What Do Facebook’s ‘Reaction’ Buttons Mean For Brands?

6 min read by tom 9 Oct 2015

FB Buttons

There was a lot of hype this week surrounding the possible introduction of a Facebook ‘Dislike’ button. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Thursday that the company was “working on some kind of dislike button.” However, it turns out that Facebook is in actual fact just testing out a new feature, called “Reactions”, which in a nutshell give users the ability to respond to any post with a choice of six emojis.

Reactions Gif

Facebook announced, “We are beginning to test Reactions – an extension of the Like button that gives people more ways to share their reaction to a post in a quick and easy way. We’re excited to start this test, but understand that this is a big change, and one that we want to make sure to get right” – Chris Tosswill, Product Manger at Facebook

These emojis will sit alongside the traditional thumbs-up and represent love, haha, yay, wow, sad, and angry. Facebook is currently only testing the feature in two markets; Ireland and Spain, with Reactions being available on both mobile and desktop, for all posts.

“Facebook is typically a positive experience. It’s a great way for people to communicate with each other and for brands to communicate with their community. Using Facebook ‘Reactions’ to express feelings is much more in line than a harsher choice between a “Like” and “Dislike” button.” – Shep Hyken, Customer Service Expert.


Facebook Dislike

What Does This Mean For Brands?

While Facebook “sees this new feature as an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are responding to their content on Facebook” you can’t help but think how this will affect brands. With a wealth of new sentiment available to Facebook users, it’s worth thinking about how this will impact businesses that rely on the social network to amplify their content.

There is no doubt that this new feature will encourage users to become more comfortable with sharing and interacting with content that they don’t agree with. This could and likely will lead the Facebook newsfeed to show a much more realistic representation of the world we live in.

Usually, when pushing out content on Facebook, there will be a percentage of your community who will engage actively, another percentage who may feel the desire to leave a negative comment here and there, and usually, more often than now, the majority who will see your content and feel unmoved to ‘like’ or ‘comment’ on it, these users would probably simply ignore it. However with a much wider choice of reactions becoming available, this large percentage of silent users may just find a voice and start becoming more vocal on your page. This isn’t necessarily a problem if your community becomes more vocal in a ‘good way’, for example, sharing laughter, yay or love. The risk for brands is of course, if this usually silent audience becomes vocal and starts to share their feelings in a way which is negative or detrimental to your brand. It is important to note at this point that, just like you cannot remove a ‘Facebook like’, you won’t be able to hide from the ‘Facebook Reactions. Therefore if people express anger towards your page, you are going to need a team dedicated to actively manage this to ensure you deal with these reactions.

“As for customer service, brands will definitely start getting much more realistic feedback. Adding these “emotional” responses will allow brands to spot trends in customer sentiment as well as give them the ability to react to customers that express sadness or anger.” – Shep Hyken, Customer Service Expert.

So what do you do? A good starting point would be to invest in tools that are able to pick up the sentiment of your social audience. Start to monitor what provokes the negative vs. positive reactions and work towards adjusting your content accordingly. Secondly, make sure that your ad targeting on Facebook is accurate. If you are boosting posts, or advertising actively on Facebook, ensure the content is going to an audience who finds it relevant to prevent it annoying the users who find it irrelevant. For those that advertise on Facebook, an important thing to remember is that as of yet they won’t be separating these reactions, “Metrics that include Likes in ads reports will also include Reactions.” However, these won’t be broken out as individual Reactions. If you want to get a sense of the reactions to your content, you will need to do so in your Page insights. Lastly, Facebook will treat reactions the same as ‘likes’ for ad delivery, meaning that one won’t necessarily carry weight over another.

Although this seems like quite a minor change, if not managed correctly it could see a few brands in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. It is worth being ahead of the game and ensuring both the content and the adverts you push out are relevant and sensitive to your audiences likes and dislike.

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