After its long awaited arrival, the new reaction function on Facebook introduced last week was generally met with excitement. Causing quite a buzz, Facebook’s feed is so far seeing a decent improvement of post interaction due these classic like alternatives.
Just about a year ago, Zuckerberg and company told us that it was time to move past a simple like for one important reason:
“Everyone’s had one of these posts in News Feed where they’re like, I want to respond in some way, but ‘like’ doesn’t feel appropriate at all.”
Of course, they also rolled this out due to the infinite requests for a dislike button as well. Facebook’s News Feed team looked at thousands upon thousands of statuses and went through their comments to find the most popular one-word reactions. From there, they thoroughly tested which reactions resonated with sample users to get the best possible initial set of reactions- which is what we see today.
Failing the tests, we were surprised to hear, were the “yay” and “confused” reactions. As explained by director of Facebook’s feed, Tom Alison, the yay reaction was cannibalizing the usage of the “love” reaction so they simply did away with it. Additionally, they also mentioned this about the initial set were seeing:
“It was really important to us that this was something that could be universal”
How this is all turning out
An interesting thing to note, is that only the top three reactions to a post display on that post. So it doesn’t matter if a video makes you sad if you’re not reacting the same way everyone else is. Kind of like this:
Here the most popular are visually displayed as like, love, and angry, as dictated by those rating the post.
Because Facebook users know this happens, we’ll likely see an increase in “reaction bias” on posts in the future that will discourage those using the reaction function from picking anything outside of the three currently most popular reactions.
Although this seems to be of little importance; it plays into a second, very clear trend- people are still using the generic like button way more than any other reaction.
Because of this, it may be possible that the reaction function will see diminished usage in the future as the magic of Facebook’s reactions wear off; such as in this post here:
Even a few days after the reaction function is rolled out, no one decided to use it. Too much trouble, perhaps? And this post isn’t rare, either. Whether or not this new ability will stay highly popular remains to be seen.
Yet, because of the varying range of reactions people have to posts in real life, we find this introduction extremely helpful overall to both publishers and users. Facebook’s reactions have been long awaited, and the slow crawl to finally rolling them out has been well overdue. In fact, the speed at which Facebook has implemented this leads only speaks of the incredible value they place on their news feed. This is both their source of money and relevancy, so they had best take their time making any large moves this late in the game.
Despite the importance of the news feed, we hope this is far from the last of changes Facebook will be making, especially due to the heavy decline in young users they’re seeing.
These kinds of things matter to us, just like they matter to you. Find out more about our ability to harness social media channels like Facebook here.
Impact of new reaction function
After Facebook publicly released a preview of their new “reactions” function there were several different responses.
Of course, Facebook stated that the motivator for this change was the overwhelming demand for a “dislike button”. Which was a strange way to introduce this idea, as the closes thing to a dislike here is probably the “angry” face.
But Facebook stated later that they did this for a reason- to create the most positive experience for as many users as possible.
So of course there has been a slight backlash as people fully realize that they can’t rate something they disagree with by using a “hate”, “meh”, or “disgust” face. Additionally, these faces probably never will be released unless Facebook decides to go a different direction with this initiative entirely.
What will this actually do?
Of course, we can’t really say these reaction emotions will all the sudden give marketers an epiphany in the form of data, but it will reveal a few clues and light a few paths.
The real change we see this having is the influence these visual emotion symbols will have our minds when we go about discovering a new piece of content. When you see a post with over 100 likes, you probably already know it’s going to be good, so it influences both the chances of you clicking it and your expectations for the post to meet.
Now, what if you see the following post with 2,100 likes and a 1,000 laugh votes:
Both your expectations have instantly been raised and you’re already preparing to click knowing that many other people have laughed at this.
Psychologically, this is an interesting effect that leads to the certain kinds of content being virally spread extremely far due to these emotional influencers.
Knowing this, it is quite likely that many companies that find their biggest success on Facebook will spin their content slightly to appear to one of these four new emoticons. Of course, we don’t expect these four emotions to be the only ones around for very long, as only have four is quite restricting.
Speaking of restricting, the emotions we see here cover solely the basics of positive emotions, laughter, love, and happiness. Besides generic sad and surprise, the one that stands out the most is the “angry” emoticon, which is indicative of the fact that Facebook will likely introduce more ways to express emotions that are not either happy or sad.
What’s the real reason we are seeing this introduction?
Zuckerberg and company are expressing this introduction as an alternative to a “like” because liking has historically been the only way for those that don’t want to write a comment to engage with a post. Now, you can say “hey I looked at this and this is how I feel about it” without even writing anything.
This additional way to engage with a post without actually typing anything is generally viewed as a good thing by most. Most engagement is good for online communication in the long run, especially with the things we can do with data now.
Who knows, maybe you’ll leave an angry face on an advertisement for an Android phone and you’ll see an iPhone ad the next day.