Here’s How Reactions Will Be Crucial for Advertisers

Nick D'Ascenzo
February 24, 2016

The wait is finally over.

As of today, a new feature called Facebook Reactions has officially rolled out to users in the United States. This tool, which is essentially an extension of the likebutton, allows you to respond with emojis in order to express how you feel about a post or advertisement more accurately. Holding down the likebutton on your phone (or hovering over it with your mouse on a desktop browser) will open up a dashboard of five brand new emotional reactions you can add to a post: love, laughter, shock, sadness and anger.

Here they are! Wow! 

Let’s run down two central reasons why Facebook Reactions has so much potential for advertisers.

Understand Your Audience (Way More)

A liketells you almost nothing about how your audience feels – if anything, it’s a passé nod of acknowledgment that leaves advertisers with their hands up, wanting to know more.

It virtually ends the conversation just as it begins.

With Facebook Reactions, if a user lovesa post, advertisers will know how strongly they feel about whatever is being promoted. This would open the door for more communication.

For example, if you’re selling a board game, users who lovethe ad could be sent a 10% off coupon to purchase the game. Or, the game’s promoters could express a simple thank you for showing such interest in the product. These type of engagements simply aren’t practical in the like”-centric Facebook world to which weve grown accustomed.

An appropriate use of the Angry Reaction. 

Also, keying in on emotions has long been a vehicle for driving brand loyalty.

In a piece from AdAge, Forrester Research said that emotional experience accounts for almost half of customer loyalty to a brand, while cognitive loyalty accounts for only about a third. “Emotion was the No. 1 factor in customer loyalty across 17 of the 18 industries that we studied,” said Forrester analyst Megan Burns.

Enhanced Targeting, Baby

The way users utilize these Reactions will also give Facebook more data on what kind of people we all are. (Sorry, privacy activists.)

Our goal is to show you the stories that matter most to you in News Feed, Facebook product manager Chris Tosswill wrote in a News Feed FYI post. Initially, just as we do when someone likes a post, if someone uses a Reaction, we will infer they want to see more of that type of post.

For example, if you reply with angerto a lot of posts, Facebook will learn to serve you more posts that are likely to rile you up. So, if an article that discusses the upcoming election is being promoted, Facebook can serve that article to people who will likely react strongly to that issue.

Okay, Okay. What’s The Catch?

As with many things in this world, the pros come with some cons.

The biggest probable hurdle of Facebook Reactions will be combating sarcasm. Mashable provided an example from Facebooks initial testing during the fall.

Right off the bat, it’s clear that sarcastic Reactions are going to be a thing. A post highlighting a recent John Oliver segment about pumpkin spice lattes garnered at least one Angry reaction, which is either from a really passionate latte drinker or someone who just thinks he’s funny (I suspect the latter).

Another pitfall of this feature may be a decrease in comments. Although there is no data to support this notion thus far, we’d like to think Reactions will complement comments instead of replacing them.

Either way, Facebook Reactions will provide digital agencies with a better idea of how audiences really feel about their posts and ads, and the feature will certainly guide digital strategies going forward.  

Facebook has long needed a fresh way to express emotions, and for now, this seems to be their answer. We think these reactions are far better than a plain dislikebutton, and as advertisers, we’re excited to observe audiences as they shift from the generic liketo more meaningful reactions.