If you haven’t been living under a rock, you noticed the rollout of Facebook Reactions to all users earlier this week following a beta testing period. Reactions allow Facebook users to respond to posts with a range of feelings: like, love, haha, wow, sad, and angry (yay and confused were included in original testing, but didn’t make the final cut).
Facebook previously limited post reactions to “likes,” even if that wasn’t the most appropriate reaction. After all, should you “like” a post mourning someone’s passing? Is a “like” exuberant enough to show your joy over a pregnancy announcement? Why were a funny cat meme and a life-changing news update treated with the same level of import?
Adding to the reaction menu
When expanded reactions were originally announced in the fall of 2015, it was speculated that Facebook would complement the “like” button with a “dislike” button. This proposal caused some nerves in the business community – after all, who wants to have their brand publicly “disliked” on social media? Our Director of Web Marketing Brock Murray voiced his concerns about this approach in an interview with Doz.
“It’s hard enough for a small business to get a single “like” on Facebook, especially with the pervasive negative culture f social media. In having the option to “dislike” something, it becomes even easier for the negative voice to drown out the positive (and helpful) comments and viewpoints. I’m sure brands and agencies will come up with creative ways to spin the “dislike” button for their interests, but as proposed I don’t have a good feeling about it.”
Fortunately, Facebook took a different approach and the “dislike” button is off the table – for now. The five new reactions that were added allow more nuanced responses to posts, getting closer to communicating what you really feel with just the touch of a button.
What reactions mean for business
It will be pretty easy for Facebook users to get a hang of reactions on personal posts. But what do the new options mean for business? An interesting approach is to try to create content designed to elicit certain reactions. What can you do to inspire feelings of adoration, awe, or outrage in your readers?
This is the perfect opportunity to step up your content game and create content (social posts, blog posts, images, infographics, videos, podcasts etc.) that will draw a whole range of reactions.
To inspire a “like” reaction, you won’t have to change much. However, I predict that this will become a much more passive reaction – like, scroll, like, scroll, like, scroll – without actually reading/watching or engaging with the material. This is fine if you’re content to rack up likes without it ever leading anywhere, but for small businesses that are using social media as a way to drive conversions and sales, I don’t think a like will cut it anymore. Going forward, a like will be a glowing sign post daring you to do better.
“Love” is an interesting reaction. It shows passion, but it also shows sympathy. Both an announcement of Rihanna’s new album and the death of a friend’s grandparent would receive the same reaction. For business, I think the best course of action is to focus on the passion. Not just “I liked this article” or “I enjoyed reading it,” but “I LOVED this.” Focus on the defining values of your brand. What draws your audience in? What sets you apart? Simply put – why do your customers love your brand/product/service? Keep these values top of mind when creating content, and you’ll be more likely to elicit a reaction of love.
I should note that the love button is the essential expression on Facebook-owned Instagram, and supplanted the “favorite star” on Twitter last fall. It is entirely feasible that, were it not for Facebook’s prioritization of “like” as the default reaction, “love” would conquer all.
This is pretty straightforward – create content that amuses and delights your audience. Laughter is a uniting force, and it can be a pretty inspiring feeling to elicit laughter in another person. This may be as simple as sharing a silly meme, or you can create light, funny material to charm your audience.
This is a hard one to use for business. Sadness is not an emotion that sells much but ice cream and Adele albums. Even sharing posts/news about sad topics is a bit too much of a downer. If you have any creative ideas about how/why businesses should elicit the “sad” reaction, I’d love to hear it!
Personally, I think wow is the most versatile reaction yet. Think of all the different meanings “wow” has in this context: “wow, this is impressive!” “Wow, this is surprising!” “Wow, this is shocking (in an offensive way)!” Try to create content that elicits all of these variations of the feeling (maybe not the last one).
As a general rule, you do not want people to be angry with your business! Still, eliciting anger is a great way to spark conversation. Try diving into a controversial subject, or playing devil’s advocate. If you prefer a less bold approach, use your Facebook page to bring light to an outrageous issue. People will express their anger at the issue but won’t shoot the messenger.
Facebook reactions won’t change much for businesses using social media, but the five new reactions present an interesting opportunity for brands to test out different styles/tones of content to see what drives engagement. With everyone having fun and testing out the new features, now is the best time to be bold, daring, and step outside of your content marketing comfort zone. Who knows, you might just strike social media gold – what’s not to LIKE?
BONUS: reaction targeting
Note: in terms of targeting, Facebook reactions are not yet differentiated in any way. You could go around posting “angry” reactions to pictures of Justin Bieber, and Facebook will interpret this the exact same as saying you “love” Justin Bieber and send you targeted ads as if this was your interest. This issue becomes more concerning when you consider the 2016 election cycle – like/anger for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton are certainly not the same thing, but for now Facebook will treat them alike.