Don't fear Facebook Reactions - embrace them

For years Facebook users have asked for the chance to more accurately voice how they feel about specific posts with the simple addition of a dislike button.

Embrace the range of reactions to your brand, writes Rebecca Holmes
Embrace the range of reactions to your brand, writes Rebecca Holmes
While the powers that be at Facebook have rejected this particular idea, the cries for layered responses have not gone unanswered. Recently the platform rolled out Facebook Reactions. 

Hovering over the Like button now gives you the option to respond with: Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry, as well as the traditional Like. 

For PR and digital agencies, the launch of Facebook Reactions poses a bit of a challenge regarding reporting, but it is in no way insoluble. 

As users are able to say more with less, we may see a decrease in the number of short responsive comments as fans experiment more with expressing their sentiment through Facebook Reactions. 

For my part, however, it seems a bit of education will go a long way here; explaining to clients that while engagement may seem more fractured, this data is, in fact, all a part of the larger whole. 

A more colourful big picture, if you will, and who doesn’t love more colourful data? I see infographics in our future.

While the bigger question about how Facebook Reactions will impact brand platforms remains to be seen, I say ‘fear not’. 

While emoticons like ‘Sad’ and ‘Angry’ may seem to carry a different sentiment, all these reactions lead to the same end: measurable and more targeted data about how your fans feel about your content. 

If better data wasn’t enough to make us all jump for joy, committing to a Facebook Reaction reflects deeper levels of interaction with content and asks users to label and identify their responses, which may help consolidate brand relationships and loyalty moving forward. 

It is important to keep in mind that the mechanic to respond in this way is very new and not necessarily intuitive for some users. Will it provide valuable insights into each brand’s community? Of course. 

These insights must, however, be viewed within the framework of audience demographics and awareness of social trends within each particular community. 

Facebook Reactions won’t be definitive at this early stage but as long as clients are educated and aware, there is no reason not to celebrate this function in March’s reports. 

As the weavers of digital stories for our brands, we have a responsibility to educate, not just our clients but their fans as well. 

When functionality on a widely used platform changes in some way, it is our responsibility to ensure our clients receive the best data possible by guaranteeing that their communities are included in the shift. 

Building Facebook Reactions into your content will be an invaluable tool for inviting your communities to use this new system of responding.

The language of ‘Likes’ is pervasive across content and we are going to need to see this change to accommodate and encourage the use of more targeted reactions, if we want to benefit from this data. 

Asking fans to react and share, for example, may not roll off the fingertips but it is an adjustment we are all going to need to make. 

I, for one, look forward to the stories that we will be able to tell based on Facebook Reactions and the excitement among PR and digital agencies seems palpable. 

Keep an eye out for integrated campaigns that will make swift use of Facebook Reactions in a strategic way. 

I expect we’ll be seeing these any day now. 

Rebecca Holmes is an account director in the social media team at Spider PR

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