After giving a Like to like everything, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has now given us variations to express ourselves beyond a ‘like’. Now if you don’t want to like a status or video or image, you can show some love, smile, sadness or even an angry face. Facebook calls them Reactions and includes “love,” “haha,” “yay,” “wow,” “sad” and “angry” along with the old “like”.
The work that started a year ago to make the News Feed more expressive, got a global roll out recently. “We’ve been listening to people and know that there should be more ways to easily and quickly express how something you see in News Feed makes you feel. That’s why today we are launching Reactions, an extension of the Like button, to give you more ways to share your reaction to a post in a quick and easy way,” shared Sammi Krug, Product Manager on the Facebook blog.
The move isn’t surprising when we have already seen users as well as brands trying to create conversations with just emojis. From McDonald’s to Ikea to BuzzFeed conducting UK’s first political interview entirely in emoji with Kezia Dugdale everyone prefers emojis. In fact a recent report from Emotional marketing platform Emogi stated that emoji are used by 92 percent of the online population, with gender being a larger factor in emoji use than age.
According to social media analytics firm SocialBakers, brands are using emojis in tweets and Facebook posts more than ever. Six in 10 of the 500 most followed brands online used emojis in its tweets in the fourth quarter of 2015,. That’s up from the same period in 2014, when four in 10 brands used emoji.
Twitter has already made a business model out of its branded emoji model. AdWeek reports Twitter’s hefty $1 million price tag on newly branded emoji for top brands, such as Coke, Starbucks, Spotify and Dove. These brands are partnering with Twitter to receive a customized emoji that is normally built upon other Twitter advertising foundations, such as Promoted Trends, Promoted Moments and Promoted Tweets.
Facebook, a slow starter in the emoji game had an interesting challenge to decide which emoji to use. Too many choices would make the Reactions feature unwieldy. “It was really important that we made the thing people do billions of times a day [i.e. like a post], not any harder,” Julie Zhuo, a product design director at Facebook who worked on the reactions product shared with Wired.
Facebook decided to focus on the sentiments its users expressed most often. They looked at the most frequently used stickers, emoji, and one-word comments and found a few common emotional threads amidst an ocean of diverse sentiments. The team took a subset of reactions that cut across the emotional spectrum and finally arrived at the present six reactions. (Read the Wired article to understand in depth what thought process went in creating the present set of Reactions.)
However, Anadi Sah, Creative Director at Isobar thinks that it was his 4-year-old poster campaign along with his friend that has brought alive an action from Facebook in the form of emotion button. In reaction to the 2012 political unrest and violence in Assam, both the creative souls launched Facebook-focused public service ads, which aimed to caution people on how they use Facebook. The ad copy read, “Your Like can hurt someone’s feeling,” “Your Like can ignite a riot” and “Your Like can lead you into danger.” Each of the three ads carries the tagline, “Use your Like wisely.”
Surely the initiative still holds true but calling it to be the genesis of the Reaction feature is too far fetched! In fact users have been demanding a dislike button since its inception. Meanwhile they had their humorous take on the new reacting emojis.
Brands didn’t want to miss out the party, so here are some of the interesting real time visuals shared on social media:
Center Fresh India
The Honest Page
Definitely the News Feed is more colorful but will it impact the News Feed algorithm which keeps changing. Facebook has said that it will wait a while before deciding how to incorporate the new Reactions into its news feeds:
“In the beginning, it won’t matter if someone likes, “wows” or “sads” a post — we will initially use any Reaction similar to a Like to infer that you want to see more of that type of content.”
However, over time this is going to change: “Over time we hope to learn how the different Reactions should be weighted differently by News Feed to do a better job of showing everyone the stories they most want to see.”
Is this a problem? Max Stossel from Quartz thinks so. In a recent article he expressed his concern that when Facebook simply relied on “Likes,” comments and shares, there was some level of transparency as to why a given post might appear in my feed. “But unless Facebook opens up the conversation about how they’ll weight different Reactions, we have no way to know how the new options will be used to filter information–including news stories.”
Till Facebook comes clear on how Reactions will affect News Feed, brands and publishers will have to observe how people are reacting to the content being shared on the network.
This is a bold step from Facebook; even though there isn’t a dislike button but emojis like sad, angry, yay are enough to gauge the user reaction. With more and more brands investing on content marketing this is a positive step for marketers as well as users.