Facebook has expanded the ways in which brands can interact with, and get feedback from, customers.
After a year of testing in Ireland and Spain, Facebook today expanded its suite of “Reactions” across its mobile and desktop platforms and across Android and iOS. Users can now respond to any post in their News Feed with Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry. To add a reaction, users hold down the Like button on a mobile device or hover over the Like button on desktop.
In the past, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said this update was inspired by a desire for users to share more empathetic and diverse reactions to posts that might not be all positive. This is also a way to better serve the brands that advertise on Facebook, as businesses can learn more about how people feel about posts.
“We’ve been listening to people and know that there should be more ways to easily and quickly express how something you see in News Feed makes you feel,” said Facebook product manager Sammi Krug in a post sharing the news. To determine the expanded options, Facebook conducted focus groups and surveys and looked at how people were already commenting. (Brands might be relieved — or not — that there is no “Dislike” option.)
Forrester analyst Erna Alfred Liousas said this option simply means more data for Facebook, which can help it better target its ads. Indeed, during Facebook’s recent quarterly earnings call, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said a key priority was to make its ads more relevant and effective. There are 50 million small businesses using Pages, and 2.5 million active advertisers, so there is a chance that Facebook could use the insights gleaned from Reactions to increase that number.
It also means that brands can have more in-depth sentiment from followers; for example, a brand could target customers who react with a “wow” to a clothing item. Reactions will be counted as Likes, and will show up in page insights separated out into Reactions.
One potential concern Forrester analysts shared was the possible inherent ambiguity of the reactions, like “wow” or “haha.” Neiman Marcus Group chief marketing officer Wanda Gierhart isn’t worried about that. “Facebook Reactions allows for a quick and easy way to gather our customers’ reactions to our posts, adding the visual element is a modern twist to ‘commenting,'” Gierhart said.
But aside from anecdotal feedback, it’s not clear exactly how concrete the effect will be toward making a purchase. “This still doesn’t lead to the biggest need — attribution for social,” said Forrester researcher Samantha Ngo. “Even if someone loved or haha’d something, can you map that to them purchasing a product? What’s the return on investment for the business?” Plus, she added, “Will Facebook be willing to offer up audience segmentation based on these reactions or figure out how to parse out the attributes that led to a specific reaction? We’re not holding our breath on this changing the marketing game just yet.”
For now, brands will just be waiting and watching to see how users adopt and interpret this update.