Dubbed ‘reactions’, the feature works much like the ‘like’ button, allowing users to give feedback on a post. It will allow users to express emotions labelled ‘love’, ‘haha’, ‘yay’, ‘wow’, ‘sad’ and ‘angry’ via emojis that appear when people hold the like button.
There will be counts for each emoji at the bottom of a post.
Facebook is also planning to use the reactions to influence what appears in people’s News Feed, according to product manager Chris Tosswill.
Much as with the like button, Facebook will assume users want to see more posts that they ‘react’ to.
“Our goal is to show stories that matter the most in news feed. Initially, just as we do when someone likes a post, if someone uses a reaction, we will infer they want to see more of that type of post.” Tosswill explained in a blog post.
For marketers, reactions has the potential to offer more feedback on what consumers think of an ad and adapt it accordingly. For example if most people click on the ‘angry’ emoji, brands might want to rethink their communication.
Tosswill hopes brands, and anyone else that runs a business page on the site, will see reactions as a means of better understanding what is working on the social network and what might not be resonating. Facebook will provide brands with data on who is reacting to posts and how.
Richard Jones, CEO at EngageSciences, believes the move will also lead to increased engagement, with people more inspired by emojis than the older like button.
“[Marketers] will be able to connect with consumers in more meaningful ways. Facebook’s shift shows how different and demanding it can be to reach millennials, who never switch off from social media and expect a fully personalised service. With emojis consumers will be able to put a face to the brand,” he explained.
Reactions will also impact ad delivery in the same way that likes do, although Facebook has been quick to warn brands against trying to write posts or ads that elicit a particular response, instead focusing on achieving business objectives.
“We see this as an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are responding to their content on Facebook,” said Tosswill.
“Overall Pages should continue to post things that their audience finds meaningful and continue to use best practice.”