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How will marketers capitalise on Facebook Reactions?

Social & Digital

How will marketers capitalise on Facebook Reactions?


The introduction of Facebook’s new Reactions feature has meant brands can get much more insight on how consumers are reacting to their social promotions than ‘likes’ alone. Shane Stewart runs through what this could mean for marketers and Facebook users.

A few weeks ago Facebook announced the global role out of its new Reactions feature. This has been years in the making since Zuckerberg acknowledged the like button didn’t adequately reflect the desired emotional response to certain posts, for example the awkward moment when you click ‘like’ to show your support for a natural disaster.

Fast forward to April of 2016 and we’re now growing accustomed to new reactions of like, love, haha, yay, wow, sad and angry. Reactions is an extension of the like button designed to give people a more nuanced way of sharing their reaction to a Facebook post quickly and easily.

“At the end of the day, marketing is about prompting emotion from consumers, and Facebook is giving consumers a way to register a broader range of emotions instantly. At least for now, this takes out some of the guesswork.”


What marketers need to know

Facebook noted a few words of advice for advertisers about Facebook Reactions: Metrics that include Likes in ads reports will also include reactions. However, these won’t be broken down into individual reactions. Advertisers who want to see a breakdown of reactions can do so in their page insights only.

Reactions are treated the same as likes for ads delivery e.g. ‘Loves’ carry no extra weight than likes in the auction.

In the same way that you can’t remove a Like, you can’t remove a Reaction.


How can marketers use Reactions to their advantage?

Facebook has yet to determine how individual Reactions will be reported in the future, but community marketers can now get a more accurate feel for how users react to their content. It offers insights into how their audience is reacting and use this information to refine future targeted messages.

1. Better understanding of competitor content – this can be useful for competitor research as you can get a good feel for how people will react to your content, status updates, and announcements by looking at the summary of reactions on competitor posts.

2. New way of running competitions – essentially you can judge a competition based on which emotion is the most popular. Or despite the reactions actual meaning you have six different channels for people to vote.

3. Servicing customer relationships – if individuals use ‘sad,’ for example, a brand could reach out to those people directly, much like airline customer service agents now reach out directly when people complain about their flights on Twitter.

4. Ad targeting through reactions – if a brand creates a post promoting a product and half of them ‘love’ the post, putting up the ‘wow’ emoji, and half put an ‘angry’ or ‘sad’ emoji, the brand could then alter their Facebook advertising to exclude people who responded with ‘angry’ or ‘sad’ reactions and only include those who used ‘love’ in your next ad. If Facebook allows advertisers to break out the ‘sad,’ ‘wow,’ and ‘like’ on their campaigns, brands may be able to direct targeting in the future.

5. Enhancing products – marketers could test new products by soft-launching to certain markets and analyse the reactions to see whether they can make it better or how it is perceived by the market. Post a new flavour concept of ice cream, for example.

We’ve already begun seeing some marketers capitalise on the reactions. For example, in the US, Chevrolet launched its new ad a few week ago for the 2016 Malibu car including a call to the viewer to show your ‘love’.


“Only the new Malibu inspires the emotion to ‘love,’” Paul Edwards, the vice president of marketing for Chevrolet, told Creativity about the spot. “Creative directors and art directors are going to have to think, even more now, about the type of reactions they want.”


The consequences for marketers

Despite negative connotations, a ‘sad’ response may not be bad for brand image. Consumers may choose ‘sad’ if your business is closed on a particular day or if they find out you’ve run out of their favourite paleo bars. However, if ‘sad or ‘angry’ is chosen in regards to Facebook promoted posts and advertisements, it’s a different story.

So, be sure to take that into account the next time you receive ‘sad.’ Context and content will be key to evaluating the data of Facebook reactions.


The News Feed algorithm of the future

At the moment Facebook has said it treats all Reactions as equal for showing content in your News Feed. But think about it, it’s perfect for how Facebook can analyse your emotional data and it provides them with a tool to enhance your experience by:

  1. Showing you more ‘shocking’ content (content with high ‘wow’ and ‘angry’ reactions),
  2. Showing you more ‘happy’ content. Have you been ‘sad’ at a lot of content recently? Facebook could even detect if you are depressed.
  3. The advertising you are exposed to will be even more targeted according to the content you react to.


I’m excited to see how the next generation of savvy marketers will use Facebook reactions to their brands’ advantages.

Have you used them yet? What are your thoughts?



Shane Stewart is a marketing professional with over six years’ experience across the not-for- profit, financial services and commercial real estate sectors. Currently working with Colliers International as the national marketing manager for retail properties, Shane empowers a network of over 65 agents and support staff with direction on marketing strategies, initiatives and developing market leading commercial real estate campaigns.


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