Late last month Facebook added five more ways for people to react to posts from their friends. In addition to the ubiquitous “like” button, FB users can now express the animated emotions of “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad,” and “angry.” And, in the process there is a powerful new tool – as well as potentially a lot more work — for Content Managers (CM) and Social Media Managers (SMM). Here’s why.
First let’s think what those Reactions can do to our posts. In terms of the Facebook algorithm everything remains the same: more interaction with a post translates directly to increased audience reach. However, the more important question is how Reactions will change the perception of a message and, in the end, affect the Engagement Rate of a page.
When the audience could just “like” a post it affected only the Post Reach. Now the audience has a power to literally add some mood to our messages – and substantially alter the original intent of the message in addition to creating a shift in the audience’s perceptions. They could achieve this before Reactions, but that required an extra effort – write a comment or share a post. Reactions have removed this barrier and now the audience can affect the message in just one click. This is especially important in the light of the fact that, according to wired.com, 90 percent of frequent FB users do so in the constricted confines of a mobile environment. Clicking on these animated gifs makes self-expression easier than ever. That’s the good – and bad – news.
Here’s an example.
The video network Tastemade has recently published an informative post about the “10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Pistachios.”
It collected more than 6,000 reactions among which we can see the WOW-reaction. That exuberant reaction made this post look more interesting, triggering more curiosity and, thus, provoking the audience attention to the message. It helped sell a lot more pistachios!!
However, WOW has not just increased the number of interactions with the post (Engagement Rate), but it has also increased the level of expectation. This is where WOW becomes a double-edged sword: should the pistachios video fall short for even a small portion of viewers, the post may start getting SAD or ANGRY faces, completely changing the tenor of the post and adversely affecting the end results.
To sum up, the launch of Facebook Reactions has the potential to make a tremendous shift toward online content quality. From now on, whatever messages go on Facebook will meet quick and possibly harsh judgment.
Another key consideration is which of the six Reactions will drive involvement into the post and result in a higher Engagement Rate. Again, when we think about the technical side of the question, obviously Reactions will increase the Reach of the post just because they provide users with more options to express themselves. However, the vital question is if the audience will stop scrolling the Feed because of Haha or Love and actually engage post. Will people be turned off by too much love!? Or actually attracted to a high level of anger?
Moira Burke and Mike Develin’s research proves that statuses that include emotions (feeling excited, feeling blessed, feeling discouraged, feeling worried, etc.) gets more responses in the form of likes or comments depending on the type of emotion vs. “unemotional statuses.” I argue that posts that get Reactions beyond just Likes will actually increase the level of interaction. Time will tell, but if history is any indicator, passion will trump.
Now let’s go through each Reaction and think if it will trigger extra content consumption or not.
Haha & Wow
It’s common sense that funny and interesting posts will consistently generate reader attention. So it just follows that Haha and Wow reactions will increase potential consumption of Facebook page content. These two powerful Reactions will be a goal for many SMMs.
Why would people be sad after reading a Facebook post? Well, either they are sympathetic to someone’s situation or they are disappointed because the post has not met their expectations. Will the sad reaction trigger more involvement with the post? My answer is yes. According to the research mentioned above, blue posts provoke higher level of attention vs. happy posts. So, if you want provoke Sad reaction to increase potential Engagement, post touching and sentimental content (when appropriate) that will make your followers be empathetic with it without being disappointed by it.
The jury is out with this one. Angry face can mean two things:
- the audience is angry at YOU because you posted a poor message or (even worse!) your product has failed to deliver as promised.
- the audience is angry not at you but at something in the conversation.
Here is an example:
In the first case the audience most likely is angry at the author. In fact, there is nothing wrong with cartoons, they are actually fun! But pay attention to the cartoon and the real picture. There is a huge perception gap between real people and the parody cartoon. Apparently the young couple and their friends have a difference of opinion on their appearances!
In the second case, those upset people are most likely Miami Heat fans, the team that lost the game. So the reader animosity is directed at the team’s performance and not the author.
Will Angry face inflame more involvement into the content? I bet yes! And it is going to be even stronger than with previous emotions – Haha, WOW and Sad. So, you really don’t want to make any follower angry (unless you are in the media or policy business and your goal is to kindle a discussion).
Love and Like
I don’t think that Like or Love will significantly increase involvement with posts. However, it is worth a mention that Love will mean affection and, ultimately, increase ER which, in turn, will hopefully result in higher brand loyalty. And the Like will equal to “just Ok”. If followers pick Like, when other 5 emotions are available for them, it will mean “well, thank you for sharing.”
To sum up, Facebook Reactions will increase Reach and Engagement Rates of posts. And some of them will have a stronger capability to do it. To list them in a descending order, Angry, Sad, Wow & Haha, Love, Like. How does it influence SMM or CM work? Well, first, now we need to dig even deeper to analyze customers’ behavior and competitors’ activity on Facebook. Secondly, when creating content, we need to understand which reaction(s) will help us to meet a marketing goal and create appropriate content. And last, but certainly not least, it is vital to provide FB friends and followers with high-quality content that will ideally deliver an extra value for them.