By Jeff Malmad, Mindshare
We’ve all been there: you see a sad social post from your friend and want to show support, but you don’t want to “like” it. Your friend posts an article that talks about something you disagree with, and you wish Facebook had a “dislike” button. Your best friend just had a baby, but you don’t just want to like it - you want to “LOVE” it! Of course you can simply comment, but we live in a visual world and with a tap of a screen or a mouse click, you can easily bond with your friend or family.
Now, after years of talk regarding a Facebook dislike button, the platform is testing “Facebook Reactions.” Facebook Reactions will help personalize self-expression through emoji-like reactions. The “like” button is not going away, but it will be joined by six other self-expressions: Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad, and Angry. Angry is probably the closest way Facebook will come to a dislike button.
Details and Implications
Facebook Reactions are currently being tested in Ireland and Spain. After that, they may soon make it to your news feed.
In our visual storytelling world, emojis have taken a prominent role in sharing self-expressions and reactions. In a recent Digiday article, Swyft Media reported that over six billion emojis are sent over messaging services on any given day - and that number is rising. Additionally, a recent Instagram study suggests that internet slang such as “lol” or “lmao” is being replaced with smiley face emojis based on posts by users. This is also evident with “good job” where people share the thumbs-up emoji. So it only makes sense that Facebook would want to leverage this growing form of self-expression for consumers.
Everybody wants more emojis. Currently, there are 722 emoji characters available in the standard Unicode 6.0 character set (this is the standardized list of text code that translates into emojis and the basic emoji keyboard that many people have).
It’s not just Facebook who is looking to leverage emojis to connect more with consumers. Twitter has also begun to roll out emoji-based marketing. Through the use of certain hashtags, a brand emoji can appear. Consumers first started seeing this during large sporting events like the World Cup, when if you hashtagged your team, you could see their flag. Or during Comic Con - when you used #C3P0, you received the Star Wars character icon in your tweet.
In addition, many brands are incorporating their own sets of emojis within custom keyboards, hoping consumers will download their branded keyboard and use their emojis to become part of the visual conversation. Since Apple now allows for third party keyboards, custom keyboards reach a much wider audience, allowing brands to literally become part of the messaging engine.
If Facebook rolls out Facebook Reactions to all users, brands will be able to look beyond the “Like” metric and begin to understand the true response to that engagement. Emotions will then become a likely way to target outside of just people who ‘like’ your content.
With a choice of reactions, the ability to gauge sentiment will become more powerful in real time; sentiment analysis will become more prominent in social and do more to help shape campaigns and product iterations. Depending on how you look at it, with more choices in reactions, the platform can become simpler for a friend to share empathy but more complex for a brand to understand sentiment – requiring more time and resources, but for the better. In our view, as the consumer always comes first, we “like” Facebook Reactions.