When Facebook launched a set of five new Reactions this year, they changed the game for businesses and marketers.
Instead of simply liking a post, social media users can now indicate a variety of responses, ranging from Love, Wow and Haha to Angry or Sad. This gives business marketers more opportunities -- and potentially more pitfalls -- as consumers judge their content, posting the icon of a thumbs-up, a heart or a tear at the bottom of each update.
"Like" Still Rules
Facebook is widely recognized by the iconic Like button, the thumbs-up that has been used in official branding and web interactions for years. Not surprisingly, the Like button still rules the platform. According to a study by Quintly, a social media analytics company, the new Facebook Reactions only account for 3 percent of interactions on the platform.
The reason the other buttons attract little use is two-fold. First of all, users are more accustomed to the Like button, and they're more inclined to use it out of habit. Secondly, the other Reactions require a two-step response. A user must hold down the Like button to see the other options before choosing another alternative to represent their feelings.
Avoiding Angry Reactions
With a seemingly infinite amount of content being posted everyday, the potential for Angry and Sad Reactions from users can be intimidating for business marketers. How should a business respond if one of their customers is Angry? The good news is that the Reactions have widely been used as a response to the content, not the content creator. Even Facebook said it would view every Reaction as an indication that users like the content and want to see more of it in their news feeds.
Businesses have found that users are tapping into the Reactions to show empathy for different types of content, reacting to funny posts, harrowing videos and good news with a range of emoticons. If users are angry with the business or the content creator behind the scenes, they often post in the comments.
The platform does make it tricky to interact with users who have visually reacted to a post though. When a user clicks the Angry button or Sad button, the Facebook Page moderator does not have the ability to tag them in the comments or send a message, depending on privacy settings. Facebook admins can usually only tag the names of users who actually comment on their posts.
Fostering Empathy Online
The move to Facebook Reactions is something users have requested for years. In the past, they posted comments on different types of updates, pointing out there was no "Dislike" button or asking for a button that would allow them to empathize with the content or the content creator. Although Facebook decided to limit the Reactions to simple expressions that would carry weight around the globe, they did create a way for users to share empathy on the platform in some small way.
The more users post Reactions, the more business marketers will have the ability to understand their audiences on Facebook. A high amount of "Love" is good for business, and the stronger Reactions may indicate that content is achieving its goal. An organization working toward change could be moving its audience if the content posted garners lots of "Sad" and "Angry" emoticons.
This is an opportunity for marketers to think about the kind of Reactions they want. The important part will be to engage with users who are showing high levels of interaction with the content. Not only will businesses have the opportunity to empathize with their client base, but they will also have the opportunity to create a stronger product based on what they learn through audience engagement.