News just broke yesterday which sent waves around the Internet – Facebook is no longer content to have users just ‘like’ stuff, but they now want everyone to react to it. The social network has rolled out six brand new emojis that replace the like button, thus allowing users to better express themselves. After lots of asking from their fanbase everywhere, Facebook has finally gotten around to it.
I love analysing why companies do what they do, and this actually makes perfect sense for Facebook in terms to better getting into the minds their user base. Think about it: with six ways of reacting, Facebook’s data analysts can better understand how their users are reacting to content.
The former version of ‘likes’ on Facebook wasn’t able to give as much context as these six new emojis will, and I’m speculating that this additional context means Facebook is better able to tweak their algorithm to serve up content more specifically to individuals (if it isn’t already doing so). Reason being that content which makes one reader go ‘wow’ might make another person go ‘grr’, so the emojis give Facebook a much more powerful tool that the ‘like’ into being able to deepen understanding across cultural, social, religious and many other differences. Which always allows their sales reps to better consult with clients and thus increase advertising revenue.
On a more practical note, there are also some considerations for brands on Facebook to think about. Here are a few:
• For brand pages: This could mean more insights for posts and potentially also better engagement as people are given the opportunity to better express themselves. The caveat here is that let’s hope that Facebook analytics will be recalibrated to take into account this development. However, at the same time, I believe that brands may need to keep a lookout for how their users are reacting to content, as it could potentially impact organic reach if there are too many negative reactions to a post.
• For data analysts: Sentiment analysis on Facebook just got a little better as reactions get more descriptive. No need to think so hard about what a “like” actually means.
• For community managers: Instead of asking people “what do you think” when pushing out a Facebook post, you can now ask them “how do you feel?” Chances are you’ll get a better response rate as it’s easier to just react with an emoji instead of typing out a full blown response
The most interesting development over the next few days and weeks will be how Facebook’s algorithm reacts to this pretty big change in the way people engage with their newsfeeds. I’m definitely keeping a close watch on this space.