By Alicja Gados

No longer just a like button: Facebook expands on emoji reactions to complement the popular ‘Like’ feature. 

After some pressure from users, who felt that the ‘Like’ button wasn’t enough to express reactions to posts, Facebook has recently unveiled it’s latest upgrade: the emoji “Reactions.”  These have been at least a year in developing and became live on Wednesday February 24.

While a ‘Like’ button is a nice response to some posts, a post stating good news, like passing an exam, photos of exotic vacations or adventures, it is not appropriate for some posts that are more negative in nature.  Users wanted a button that allowed them to express empathy better.

Users can still respond to a post with the ‘like’ button or with a comment. But now, hovering over the ‘like’ button on your desktop or laptop or holding down the ‘like’ button on mobile will show an expanded menu that allows you to choose from six animated emoji ‘reaction’ icons, composed of: Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry.

An example of a post that could warrant a more specific reaction from users. The ‘Wow’ reaction could be appropriate in this case. Taken from the Sunshine Village Facebook page. Image courtesy of Facebook.

An example of a post that could warrant a more specific reaction from users. The ‘Wow’ reaction could be appropriate in this case. Taken from the Sunshine Village Facebook page. Image courtesy of Facebook.

These additional emotions are extensions of the ‘Like’ button instead of a replacement.  They complement the ‘Like’ button by allowing the user to express their emotions more fully.  Users will be notified of the reactions to their posts the same way they are notified of ‘Likes’.

When people respond to posts, users can now express themselves in greater detail without having to comment.  The founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, has said that the company has received considerable pressure from users for a ‘dislike’ button for some time.  They have resisted making it because it’s a tool that would easily allow users to criticize others, and Facebook didn’t want to facilitate a tool that would spark negativity.  The goal was to broaden the spectrum of emotions including sympathy and reflection of negative feelings on those types of posts.

How they were developed

The reaction icons were designed with care, using focus groups, surveys, and they even with professors specializing in non-verbal communication at University of California, Berkeley.  

These Reactions are now available in nine countries. Initially, they were rolled out in seven countries: Spain, Chile, the Philippines, Columbia, Japan, Ireland and Portugal. Now they are available in North America.

Additional room for expression

People don’t always post things that don’t warrant a ‘Like’ – some posts are used to express frustration or disappointment, or perhaps a negative life event.  Users, who wanted to acknowledge friends posts that were more negative in nature, were put in the awkward position of having to ‘Like’ a post about a death of a loved one or similar negative posts the same way they would ‘Like’ a positive event, such as a purchase of a new car or departing on a vacation.  People post a variety of things, from good to bad, things make them sad, happy, angry, surprised.  Users can now express empathy instead of having to ‘Like’ a sad post.

This strategy is designed to help Facebook boost clicks and interactions.  Initially, they were concerned that hiding the Reactions symbols behind the like button (they will only be displayed by hovering over the like button) could make them hard to find, but so far this hasn’t been the case, as users are responding to these Reactions and responding more frequently to post than they did when they were not available.   

Outside Magazine posting a humorous article, garnering the appropriate emotional reaction. Taken from the Outside Magazine Facebook page. Image courtesy of Facebook.

Outside Magazine posting a humorous article, garnering the appropriate emotional reaction. Taken from the Outside Magazine Facebook page. Image courtesy of Facebook.

Improved information

The Facebook algorithm will become even more specific. This means if you click on a certain emoticon, the system will register that you would like to see more of these types of posts, and will display them to you in your feed. 

The most popular reaction has been “Love” – across all countries.

‘Love’ is the most popular emoticon. Taken from the World Wildlife Fund Facebook page. Image courtesy of Facebook.

‘Love’ is the most popular emoticon. Taken from the World Wildlife Fund Facebook page. Image courtesy of Facebook.

Are the new emoticons useful to marketers?

Since initial reports show that the Reactions are helping boost engagement, marketers can find out how their audience is responding to their posts. Reactions can be used to generate more detailed data on how your audience feels about your products or services. These Reactions are already being used by huge brands like Dominos Pizza, Taco Bell, General Electric and World Wildlife Fund (source: smallbiztrends.com).

General Electric uses it to broadcast the science behind its climate change information campaign, and the World Wildlife Fund uses it to disseminate information about it’s endangered animal campaign.  The Reactions are perfect for these types of causes, which are associated with strong emotions.

To use these in business, you have to understand how your audience will react to your post, and how your audience communicates with these emojis.

The feedback can be leveraged to improve marketing initiatives. Advertisers can get better feedback from their posts, giving a better indication of target consumers’ preferences.

Here are some tips to make these Reactions work for your business:

·      Encourage your audience to use Reactions. On your next post, invite your fans to test the feature. 

·      Give incentive to use Reactions.  A good idea is to combine use of reactions for contest entries.  For example, post your contest and ask your audience to “Love” the post, and mention that one user who “Loves” the post will be selected to win a prize, to boost engagement.

·      Use it to avoid negative reviews. When there is a problem with your product or service, simply post on your page allowing users to select “Angry,” showing that you acknowledge the problem and assure them that you are working to resolve the issue.  This will allow people to react angrily to your post instead of leaving negative reviews.  For example, if your restaurant is closed unexpectedly or if you run out of popular menu items.

Do you plan to use Reactions for your business?

Further Reading

Forbes.com forbes.com/sites/kathleenchaykowski/2016/02/24/facebook-no-longer-just-has-a-like-button-thanks-to-global-launch-of-emoji-reactions/#7b0f06794994

Forbes.com forbes.com/sites/roberthof/2016/03/07/facebook-reactions-emojis-are-hits-once-people-find-them/#51c22003603f

Social Media Examiner socialmediaexaminer.com/facebook-reactions-what-marketers-need-to-know/

Small Biz Trends smallbiztrends.com/2016/03/new-facebook-emoticons-marketers.html

 

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