Facebook reactions – predictions and top tips for brands

February 26, 2016Uncategorized
Claire Austin, Head of Audience, Sydney

Claire Austin, Head of Audience, Sydney

Another week and another product release from Facebook. This time it’s ‘reactions’, otherwise known as an extension of the ‘like’ button.

This year so far, we have already seen announcements about Instant Articles and Facebook Messenger for brands which generated the general round of review articles and excitement in my newsfeed, however, nothing compared to what hit my newsfeed on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook on Thursday morning. Everyone (including myself) has something to say about Facebook’s latest release. Could this possibly be the biggest UX change from Facebook in years? Potentially yes, and it’s not just big for users, it’s big for brands.

In 2009 Facebook’s ‘like’ button was born and everyone got ‘like’ happy. We are all victims of scrolling through our newsfeed and liking a bunch of ‘stuff’. (I say ‘stuff’ given that generally we are scrolling so quickly, half time we don’t know what we are liking because we need to check Instagram and LinkedIn, of course, before we get to work.)

We have become accustomed to the little thumb and it makes our friends very happy when we’ve liked their recent holiday or baby photo, and it makes brands even happier – it’s verification that we do like you and your product. But now there are five other emotions people can play with, so what does this mean for brands? You are all wondering, how on earth can we keep track of these? How do we measure them? What do we do if someone expresses anger at our post – this is not in the community manager matrix?! Calm yourselves, these new reactions are actually a great addition for brands, just wait and see.

My predictions for reactions

– Brands will see a massive spike in engagement as Facebook users play around with reactions and use one for practically every post in their feed. Well who wouldn’t? It’s new and we have choice, and everyone loves choice!

– In about two months’ time brands will see a decrease in engagement as users get used to them being there, and Facebook releases a new feature that they become obsessed with.

– We will see chain reactions on brand posts. People love choice but they also can’t make decisions, and often just follow their peers because they don’t want to be wrong. So if someone ‘loves’ your post, chances are most other people will love it too.

– ‘Love’ reaction will be the most popular for a few reasons – it resembles Instagram’s like/love button and Twitter’s recent change, so people are used to that symbol. Also, we are a generation of expressing emotions and liking just won’t cut it any more, we need to love everything to really show people how we feel, right?

– ‘Wow’ reaction will cause brands great confusion. Was that ‘wow, that article was mind blowing’ or ‘wow, can’t believe you wrote that, it sucks’? Leave the cynic behind and try to see it in a positive light, as a good ‘wow’ unless you get negative comments in tandem.

– Comments will diminish and the world will be angry that we are only talking in emojis.

– Reporting is going to be a little more complicated. Facebook has confirmed that ‘all types of reactions will still be contributed towards a ‘like’, regardless of which reaction. Ads manager does not yet support these breakdowns. But ads insights will support these reactions.’ This is something I am sure Facebook will evolve given that an ‘angry’ reaction cannot be constituted as a like  – it is the complete opposite. All reactions are an engagement, so include all of them in your engagement metric and report on any posts that have a large number of ‘angry’ reactions, as this is a clear indication that your content is not resonating with your audience.

– One day in the not so distant future, brands will be able to design their own reaction for specific campaigns. Or here’s hoping!


Top tips for making the most of Facebook reactions

 – Embrace them! This is your opportunity to get a deeper dive into your audience and understand which content evokes which emotion. Does your content make people laugh? Do they     like it or do they love it?

– Use them for polls. Ask your audience what they think by expressing a certain reaction:  1 = Yay, 2 = Sad and 3 = Like.

– Use them for competitions. Rather than asking people to comment, ask them to express a particular reaction.

– Don’t freak out in two months’ time when your engagement rate decreases!

– Don’t try to use reactions for sentiment value. Sentiment is already hard to measure and will continue to be. You still need human analysis behind the understanding of these emotions.

– Test and learn. Create dark posts and test different copy and images to see what reaction it evokes and if making the changes does, in fact, change people’s reactions.

In 12 months’ time, brands will not know how they functioned without reactions, just like we’re not sure what we did before the ‘like’ button. For more social media insights visit King Content’s blog.