What Your Brand Page Needs To Know About Facebook Reactions

After a long design and testing process, Facebook Reactions are global and here to stay. I am sure you have met them already. They are the new way to interact with other people’s posts on Facebook, in a way that makes expressing your feelings a lot more specific than the simple thumbs-up. Introducing ‘Love’, ‘Haha’, ‘Wow’, ‘Sad’, and ‘Angry’:
(did that line make you think of ‘Inside Out’ too?)

Facebook - Reactions from Seth Eckert on Vimeo.

These little emoji mean a big change in the dynamics of the platform, and marketers who use Facebook as a social media channel should be ready to learn how to turn them into allies.

Facebook Reactions are designed to increase engagement

Facebook Reactions - the design process | at Feedeo.io

The Reactions are the final result of about one year of testing, and also a solution that users have wanted for a very long time. The “like” button was simply not enough.

The only alternative when you see something that you don't like was to leave a comment, which takes more time and can be very uncomfortable from a mobile device. In fact, the increasing number of users who check Facebook from their cellphones might be one of the main reasons behind the Reactions.

To solve the problem of reacting to sad or unlikeable content, users used to ask for a “Dislike” button, but Facebook never supported this option.

"We didn't want to just build a dislike button because we don't want to turn Facebook into a forum where people are voting up or down on people's posts," [...] "People aren't looking for an ability to downvote other people's posts. What they really want is to be able to express empathy." (Mark Zuckerberg)

The new options needed to be something that allowed showing sympathy while keeping Facebook a positive and supportive community. They also had to be few, in order to keep them easy to use, and they needed a universal and expressive look.
For the sake of simplicity, for example, the “Yay” reaction was removed, since it wasn’t used as much as the others.

Most of the Reactions are positive, to the point of being even a little bit redundant. This is completely intentional, and it can benefit both Facebook and brands. The official explanation is that it's a way to make reactions "a force for good."

But the psychology behind this clever choice goes beyond that.

“Social science literature tells us that people experiencing positive events and emotions are more likely—and more motivated—to share those events and emotions with their social networks than those experiencing negative ones,” says Andrea Forte, Assistant Professor of Social Computing at Drexel University.

Therefore, by developing a tool that allows users to share the most common and universally expressed reactions on Facebook instantly, while keeping most of those reactions positive, they found a new way to increase engagement.

Facebook has not only run tests on users to decide the best options, the company has also conferred with several sociologist during the process.

On the other hand, Drexel's Forte says it is also because "social psychology goes against the idea that people are going to take advantage of a negative option in a social setting." Facebook is a place for public interaction, and because of that, most of what we want to share and see is positive.

In few words:

  • Reactions allow sharing sympathy and complex feelings quickly, without writing a comment.
  • They make interacting on Facebook from mobile devices easier.
  • The variety of positive interactions encourages engagement.

Brands can better understand their customers using reactions, and act accordingly

Example of users interacting with a brand

Reactions can help marketers measure exactly the way their audience feels about a certain piece of content.

Before, Facebook users had these options: ignore the status, like it, share it, or leave a comment. Reactions are a new kind of data which provides better insight than the likes.

On the other hand, there will be fewer comments. Reactions make it unnecessary to spend time typing in order to share certain feelings. Comments used to be a way to measure the page's performance qualitatively. Now, emotions can be measured through quantitive data as well. Keep reading to know about how to measure reactions.

All reactions are born equal

(But brands decide what they really mean)
Example, measuring the impact of a post

Now, Facebook doesn’t tell you how many people “liked” something. Instead, it’s how many people “reacted”.

“Our goal is to show you the stories that matter most to you in News Feed. Initially, just as we do when someone likes a post, if someone uses a Reaction, we will infer they want to see more of that type of post.” (Chris Tosswill)

So far, community managers will only be able to track reaction counts checking post by post. But it has been said that eventually, this data will also be visible on the Insights' dashboard.

All reactions have the same weight on the Insights, regardless of the feeling they convey. It is up to you to decide how to measure them, either as positive or as negative feedback. Make sensible choices based on the type of content you are sharing.

Will Reactions have an impact on Facebook's newsfeed algorithm?

Facebook's algorithm

There are some rumours that say Reactions could eventually factor into Facebook's algorithm.

“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 possible that loves or hahas may be treated differently. We’re going to learn this as we’re going through testing.” (Richard Sim at AdAge)

Still, at the moment, all reactions carry the same weight as likes, and this change is not expected to happen anytime soon. Facebook should undergo some thorough tests before adjusting the way their algorithms interpret each reaction.

It wouldn't make sense to just de-prioritize posts with more "Anger" or "Cry" reactions since they are not necessarily negative.

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