How will Reactions change the Facebook experience?

11 March 2016

facebook-reactions1

Facebook launched Reactions last month – an evolution of their classic “Like” button. Last year Mark Zuckerberg was hinting at adding a “Dislike” button last year, but instead this new range of emojis was announced in October 2015, and that they were deep into the testing phase.

With Reactions, users now have the ability to further define their feelings towards any piece of content shared on Facebook – be it an article, a photo or video. Together with the classic Like, users can now select icons that represent Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry.

facebook-reactions2

What does this mean for you?

It clarifies our thoughts on a post, and looking back, you realise the limitations of FB’s Like-only system, as just “Liking” isn’t always appropriate.

For emotional moments in life, such as the death of a friend or family member, a “Like” always felt like an awkward option. You wanted to show that you were thinking of the people involved, supporting them. Now the simple use of the “Sad” reaction is a great option to use to show they are in your thoughts.

All good, but that isn’t the only way Reactions are used. Depending on your view, Reactions could have an unwanted effect on your personal timeline content as well.

Max Stossel shared his concerns over the possible effects of Reactions on your timeline, and wants Facebook to clarify how our timeline content will be shaped by their use.

At the moment, any use of a Reaction is counted as a regular “Like”, but that will surely change in the future. So what kind of content will be served to your timeline? Will they favour “Angry” or “Sad” content for emotional reactions? Or will that type of content not be shown to you anymore?

Or will you have the option of setting preferences of what kind of content the news feed algorithm will present to you?

How is this helping Facebook?

Facebook has over 1.5 billion monthly active users. So any changes made to the platform impacts a large amount of people. This could be the reason why Reactions took over a year to create and implement.

A year of research. surveys, and testing in various markets to improve their platform and our user experience. But why?

Every piece of information you supply on your profile, is used by advertisers to deliver adverts designed for you. Every interaction you have on Facebook is used by their news feed algorithm to determine which posts will be shown on your timeline – to maximize your experience and keep you on the network for longer.

Reactions gives advertisers another measurable metric to help with their campaigns.

Advertising Benefits

As I mentioned above, every scrap of information you supply for your personal profile is used for displaying the right kind of adverts for you. Yes that’s right, the fact that you like fishing and Nickelback can be of value for advertisers.

Businesses want to know what you’re interested in so their advertising can be more targeted and perform better. And Facebook is eager to share that information to get more marketing revenue.

Let’s look at how basic targeting options work when setting up a Facebook advert. Say that I’m launching a Lilo coffee shop in London. I want to start a Facebook advertising campaign to direct users to our new business page.

I find that on Facebook there are 37 million people in the 18-65+ age group in the United Kingdom. That is too many people to consider with my modest marketing budget so I want to create a more targeted audience that is more likely to come to the coffee shop.

This way I’m sure my advertising money is being spent on the right people.

So let’s start creating a more targeted group:

  • Set location just to London, England, within a 30km radius -> drops to 7.3 million
  • We think it’s a brand that will do well with a younger crowd, adjust the ages to 18-35 -> drops to 4.1 million
  • We want to target people who like Starbucks, add that as a connection -> drops to 290,000.
target-audience

We’ve narrowed down a group of 37 million down to just 290,000 – that’s the power of Facebook advert targeting – easily defining your target market.

The Future of Reactions

The benefit of Reactions right now, is that advertisers will be able to tell how users react to their campaigns. Do they find your latest advert funny, or does it upset them? Brands always want to present a consistent voice and tone to their audience - and Reactions can help show you how people perceive your content. Or you can see how people react to content that your competitors publish on Facebook.

With potentially even more metrics known to advertisers, or more targeting options added, you can see how they will be flocking to use Facebook advertising. The more you know, the better you can sell.

We’ll see how Reactions ultimately influences your personal Facebook experience, so I’m undecided on whether they will ultimately only be of use to advertisers. So for now I’m giving their latest feature a plain old “Like”.

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