Facebook: Reacting to Reactions

We Are Social
“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. That’s why today we are launching Reactions, an extension of the Like button, to give you more ways to share your reaction to a post in a quick and easy way.” – Facebook Press Release Feb 24 2016

Oh hello…. Facebook Reactions have been out for only a little while, and we like them. They’re a great improvement on likes as they allow us to give a more accurate social response to the content we see. No longer do we need to ‘like’ articles about Donald Drumpf, we can give them the correct reaction – anger. Your cat died? I’m rightly sad about that.

While Facebook is facing certain challenges, it holds a lot of appeal as a high-reach platform when looking to communicate with a wider audience. It has the reach of TV, with the targeting capabilities of digital, and the instant feedback of social. Now with Reactions, there’s an even broader spectrum of understanding of how our audiences see campaigns. Initial findings say we’re still focused on ‘Likes’, but while we’re still waiting to see how consumers take to and use Reactions in the long term, it got us thinking, how might they impact the work we do and the way we measure it?

Define how you want people to feel and direct creative work in that direction
Measuring the number of ‘likes’ and engagement alone is dated, if for no other reason than it’s ineffective in measuring larger brand ambitions many marketers have. But they can be useful in assessing the quality of the content’s creative, and helping us optimise future performance.

Having a broad emotive territory to work towards, (happiness, love, shock, sadness, or even just direct positive/negative feedback), can help in directing and optimising the work we do.


Use reactions to help with competitor benchmarking
Going forward, we see Reactions playing a role in helping us understand where brands sit in relation to their competitors, and allowing us to gauge whether they are carving out a unique territory in people’s minds. For instance, consumers could view drinks brand 1’s content as ‘haha’, while viewing drinks brand Y’s with ‘anger’. Insights derived from this will be useful when we’re working on brand positioning, understanding who is doing what, well.


Measure success of content (not campaigns) on % of overall desired reaction
Creating content with a clearly defined reaction in mind means the way we determine if it has been successful should be if we achieve this reaction. We could, and perhaps should, start measuring the impact of creative work based on what % of people have given the reaction expected, or using them to gauge sentiment towards a brand and their content.

Ultimately, reactions allow brands to understand how audiences interpret the content they publish. It’s an instant and more nuanced response from people, making it easier for brands to evaluate how their audience perceives the work they produce. While they won’t irreversibly change the face of social, they will aide the measurement of soft metrics, giving a truer reaction to how people perceive a brand’s presence on Facebook.