For years, Facebook users have been hoping for an alternative to the “like” button which isn’t always fitting for that sad article your friend just posted. Calls for a dislike button went unanswered as Facebook executives feared that it would cast a shadow of negativity over the platform and allow users to easily criticize each other.
Finally, Facebook has come up with a solution: Reactions. The traditional “like” has been joined by “love”, “haha”, “wow”, “sad”, and “angry”. Since rolling out this new feature, “love” has been the most popular Reaction amongst users. The emotions were chosen based on the most popular emoji’s and stickers used in comments and posts. Originally, “yay” was included in beta versions of this extension of the “like” system but it proved to not be as popular as the other Reactions, ultimately not making the cut. In addition, Facebook wanted to make sure that they found the perfect number of choices to cover the key emotions users would want to express without overwhelming them with too many options.
The concise selections also play a key role in the functional use of Reactions as they do track data collection. “Likes” have always helped to shape what ends up on your news feed, but now your responses to posts are more nuanced than ever, allowing Facebook to curate your content more accurately. Previously, “liking” a post simply told Facebook that you wanted to see more of it. Now, they are able to know what makes you happy, sad, angry, or intrigued. This new system will play a vital role in ensuring the perfect mix of content on your Facebook feed, which of course will have implications for Facebook advertisements. It will help brands to never have their ads show up in a spot where users might be in a bad mood, or perhaps the new comedy movie coming out will place their ads after posts that already have you in the mood to laugh.
The analysis of Reaction data is still in the process of developing, but it’s safe to say that it is a glimpse of what’s to come from Facebook in the future. Reactions are a genius way to give Facebook users the expression that they’ve been asking for, while also providing more useful data for determining what you will see when you’re online. Just be sure to keep that in mind while you’re hitting “love” on all of your aunt’s cat photos.