If you’re on Facebook (and lets be honest, you are) you’ve surely noticed by now the new Facebook Reactions feature.
Rather than being simply limited to the now iconic “Like”, Facebook now lets you engage with a post by reacting in one of six ways: Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, or Angry.
For the longest time, users have been begging for a dislike button. Being limited to only liking and commenting on a post made for some awkward engagements.
For example, if your friend shared a post about the recent death of a family member, liking that post would seem pretty inappropriate. The only other way to acknowledge your friend’s loss would be to comment on the post with, you know, words.
Facebook knows that those words take time and, as awful as it sounds, our attention spans shrink more each day and users wanted a faster way to share their negative feelings towards something.
They also know that adding a simple “dislike” button would be bad for their customers, the brands and businesses that pay them billions for ads to pop up in your feed, as negative engagement on those ads would no doubt increase.
Because everyone “dislikes” ads.
Reactions is Facebook’s answer to this problem and, as a business owner, it is something to be excited about. Why?
Detailed customer feedback
Until now, user engagement on Facebook has been limited to 0 or 100, with nothing in between. They could either Like your post, or simply ignore it.
And what does a Like tell you anyway? Why does your follower like your post? Do they love your new outfit? Did your cat video make them laugh? Are they sharing in your sadness and expressing condolences for your loss? Are they also angry about your favorite sports team trading away their best player?
All of those reactions were previously contained in one button. Now, you will be better able to gauge the responses of your audience, and how they really feel about the content you’re sharing.
Increased accuracy for targeted advertising
Facebook makes money by selling ads. It wants you to be successful in running ads on their platform so you keep throwing money their way.
One of the basic necessities of successful ad campaigns is knowing your audience. The more data Facebook can gain from its users, the more it knows about them. It then makes it easier for you to run increasingly targeted ads, improving conversion rates, and lining their pockets with more cash.
It’s simple really.
These Reactions will tell Facebook more about its users, their likes, dislikes, habits and personality traits, which they will pass on to publishers and advertisers. At a cost, of course.
There are, however, some legitimate concerns.
It complicates things
As it stands now, the feature is hardly intuitive. On desktop, the Reactions only show up after you hover your mouse over Like for at least a second, or after you’ve already clicked Like.
On mobile, you have to actually hold down the Like button for the Reactions to appear.
This could create some serious confusion for old and new users alike.
As well, it increases the options users have from two (like or comment) to seven.
By increasing the amount of options users have to engage with content, Facebook may actually reduce engagement levels across the board.
Instead of just clicking Like, you are now asked to decide which of six different emojis best fits your emotional reaction to a post. Imagine putting that kind of thought into each post as you scroll through your feed. It won’t happen.
Decreased engagement is the last thing that Facebook wants, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
But perhaps the hottest take on this so far comes in satirical form from the always hilarious Stephen Colbert:
What do you think about Reactions? Does it make you want to delete Facebook entirely? Are you excited to use it, or is it another misguided attempt by Facebook to gain more data from its users?