The day has finally come! We are no longer living in a world where the only way for Facebook's 1.49 billion users to quickly interact with a post is merely by giving it a "thumbs up." People are complex and nuanced. Feelings are complex and nuanced. Certainly everything that's shared on social media does not warrant a "thumbs up." In just one minute, 293,000 posts are made and 136,000 photos are uploaded. With so much content being shared, and a myriad of emotions naturally at our disposal, we want to express our feelings, and sometimes a simple "like" just isn't enough! In response to so many sad, disheartening and disappointing posts shared on Facebook, the community has been ranting about the need for a "dislike" button for years. It doesn't take much consideration to see that releasing a negative sentiment in an already cyber-bullying-filled world could backfire. Of course, the request for a "dislike" button came from a warm place, where people wanted to express that they didn't necessarily like that you're moving away, or that your dog died, or that you got a parking ticket. However, when you stop to break down your emotions further, "dislike" doesn't exactly express the sentiment you were feeling either. After more than a year of development, Facebook has finally opened your world to a whole set of emotions; the "Like" button is joined by "Love", "Haha", "Wow", "Sad" and "Angry" along with the animated emoticons to go with it. With Facebook's new rollout of "Reactions," users can express a more accurate feeling just as quickly as they could "Like" it previously. As marketers, validating our presence on Facebook has been measured by the number of likes we've received, so with 5 new sentiments moving the conversation away from just "Likes," what does this mean for us?
In my opinion, the new "Reactions" are actually a great thing for marketers. First, let's just acknowledge that the "like-count" will now be a total sum of all of the reactions, so you don't have to worry about it affecting your count. Moving on, in the past, having been limited to pushing out content that would garner us the most "Likes," we needed to be very mindful with each post so that a "Like" would be the appropriate action for validation. Now, we have the ability to vary our content and our approach to sharing it, so that we can elicit a range of sentiments from our audience and build a more meaningful connection. This means that content that we may have historically avoided because it wouldn't generate "like" engagement might now be more viable with the new range of emotional responses that are available to users. When Mashable shares a story about Apple adjusting the font spacing on the word "click" to keep it SFW, in the past, this would garner some thousands of likes; now, this story is racking up the "Haha"s , which holds a lot more value than a "Like":
Perhaps you wouldn't be so enticed as to click the story based on likes, but let's be honest, everyone could use a good laugh! When The Huffington Post shares a story surrounding Donald Trump continuing to gain traction in the polls, the last thing I want to do is throw a "like" on it, but I, along with many others, have some "angry" sentiments towards that information that can now be more quickly and easily expressed. The new "Reactions" are also a great way, albeit not always positive, to see how your customers feel about changes to your business. Starbucks recently announced a big change to their loyalty program , and "Like" is certainly not the only reaction they're getting from their patrons:
In addition to the thousands of comments, many in the Starbucks community are sharing their disapproval with "Angry" and "Sad" sentiments. This could open up a valuable opportunity not only for Starbucks to take note of more accurate emotional customer feedback, but for their competitors to check in on their competitor's customer sentiments and market to them strategically to try and win new business. Maybe there's an opportunity for Dunkin Donuts to jump in and highlight how easy it is to get a free cup of joe with "DD Perks" and maybe they'll throw in a few Munchkins on the side, too. With Facebook's new "Reactions" rollout, we can share more content that humanizes us as brands by evoking a wider array of feelings surrounding a particular topic. The reactions also provide valuable insights as to the sentiment surrounding your competitors at any given time. As it stands today, Facebook is not yet allowing advertisers to target based on "Reactions" to content; however, until they decide to change that, with a bit of extra digging, it can still provide a valuable opportunity for us to target our competitors' customers right when it matters most.