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4 min read

Facebook Reactions: Why Should We Care?

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Emojis are everywhere. Over the last decade they’ve gone from being simple ‘smileys’ at the ends of messages and quirky images used exclusively by teenagers to occupying an entire keyboard on most smartphones. They are no longer just funny images; they’re a recognised part of language. Just the other day a friend was telling me how he had started a conversation with someone he barely knew using nothing but emojis, and the other person actually responded in kind! Now these well-known little images have assumed a new guise, and have taken social media by storm. Forget the long-awaited dislike button that never materialised, there are now five new Facebook reactions alongside the well-known thumbs up:

Facebook Reactions
The 5 new ‘reactions’

From left to right the new reactions are: angry, love, wow, haha, and sad. For all the initial scepticism (there’s a great article about that here) I think it’s a fairly safe bet that these five new reactions are going to become as familiar as standard emojis in the months and years to come, and there seems to be a pretty clear opportunity for marketers here as well.

Before I get to that I just want to demonstrate how important this kind of thing is to people, and hopefully in doing so you’ll see that they’re worth paying attention to. Take the example of Twitter when it changed its star-shaped ‘favourite’ button to a heart-shaped ‘like’ button. I’m an avid Twitter user, and I remember the outcry amongst the people I follow and Twitter users in general when the change was announced. People were saying that a heart conveyed a fundamentally different message to a star, so even though the actual mechanics of the button hadn’t changed, the significance had, and this mattered to people.

Now think about the interest generated by the new reactions. Within a few days I’ve seen numerous articles written about them and had several conversations with people about what they think about them, even stretching to a very first ‘love’ myself at one point. The buzz around this new feature should be enough to prove to you that these things do matter, and they’re worth paying attention to from a business standpoint.

The key here for marketers and advertisers is that there is now a great opportunity to target specific emotional responses to your content and to gage how far people are reacting in the way you expect them too. For this to be done effectively, you need a good understanding of your audience. Laura wrote a great post for our blog on understanding your audience last year, and you can use those techniques to great effect with Facebook reactions. Once you can understand your audience, you can give them content that you know they will have the correct response to.

On a very basic level, it is important to simply be conscious that people are now capable of reacting to posts in different ways. You have a very real incentive to produce content that people will react to in a uniform way – a post with a typical ‘You Won’t Believe…’ title could really benefit by gaining a load of ‘wow’ reactions, for example. It’s not like this is a radically new strategy – most content on Facebook already targets a specific emotional response – but it’s a boost to marketers already trying those strategies, and it’s a hint that this is really the direction you should be going in if you’re not already.

One final thing to bear in mind is that, at the moment, all the Facebook reactions have the same weighting as a ‘like’ in terms of contributing towards something appearing in news feeds. But in the future this might change, with some reactions being worth more than others. Don’t worry too much about this now, but remember to keep an eye on the situation in case something changes!

If you want to learn more about what your company can be doing to stay engaged with social media don’t hesitate to check out our paid social services, and get in touch to find out more.