Facebook Reactions – What it Means for Marketers


Facebook likes are so 2015. The recent introduction of Facebook reactions opens up a can of worms for digital marketers worldwide. We find ourselves wondering whether the 6 new reactions will serve as a distraction or a key metric in predicting how users will consume content in the future. It’s a brilliant move for Facebook in tweaking its algorithm for continued engagement with users but what does it mean for businesses? At the centre of all marketing practices is a necessity to evoke an emotional response from audiences. To this end, the reaction buttons will provide more nuanced data than its predecessor (the like button) because they indicate the type of emotional responses users have to particular posts.

Data processing of interactions will no doubt determine an optimal mix of emotive posts to keep users coming back. Data from ‘reactions’ also has the potential to affect Facebook’s advertising algorithms and could prove to be a valuable analytical tool for digital marketers. All reactions will initially have the same impact on ad delivery as likes since Facebook is weighing them evenly in determining the engagement of users.

Brands such as Disney have followed Facebook’s initiatives and are looking to make emotion their next targeting metric. At Loves Data we’re predicting that sentiment analysis tools will soon be on the rise in the race to best analyse data generated by reactions and as a result, astutely match target audiences with relevant ad content.

As real life people with a wide gamut of emotions that reach beyond a thumbs up reaction to any given content, we embrace Facebook’s introduction of new routes of expression and applaud their intent in providing a universal vocabulary that lets people express emotion as they scroll through their feed. However, from a marketing standpoint, it’s not quite as simple. Whilst the diversity of emoji responses may provide richer insight into the way we engage with Facebook content, will the analysis of this data lead to conversions? There is also no way to determine the authenticity of these reactions as yet. How do we account for sarcasm for example?

As text-based comments play a large role in opening up a dialogue between brands and their fans, emoji responses may result in a lower text engagement rate on posts hindering brands in adjusting their content. The measurement of ROI remains one of the main challenges for digital marketers. We hope these reactions will offer more to businesses than just an interesting way for audiences to interact. Reaction measurements will likely be used to decide which ads we see in our feeds. These measurements could even become one of the primary metrics in ad content creation in the not too distant future.

Pokemon Reaction Packs

In the meantime, if you find yourself less than impressed by Facebook’s reaction options, a new Firefox and Google Chrome browser extension called Reaction Packs is offering users the promise of untold riches in the form of custom emoji sets. 

Image source: Reaction Packs Pokemon alternatives.