Facebook has begun the roll out of its new ‘Reactions’ feature which is the much vaunted response to the age old clamour for a ‘dislike’ button. Users in Ireland and Spain (lucky them!) are the first to get access. Apparently these two markets have been picked as test beds for the functionality as they have fewer international connections than other markets Facebook operates in, as well as – in Spain’s case – allowing testing of how the emoji based reactions will go down with non English speaking users.
You can get an idea of how reactions will work from Facebook’s launch video:
So how will it work?
When ‘Reactions’ lands in the UK at some unspecified point in the not too distant future (exactly when will depend on the results of the aforementioned testing) the chances are it will be enabled for individual users’ accounts first, with Pages (the homes of businesses and brands) following on from that.
As well as having the ability to “Like” a post, users will also be able to react using five other emotions: “love,” “haha,” “yay,” “wow,” “sad” and “anger” – each coming with it’s own friendly emoji.
Posts will include a tally of how many of each reaction has been applied to it and it’s worth noting that each user will only be able to apply one reaction to a post – so you won’t be able to ‘like’ and ‘yay’ the same post.
What will it mean for me?
Well, aside from your friends on Facebook being able to react to your posts in a load of different ways, the big news as I see it is how brands and businesses are going to handle this functionality being enabled on their Pages.
Online commentators are already pointing out how reactions has the potential to be misinterpreted and it’s still not clear what the implications will be in terms of the algorithms Facebook uses to push posts out into user’s news feed – it could be that a post with a greater number of ‘angry’ reactions gets given less weight by the algorithm than one with the same number of ‘wow’ reactions, but of course those reactions will be determined by the content of the post and the make-up of a Page’s audience.
There’s also the potential that the new system is open to abuse…
If, as expected, Facebook incorporates Reactions information into its analytics package, we’ll have access to a much more granular level of data through the analytics dashboard. This will help massively with things like promoted content targeting, as well as developing an understanding of a Page’s audience as a whole.
That said, it also opens up the engagement metric – something which is currently pretty hard and fast – to interpretation as to what a user’s sentiment was when they clicked on a particular reaction, so it will be important for Page owners to consider how they want to use and measure this data (as well as the weight and credence they give to it) in advance of it rolling out to their Page.
So, that’s our initial reaction to ‘Reactions’. There’ll be plenty more head-scratching as it takes hold in the UK in the near future. Before then the message for brands and companies is to prepare by understanding why your audience is engaging with you through Facebook in the first place. Then you’ll have a good idea of what they want from your content.