Reacting to Facebook’s New Reactions
March 4, 2016
March 4, 2016
Last week, Facebook made five new reactions available to all users. Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry joined the seven-year-old thumbs up “Like” icon as a way for users to react to a post with just the click of a button.
The new reactions are easy to access—users just hover over the “like” button on desktop or click and hold the icon on mobile devices—and they don’t clutter up the newsfeed with myriad emojis as only the three most popular reactions display on a post as users scroll through their feed.
We’re interested to see how the reactions factor into Facebook’s notoriously difficult to predict algorithm, especially as it affects brand pages. If a post gets many “Angry” reactions, does that mean Facebook will hide the post, or will it troll a page’s fans by showing it more frequently? If the network finds that users decide to navigate away from Facebook if they see a “Sad” post, will those posts be buried in the feed?
For now, Facebook assures brands that all reactions are weighted like the traditional “Like”, but with a big caveat (emphasis ours):
We will initially use any Reaction similar to a Like to infer that you want to see more of that type of content. Over time we hope to learn how the different Reactions should be weighted differently by News Feed to do a better job of showing everyone the stories they most want to see.
It’s only a matter of time before Facebook starts using the data from the reactions to inform its algorithm and change the game—again. So, what’s a brand to do? Here are some steps we’ve taken as our clients move beyond like and into more specific responses:
Monitor the reaction: Facebook makes it easy to see how many fans used each reaction, both in the Insights for each post and by hovering over each reaction on the post. All users can see the names of each user and the reaction he or she used on each post. Benchmark how your audience responds now for future comparison.
Develop content that elicits a specific reaction: While Facebook figures out what to do with the data provided by reactions, try new content to see which emotions your fans are prone to display. Try out a meme or lighthearted post to see if your fans are looking for a laugh. Many issues-driven organizations may find that anger or sadness are effective in driving action (or donations to their cause).
Planned Parenthood’s Facebook page is a great example of using a variety of content to generate different reactions. In one post, the organization shares information about the US Supreme Court hearing a case around access to abortions—which received 403 Angry responses. But another post, a cute “Hotline Bling” parody video shared from one of its chapters—got 84 Loves and 28 Hahas.
Now is the time to learn if what you think is funny makes your audience angry—or vice versa. This will be important information when the reactions influence your page’s performance.
Watch your ads: Reactions are also available to users on promoted posts and social copy. Seeing a lot of angry responses? It might be time to revisit your targeting and/or creative to make sure you’re not missing the mark.
Have fun! Personally, I’ve enjoyed being able to go beyond “Like” when scrolling through my feed. Sometimes, I want to indicate that I’m laughing at a funny anecdote or love a cute picture of my friend’s daughter playing in the snow. I can’t wait to see how users react to reactions as they become an integral part of the Facebook experience.