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Reactions Come to Facebook. What It Means For Brands and You.

Matt DeLuca

Matt DeLuca

The rollout of Facebook’s new reactions is another chapter in the long history of the Facebook ‘Like’ button. With more reactions available than a straight ‘Like’ or ‘Dislike’ (long requested by many users), users can share a variety of reactions on any Facebook post. But for marketers, organizations, and campaigns, this might introduce some wrinkles in the way they currently analyze Facebook engagement and execute their social media strategy.

An important factor to take into consideration is the likelihood of negative responses to Facebook ads, particularly ads that aren’t targeted well or may contain divisive content. Facebook users for the most part accept ads, but a poorly targeted ad is likely to receive more negative commentary than an ad that is aligned to a user’s likes, interests, and behaviors. It is important to note that political or advocacy ads may see increased negative response even with proper targeting because of an individual user’s personal political preference or fatigue from a campaign. This only makes audience identification, research, and message testing more important, particularly for campaigns that need to have a highly nuanced message and sway public opinion. Regardless, expect to see a lot of angry faces at the final days of the Presidential campaign.

Remember that reactions are designed to give more voice to the user and as such, marketers should be prepared for both positive and negative reactions. Brands should analyze the sentiment and be prepared for a rise in expected and unexpected negative reactions. As such, brands should be prepared with a social media crisis response plan and be prepared to engage more with users.

For reporting, Facebook still considers reactions as ‘Likes’ within their Newsfeed algorithm (for now) and Facebook still tends to penalize posts that seek a particular action (Like this post! Share this article!) to ensure that pages don’t try to game the system. Additionally, Facebook’s reporting system does not break out reactions yet but we expect that to roll out down the line to provide better analytics for brands.

It’s important to note that any engagement, negative or positive, is ultimately good in that it can provide feedback that a brand would not have otherwise received. That angry comment in a post might unveil underlying issues that the brand was not aware of and can make changes internally to address it while externally working with the user to come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Likes, comments, shares, and now reactions, aren’t KPIs (key performance indicators) but rather metrics that can inform marketers about how their audience is receiving their message and what they’re feeling. It’s important for a brand on Facebook to continue to drive engagement as Facebook continues to rank highly engaging posts higher in the Newsfeed and engagement impacts future posts by the Page.

So what should brands, marketers, activists, organizations, and candidates take away from this change? The fact is that Facebook continues their drive to give users better content, more ways to communicate, and ultimately, a better experience. As such, brands need to adjust their Facebook strategy to take into account these changes and continue to give users good, high-quality content.