You don’t need to Like this: Facebook’s Reactions will massively increase activity on the social network


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Facebook has finally updated its Like button to allow users to express a much wider range of emotions, or as the social network refers to them–“Reactions”–to what others post.

The new feature, which is rolling out slowly (as Facebook tends to do), will create a far more nuanced experience for everyone, and will have a major impact on our engagement with the platform as a whole.

Whether you’ve been prepared to admit it or not, getting Lots of Likes has been your subconscious motivation for posting anything to Facebook. Deep down, you know it to be true:  The more likes your post or share gets, the better you feel about yourself. Depending on the strength of your ego, this could have a fleeting, blip-on-the-radar effect on your mood, or it could profoundly alter it, sometimes for long stretches of time.

But as much as we love Likes, we love attention even more. Facebook’s new Reactions ensure that we will get as much attention for our posts as possible, turning us all into bigger FB junkies.

Here’s why:

People are increasingly turning to mobile as they’re platform of choice for Facebook (and pretty much every other kind of online content) and it’s easy to see why… it’s easy. Kind of. In fact, unless you’re prepared to hit the Like button, reacting to things on Facebook via a smartphone *isn’t* that easy. Typing on mobile devices still sucks, and let’s face it, who has time to type out a comment anyway? Most people who see your posts take no action at all. Reactions changes the game by reducing the effort required to engage. Don’t want to hit Like, but can’t be bothered leaving a comment? No problem, your new choices–very soon–will include Love, HaHa, Yay!, Wow, Sad and Angry.

The easier something is to do, the more likely we are to do it. People who share and those who react are going to start getting a lot more notifications from their Facebook app, and notifications drive engagement.

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It’s a brilliant move on Facebook’s part. With the launch of Reactions, they increase people’s likelihood of engaging with content they see on the platform while simultaneously side-stepping the potential land-mine that a “Dislike” button could have created. Yes, there’s an Angry button, but Angry isn’t quite the same as Dislike. People may use it as a substitute (and I expect a lot of think pieces to be written surrounding its use), but it just doesn’t carry the same negative social impact.

What’s your reaction to Facebook’s Reactions?

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One comment

  1. Charles

    The translation of ‘dislike’ (which FB users have been clamouring for, for years) into ‘sad’ and ‘angry’ is a fascinating exercise in language and iconology. In the same way that ‘like’ is an endorsement, ‘dislike’ seems more of an objective comment on the subject (it quickly suggests that thing is ‘dislikable’) but ‘sad’ and ‘angry’ are very subjective: they’re reflections of how that thing make the commenter feel, rather than judging the thing itself. Fascinating!

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