Zehnder Communications, Inc.

4 Ways Facebook Reactions Change the Marketing Landscape — and 1 Way They Don't

Have you heard about Facebook's new "Reactions" feature? Does it fill you with love, laughter, anger, shock, or sadness? If you identify with any one of those emotions, Facebook wants to know — and the social media giant has now made it possible for you to share those feelings with the single click of a button.

As of this week, users can now choose to respond to any piece of content with "Like," "Love," "Haha," "Wow," "Sad," or "Angry." Not only does this new feature mean that you (as a consumer) will finally be able to clearly express your frustration with your friend's tenth cat video of the day; it also means that you (as a marketer) will be able to clearly see some changes in the way your brand engages with its Facebook followers. Learn how Facebook Reactions will (and won’t) change the marketing landscape below.



4 Ways Reactions Change the Marketing Landscape

They will (mostly) increase engagement. From a big-picture perspective, Reactions are a positive thing for brands seeking to boost engagement on their Facebook page. Not only do Reactions provide users with the option to do more than simply "Like" a piece of content; they also encourage users to pause and consider their true feelings toward a piece of content. In a world where Facebook "Likes" are sometimes considered cheap vanity metrics by skeptics, Reactions are a positive step toward more authentic engagement. 

They will present a new monitoring challenge. Although Reactions may boost authenticity, they may simultaneously increase confusion among marketers. The Facebook Page Insights dashboard, i.e. the hub of performance analytics for a brand's Facebook Page, is currently not configured to monitor Reactions at present, making Page performance analysis difficult. And even if Facebook does roll out Reactions tracking within the Insights dashboard (which we assume they will), marketers will still be left wondering how to make sense of all of these emotional data points. What does a "Love" mean in comparison to a "Like," and is it the copy, image, or brand in general that makes users "Angry" about a post? Reactions will add a whole new level of complexity to social media analytics, and brands will need to invest in consistent research efforts to properly interpret them. 

They will enrich brand personas. Reactions bring brands and their followers one step closer by allowing a faster, clearer exchange of emotions — which could suggest that users will increasingly acknowledge the "personality" of brands as they respond and react to branded content. In this way, Reactions serve as an incentive for marketers to define and commit to their brand personas. If your brand isn't consistent in its tone, voice, and messages shared over Facebook, you'll receive literally mixed emotions in return.

They will further establish Facebook as a major marketing platform. According to the latest research, 72% of Americans with Internet access use Facebook, and 70% of those users access Facebook daily. In addition to boasting the largest user base among all social media platforms, Facebook continues to advance beyond Twitter, Pinterest, and others with its highly targeted advertising options, the introduction of Instant Articles, and its top-rated mobile app. Facebook Reactions take this social media platform yet another step ahead in terms of user engagement and sophistication, making Facebook an essential platform for marketers in any industry.

1 Way Reactions Don't Change the Marketing Landscape:

They won't change marketers' ultimate goal. There's one thing that Reactions won't — or rather, shouldn't — alter for marketers, and that thing is the end goal of brands' content strategies. Despite the enhanced engagement and analytics that these new buttons offer, brands shouldn't overreact to Reactions and shift their marketing objectives. Although it could be tempting to produce content strictly to accrue "Loves" and "Wows," brands should continue to produce content that aims to convert — by increasing users' brand sentiment and ultimately leading them to purchase your goods or services. Because to marketers, that's what real "Love" looks like. 

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