By Jazz Arts & Communications digital marketing communications consultant Sarah Fenwick
Facebook is testing Reactions in Ireland and Spain, it’s a new range of emoticons intended to add to the existing Like/Thumbs Up button. The innovation comes on the back of less engagement to the constant stream of posts in one’s newsfeed, and is a solution to the problem of more complex and emotional events, such as the announcement of a death, illness or disaster.
The range of Reactions can be seen in the video below, and are Like (thumbs up), Love (heart), Haha (laughing face), Yay (smiling face), Wow (astonished face), Sad (sad face) and Angry (red, frowning face).
The question is: how will this impact marketing messages? I’ve based my analysis on a few different elements:
- People ‘Like’ posts to show support for their friends and brands to which they are attached, and likes are used as a brand impact statistic.
- Likes are an indication of popularity and social acceptance by different networks within Facebook.
- Likes are a positive reaction to a brand and an indication of awareness and interest.
- Likes enhance a brand’s reputation while giving it more exposure to the fan’s friends and groups.
- Likes keep the mood positive but lack other social reactions.
With all this in mind, Reactions will bring new complexity into analysing Facebook engagement for brands. Negative reactions like anger and sadness can impact on a brand’s reputation, and could be used maliciously, so posting is going to become more of a challenge for social media managers, who will have to be even more careful not to give offence to members of their target audience. Negative reactions can also be seen as valuable feedback and a sign that a company needs to do better to please their target audience. Another thing that social media marketers will have to look out for is the spread of negative influencers or trolls, who are paid by competitors to devalue or defame a brand name. It will be much easier for trolls to create angry or sad statistics against a brand’s name.
Copywriters will become even more important than they already are in creating content for Facebook. Will the classic request ‘please like’ now have to become ‘please love’? How awkward will it be to ask ‘please love this?’ Creativity will be needed!
At the same time, you could ask – where is Reactions different from any other sticker or comment? The biggest difference is that each reaction becomes a statistic to be analysed by social media managers. Since Reactions is going to be aggregated similar to ‘Likes’, then Facebook will give a number for each emotion triggered by a given post.
A reaction can range from the obvious – for posts announcing a death in the family (sad) – to complex; for posts announcing a new product (wow, yay, love). A company launching a new type of shampoo, for example, would be looking at metrics for Likes, Loves, Laughs, Smiles, the Wow factor, Sadness and Anger. A comment or sticker is not aggregated into a quantitative Facebook statistic, unless you count the generic ‘engagements’ stat.
Reactions could be gold for companies doing pre-market testing for different products, but at the same time, it could mean a complete distortion of market reality depending on the size of the sample.
How does it translate into return on investment? ROI is very important for some companies who don’t just see Facebook as a source of popularity and awareness. At what stage of the Reaction scale will the buyer be ready to buy? Love? Wow? What does a company have to do to turn an angry reaction into a love reaction so it has more chance of selling goods and services via Facebook?
These are good questions, and Facebook is itself at the stage of testing them out, so watch this space for follow-up articles on the impact of Reactions.
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