Facebook Reactions: Do You ‘Like,’ ‘Love,’ or ‘Haha’ Them?

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By: Casey Adam, Account Executive of The PA Chapter of The Alzheimer’s Association 

Reactions have finally arrived. Facebook users can hover over the like button and choose from six different emoji reactions: love, haha, wow, sad, and angry. When our friends write a post about the flight they missed at an airport or their beloved pet passing away we no longer have to awkwardly ‘like’ it. The reactions give us a way to express a wider range of emotions when a ‘like’ feels inappropriate.

Facebook hopes that this new feature will drive user engagement. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook users have been posting less on the social network but “liking” more. The shift from desktop to mobile is likely responsible for this change in behavior. With a smaller interface, users are less likely to type out a status and are more inclined to casually browse, like, or quickly share a post. The reaction buttons will function as a quick and easy way to further engage with posts on the newsfeed.

I found myself wondering why Facebook chose the five emotions that it did. Why didn’t they pick something like “meh,” “yay,” or “sarcastic eye roll.” As it turns out a lot of effort and research went into the final five reactions. For over a year Facebook has been studying how people express themselves on the social network through emojis, comments, and word choices. Facebook also conducted surveys and focus groups after consulting a University of California Berkley professor who specializes in non-verbal communication.

Since its unveiling, the reaction buttons have had mixed reviews. Many avid emoji users like myself love it because it makes Facebook easier to use and adds a fun new element to newsfeed browsing. Others are less thrilled, feeling that Facebook is late to the party. Critics argue that emojis have been a part of our lives for years so why is Facebook adopting it now? Some others are still disappointed that there is still no ‘dislike’ or ‘hate’ button.

Despite the mixed reviews there is one group that will undeniably benefit from these changes: advertisers. More response options built into posts equates to more data points that can assess and optimize communication strategy with consumers. Businesses can now expand their sentiment analysis and further understand how users feel about their brands and the content they publish. They can access a reaction count by simply opening up the Facebook insight tool. “Reactions gives businesses a really crisp way of understanding on a multi-dimensional level how people are feeling about the things that they’re posting,” said Richard Sim, Facebook’s director of monetization product marketing. However, advertisers are advised against measuring their success by the number of “wows,” “loves,” “sads,” “hahas” and “angrys.” According to Adage, Facebook measurement should focus on clicks, specifically these types: clicks to visit a site, clicks to install an app, clicks that link to in-Facebook apps, and clicks to watch a video on another website.

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