Our Reaction to Facebook Reactions

In case you're living under a rock or haven't logged onto Twitter yet today, you might not know that Facebook just unveiled their new "Reactions" feature allowing users to choose from a variety of emotions for content. While these Reactions don't replace the iconic "Like" button (which has been around since most Facebook users can remember), they allow people to more accurately display how they feel about what they're reading and seeing on their feeds. 

I'm sure that everyone at some point has felt a bit awkward about "Liking" a status or article about negative content (a family member or friend passing away, someone asking for thoughts and prayers during a difficult situation, a news article about a drug overdose sweeping the area, etc.). On a personal level, Reactions  will make it much easier to communicate sympathy or support without the need for actual words. 

How will Facebook's reactions impact social media marketing for professionals?

Any good social media marketer knows that emotions can run high on Facebook brand pages. Your content needs to appeal to the masses, being careful to convey your message without "ruffling any feathers." Up until now, marketers were mainly concerned with gaining "likes" and "shares" to generate a larger audience and ultimately get more people connecting with and talking about your brand. 

While still in its infancy, Facebook's Reactions will instantly have two major impacts on social media marketing...

Reactions will make it easier for social media managers to clearly see what people "like," "love," and want more of. This will make it easier for content developers to create editorial schedules that better appeal to brands' specific audiences, which will likely result in more likes, more loves, and more shares. For content developers, Reactions seem like a major "thumbs up."

On the other hand, Reactions may make it difficult to respond effectively to negative emotions and naysayers. Think of it this way: before Reactions were unveiled, anyone with something negative to say about your brand would clearly let you know through a post to your page, a comment on your post or photo, or in a private message. These all have one thing in common. They used their words to clearly explain what they felt, why they felt that way, and usually, what they wanted you to do about it. Now, simply clicking a "sad" or "angry" face through Reactions will allow users to convey negative feelings towards you and your brand without needing to explain why - leaving you without the clear ability to remedy the situation. From a public relations and brand reputation standpoint, this is a big "thumbs down."

For better or worse, Reactions will definitely be keeping social media managers on their toes tracking emotions and analyzing new insights. Overall, I'm excited to see what happens with the feature. Do you think these emotions will stick, or are you planning on sticking with the original "Like" button?