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Reacting to Facebook Reactions

By Jennifer Esty  |  February 26, 2016

By now everyone has seen, and maybe even ‘Liked’ the new Facebook Reactions, giving us five new ways to respond to newsfeed content.

Although users have clamoured for a ‘Dislike’ button since the beginning of Facebook, and many of them still are, Facebook Reactions have a richer and arguably more positive range of emotions: Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry.

So richer than just a ‘Like’ and a more positive selection than the widely accepted six basic human emotions, as Fear and Disgust make way for Love and Haha.

But enough about the Facebook Reactions themselves, what do they mean for marketers?

First, all Reactions are created equal.

At least until Facebook can create an algorithm that accurately gives weightings to different emotions.

Which means if a user expresses Anger at a post, Facebook will consider that engagement equal to a Like or a Love.

Second, we won’t just know if someone Likes something, we’ll know if they Love it, or if it makes them laugh, or cry.

There will be more opportunity to gain deeper and more meaningful insight from customers, resulting (hopefully) in more sophisticated audience targeting and content development—and therefore more cost effective engagement.

But more choice for users also means that marketers have to be more sophisticated in, and take more time with, their content development.

After all, what does sad or angry actually mean for a piece of content and for the brand that publishes it?

In addition to demographic targeting, brands now need to consider what kind of Reaction they are looking for, cultivating, monitoring and adapting at a pace fast enough to keep up with their audience.

Brands will not only need to ensure engagement, but the right sort of engagement by the right sort of people.

Facebook Reactions will probably make us all better marketers in the long term, delivering better content to people who are genuinely interested in engaging with our brands.

But it’s not enough to count Likes and shares, Facebook marketing will now require even more analysis and monitoring—and a more sophisticated understanding of the desired audience and their engagement with a brand.

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