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Facebook’s Emotional Reaction

Josephine Keller, Social Media Manager

The author

Josephine Keller

Social Media Manager

A big and seemingly long-awaited update rolled out across Facebook yesterday with the ‘like’ button having been re-invented allowing users to offer an emotional response on posts.

Facebook has ranked ‘love’, ‘haha’, ‘wow’, ‘sad’ and ‘angry’ as the emotions which users need in order to react to a post, though the humble like button is still there for those who do not wish to acknowledge with an emoticon.

Rumours of when the update will come into play have circulated for several months since Mark Zuckerberg having publically announced plans for expanding the ‘like’ button back in September 2015. Following previous trial, primarily in Spain and Ireland, the update has had a relatively positive reception from users. Though a ‘yay’ emoticon appeared in the pilot launch, it was removed after it was not as well recognised globally for its emotional meaning. The sentiments were chosen for their popularity, by analysing the use of each emotion in comments.

To use the new emotional responses, users must hover over the ‘like’ button and then choose from the emoticons. These are then listed separately underneath a post, showing users how many people have expressed each emotion towards the posts. Likes remain a priority, displaying the number of likes in the same position as before. Whilst the update is automatic on desktops, the mobile app must be updated in order to see the new emotional responses.

The new alternative to simply liking a post is due to the varied nature of content being posted across the platform which may not be something positive but users wish to acknowledge. As a platform which has become a sounding board for individuals to share opinions, articles and personal news, the channel has created the emotions which they feel will best fit the many posts. It has been recognised that having a universal ‘like button’ is less appropriate as the sentiment behind liking a post which, for example, acknowledges a death should not be the same as one used to acknowledge a celebration.

Facebook’s announcement has confirmed that ‘reactions’ will not change the visibility on ads as the interactions will be acknowledged with the same authority as likes previously have, regardless of the sentiment. With regard to organic posting by friends, it has been suggested that Facebook is likely to show users posts with higher levels of positive emotional reactions, as opposed to ‘angry’ or ‘sad’.

The new update is one step further into allowing users to express their emotions on Facebook, and is aimed at ensuring that all content can be acknowledged with an appropriate reaction, which as a result may increase engagement. From a brand perspective, it is a way to gauge the emotions of users, with minimum effort, and to analyse further what users want to see on brand platforms.