Facebook Launches New ‘Reactions’ Feature

03 March 2016

After years of requests for a ‘dislike’ button on Facebook, the site finally expanded its options last week beyond the traditional ‘like’… but yet again, a dislike button did not appear. However, the site has introduced five new ‘reactions’ for consumers to use in response to posts from their friends and brands.

As Facebook explained, “We’ve been listening to people and know that there should be more ways to easily and quickly express how something you see in News Feed makes you feel. That’s why today we are launching Reactions, an extension of the Like button, to give you more ways to share your reaction to a post in a quick and easy way.”

Rolled out internationally, the reaction buttons are now like, love, haha, wow, sad and angry. Mobile users can access the reaction buttons by clicking and holding the ‘like’ button and then choosing one of the reaction buttons. Desktop users access them by hovering the mouse over the ‘like’ button and selecting one of the reactions that pops up.

The reaction buttons have been brought in because, for many statuses, clicking ‘like’ is not always suitable. It has become, amongst many users, a universal way of expressing many emotions that include solidarity, sympathy or anger, and this can feel highly inappropriate at times (“My cat is sick” “Like!”; “I got really bad service in a shop today!” “Like!”). Having a range of options gives users more freedom to respond in a way that feels more genuine.

For marketers using Facebook, the reaction buttons add new nuances that could turn out to be useful in measuring responses to posts.

For the time being at least, reactions to posts are counted as ‘likes’, in that, according to Facebook, “if someone uses a reaction, Facebook will infer that person wants to see more of that type of post”. This suggests that the algorithm will treat an ‘angry’ or a ‘wow’ response as it previously treated a ‘like’.

In terms of Facebook Insights, the platform’s in-built analytics for Page owners, it is not currently possible to see overall trends of the different reactions. The number of each reaction for each post is visible on individual posts’ Insights, but there is no differentiation between organic and paid reactions at this point, for promoted posts.

Over time, Facebook reactions could give marketers a better understanding of how their fans respond to their posts. Some people may feel more inclined to react now that they have more options at their disposal, while others will undoubtedly resolutely stick to the ‘like’ button rather than explore further.

However, overall, brands will be able to understand their audiences better, which should lead to more relevant and highly targeted posts; something that can only lead to improved results.