catches our attention. But sometimes, a Like just doesn’t cut it. Facebook has now faced up to the fact that its users are more expressive than they first accounted for and their new Reactions means we can show our true feelings with much more than just a thumbs up.
But what does this mean in the grand scheme of Facebook marketing and will these new Reactions prove useful to brands and businesses when analysing audience engagement?
Above all else, the brand new Facebook Reactions will help marketers gain a better understanding toward their target audience and key customers, meaning content can be tailored to their emotional responses. Let’s say, for example, that you post a photo of a recent conference you attended and it gains 10 likes. That’s great. But then the following week, you promote a link to a blog post you’ve recently published and it receives 100 loves. You don’t have to be a marketing genius to realise that this means your audience much prefers, in fact they love, to see engaging and insightful blog content on their News Feed. As social marketers, we should always be experimenting with different forms of content on our social channels but the new Reactions will give us a much clearer understanding of how our audience feels about our brand and our content.
These new emoji Reactions could prove more valuable than you think; in a way, they could be used as a significant feedback tool, perhaps making them the ultimate modern-day survey. Gone are the days where we have to send out questionnaires in the post to our fans to get their thoughts and feedback; now, we can get their honest views via the medium of emojis. What’s more, these views are more likely to be totally genuine as people like, love or click the sad face impulsively and quickly meaning there’s no time for deliberation. So along with a greater emotional intelligence, we’re now able to generate a stronger evaluation of our marketing efforts and what content does or doesn’t work well.
Positive vs negative
There’s been some backlash to Facebook’s new venture from a handful of marketing and social media professionals who think these reactions could be a slippery slope that allow customers and fans to tarnish a brands’ reputation with negative engagement. Sure: giving your audience unrestricted access to react in a negative manner to content is something that marketers might balk at. You may see an increase in bad comments and might have to face up to some home truths when people hit that angry button. But as marketers, we should see these negative reactions as an opportunity to better our content efforts, react ourselves to any pessimistic comments and, again, truly gain a better understanding of what our fans like and don’t like.
Targeted News Feeds
It’s not a secret that Facebook’s algorithm means only certain content appears on people’s timelines and News Feeds depending on what they engage with the most. It’s a sneaky way of encouraging you to put more paid-for budget behind content (thanks Facebook). But how will the Reactions change the content that we see when we login? According to Facebook’s Director of Monetisation, Richard Sim, it could change a lot: “Over time, we do expect to have a better understanding of how these different reactions impact what people want to see in their News Feed…so it’s very possible that loves or hahas may be treated differently.” What this means is that our feed is likely to change as the Reactions become embedded in our everyday Facebook behaviour. If you, for example, hit the ‘haha’ button more than any other, it’s likely that your News Feed will start to reflect this by showing you humourous posts over any other. For marketers, this could be bad news and could result in some content not being seen by your audience. We’ll have to wait and see on this point as Facebook won’t confirm nor deny until further testing has taken place but it’s worth bearing in mind.
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