Reacting to Facebook

February 26, 2016

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the launch, seen the changes, or have used the new Facebook Reactions that went live this week. In the event you’re not an active Facebook user, or have been living under a rock without Internet access, 

essentially the developers at Facebook expanded the one and only option of, “like,” to include five additional options; “haha,” “love,” “sad,” “wow,” and “angry,” each with their own corresponding icons.

A project under works for several years, the shift to Reactions was out of the desire and requests of users to have options other than “like,” most specifically “dislike,” as an option for bad, fun or unpleasant posts.

To Facebook’s credit, they did conduct research on how users would want to interact with a status, bringing in psychology, user social media behavior, surveys and focus groups. This is likely why an actual “dislike,” button wasn’t introduced this week.

While I’d read about its pending release and some of the initial testing in Europe, it was a bit of an adjustment to get used to having SIX options from which to choose. Throughout the day, I saw more posts with more than “like” as a count or interaction. Posts with more than one type of reaction show the top three reactions with a total count of all the post’s reactions, much like the previous “like”-only feature.

What eventually caught my eye, was when I received a sponsored post in my feed for “Bosley Medical” which is for hair restoration. I have no idea why I was served up this advertisement. I’d like to assume it was just because I’m a guy in his 30s, as I know I hadn’t browsed the site or any competitors (no retargeting here). Does Facebook know I have thinning hair? When would I have told them that? Never mind all that.

Facebook Reactions

What struck me both amusing and of interest was that this particular sponsored post was it was the first I noticed had more than reaction, and the second reaction was “angry” with the total reactions count right next to it.

Facebook Reactions

This immediately made me laugh, and have several additional thoughts. First, I guess I wasn’t the only one who was “surprised” by the advertisement. However, I wasn’t compelled to react with “anger.” My second, and probably more professional thought/question was, “are brands ready for these reactions?” Given Facebook’s advertising network, and stream of significant revenue, it seems VERY likely this could pose a future frustration for advertising companies and brands.

Within the advertising configuration, you can market to your fans – those users who have liked your Facebook page – or friends of fans, pretty self-explanatory, OR Look-a-Likes. There’s a bunch of other segmentation like location, demographics, and interests but it’s this latter option which allows advertisers to purchase sponsored posts to users who match similar criteria as their own page or a list of uploaded email addresses, presumably collected legally within CANSPAM.

It’s this last option should give brands pause. As the social media equivalent of a marketing cold call, a cumulative negative or unfriendly reaction to the post could be detrimental for a page or brand if the reactions start spiraling quickly. Even while writing this post, Facebook hasn’t updated any screenshots in their content for Advertisers to reflect the changes with Reactions.

So what should a brand do that’s currently active or interested in sponsored posts?

Re-evaluate the network overall. Is your brand still conducive to the channel? If the answer is maybe, or you’re not sure, then consider pausing your advertising until more is known about how Reactions will impact brand perception.

If Facebook is the right channel and audience for you, choose a post that’s benign or generally positive. Everyone loves cats, right? Well, some users who consider themselves dog lovers, but haven’t identified as such on Facebook, may not and could use the “sad,” reaction, which leads to …

Have a plan for engagement, re-engagement, or re-action. This should include initial monitoring, but also on the ready to pull the advertising or provide comments within the post that provide additional engagement if the reactions skew toward that type negativity.

Did I mention monitoring? Digital advertising too often is, “set and forget,” which is generally bad. But with this type of this change, it could also be dangerous. Media buyers and those tasked with managing social media should pay extra attention to posts being used for paid media and to ensure their performance is reported to leadership.

Report on the performance of your Reactions and ensure senior leadership in your organization is both aware of the changes with Reactions and how it’s impacting your brand. This will become especially handy if the executives know a particularly unfriendly bit of news is about to be announced and can help you avoid negative surprises down the road.

Overall, be authentic. Even unfriendly brands or organizations receive some points for keeping it real. If you’re willing to accept all the reactions; the good, the bad, and the angry, then embrace it … assuming the above is in place for monitoring and reporting, you may end up for the better at the end.

My guess is Facebook will introduce some type of “sentiment” feature to the Reactions for advertisers to help throttle or discontinue a sponsored post if it’s not generating positive interest. Until then, this is somewhat uncharted territory. Even YouTube, while it features a “dislike” button on videos, it’s on the video itself and not advertising streamed before the file is played.

This is definitely a change worth keeping a pulse on and ensuring you’re ready to react, pun completely intended.

Post Tags:

Ad Networks, Advertising, Changes to Facebook, Facebook, Friends, Friends of Friends, Like, Look-a-Likes, Reactions, Sponsored Ads, Sponsored Posts,