Date Published: 23rd March 2016

After months of talks about including a Facebook ‘dislike’ button, the social media company has finally made a move. Expanding the palette of expression beyond the ‘like’ button, Facebook added the opportunity for any user to more clearly express their opinion through Reactions. The Facebook community has longed for a dislike button not because they wanted the ability to express disapproval, but because they wanted the opportunity to express a range of emotions. Zuckerberg acknowledges the limits of the like button saying, “Not every moment you want to share is happy. Sometimes you want to share something sad or frustrating.”

User-to-Content Relationship

Not only has this move benefitted the users, however, there is great power in the Reactions data that the social media company is now aggregating. Through Facebook Reactions, Facebook is able to quantify more accurately the relationship between a user and the content he/she is interacting with. In the past it was unclear whether a like on a post represented ‘I approve,’ ‘this is funny’, or even ‘sorry to hear that.’ The increased spectrum of expression elucidates these previously ambiguous user-to-content relationships.

The Power of Emotion Data

In addition, emotional data has been extremely difficult to capture in the past and Facebook’s release of Reactions provides valuable insight that will greatly benefit its marketing and advertising platform. For example, being able to decide whether a user ‘loves’ a post about a political candidate or is ‘angry’ about it would provide some insight on their political standing. For a marketer, knowing what makes your audience ‘haha’ or ‘wow’ is the perfect way to improve on the next campaign. Riding on the trend of big data, this data will be able to provide key associations between people and preferences to make more accurate predictions.

Levels of User Engagement

Apart from emotional data, Facebook benefits from the increasing types of user-to-content interaction. The like button worked perfectly as a way to quickly interact and acknowledge content without taking the time to comment. Another common user behavior introduced by Facebook is to comment with stickers. With the introduction of Facebook Reactions, it seems that there is yet another way to interact with content. Each of these reactions have a different level of engagement required from the user which is a metric that companies can utilize to determine the success of a marketing campaign. To me, it seems that Facebook Reactions will fit as a medium of interaction in between liking and comment a sticker.

A Win Win

It is difficult to argue that Facebook Reactions wasn’t a good move for Facebook. Certainly benefitting Facebook with the rich data they collect, users also get to see a more nuanced way of expressing themselves. As long as increasing the number of ways to interact with content doesn’t overwhelm users or interfere with the user experience, everyone benefits from the new feature.

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