Simply liking things is passé now that Facebook can accommodate a larger range of simple emotional reactions. The new reactions feature has gotten some buzz this week, allowing users to select from a host of emojis in place of a “like” on posts that show up in their news feeds.
Based on my own news feed, some of my friends (yes, I do have them, and it was rude of you to wonder) didn’t seem very enthused about the idea of emoji reactions earlier this week. Knowing them, I predict that the new function will be put to use as an ironic comment on the simulated nature of emotion in virtual interactions -- until they forget to be ironic and aloof, and start using the reactions genuinely within a couple of months.
Personally, I’ve wanted a “dislike” button for years, but this seems to be a more constructive way to express my displeasure with the occasional nonsense that I scroll past.
However, looking at it from a marketing perspective, there’s a treasure trove of consumer mindset data to be had from the stupid yellow faces. Apparently, the presence of reactions already inclines users to engage with more posts, and as the new function rolls out to Facebooks 1.59 billion monthly active users, higher engagement can only be a good thing for advertisers and brands on the platform.
Reactions may also give brands better insights into how people feel about their products.
So far, reactions are only available on Facebook, and there are no plans to roll out the function to Instagram or Whatsapp for now, but that could happen in the near future.