Facebook has announced they are officially testing Reactions, an enhancement that is supposed to be a more nuanced approach to engaging with a post beyond just Liking it or not Liking it. After all, humans have more emotions than can be summed up with a simple binary option.
Reactions are rolling out just to Ireland and Spain for now and will be available on posts from individuals and Pages from publishers, businesses and more, including posts from advertisers. Facebook is selling this as an opportunity for Page managers to better understand their audience and how they feel about what’s being published.
What’s clear here is that this is NOT a “Dislike” button, which is what the internet kind of thought it would be when it was first announced a couple months ago. In fact there’s nothing here beside “angry” that even comes close.
So what can publishers do now? Not much, honestly. For now, Page managers will be able to see what kind of emoji Reactions people are sharing on their posts, meaning they will at least be able to draw anecdotal, if not actual quantitative, conclusions. While the network reminds publishers to follow their core best practices and post content that is “meaningful” to their audience, it remains to be see exactly how these new emoji-based Reactions will translate into Insights.
As this expands beyond its original test countries it will be interesting to see how publishers can actually use the data that’s provided to guide future posting decisions. Right now it looks like more nuanced emotions will mean more work for those who are tasked with diving into data since they will have to draw a lot of conclusions out of what it means when 27% of the audience used the “Wow” emoji, 36% used the “Love” and so on. But hopefully that means, once everyone becomes acclimated to this new paradigm, publishers will be able to much more carefully choose what they do and don’t post on Facebook.
Additional thoughts from Christopher Barger:
I’m optimistically hoping that this can begin to have a positive impact on the quality of what gets posted on Facebook — because as audiences have options to provide more nuanced feedback, the self-serving/overly promotional posts will start to track worse in a way that’s demonstrable. I think the end result is better content over time.
Again, it’s anecdotal and not qualitative feedback, but those who think “Like this post if you like ketchup” makes a good Facebook post, and who won’t post anything unless it contains product or branding, may get a stern wakeup call with this feature in effect.
More to come as more details are revealed.