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How should we react to Facebook Reactions?


On the 24th February, Facebook made one of their most significant updates of the year so far, by rolling out “Reactions” globally across the network. Years ago, if users had wanted to react to a post or status update they had no alternative but to contort that emotion into an understated “Like”, or expend their precious energy putting that emotion into words as a comment – until now…

Now commanding a massive 1.59 billion active users a month, Facebook is the world’s most popular Social Networking site – so it’s not surprising that any update, no matter how small, will be big news amongst users. “Reactions” have been received with mixed criticism; some have praised the Social Network for helping to limit instances where they have to be literate, others have criticised them for slowly transforming the site into something resembling Myspace in the Nineties. Most, ironically, don’t know how to react.

Why have Facebook made the update?

In an announcement on the 24th February 2016, Facebook explained that they had been listening to their users and “know that there should be more ways to easily and quickly express how something you see in News Feed makes you feel”. They claim to have released “Reactions” after more than a year’s worth of global research into how people react to posts in comments. In a press release, Facebook explained that they believe their new feature will allow “Businesses and companies to better understand how people are responding to their content…” We’re still unsure whether Social Media Managers should be expected to measure and analyse success of their content in “Sads”.

There have been a number of campaigns in the past for Facebook to introduce a “Dislike” button as an alternative to the “Like” button. However, when Mark Zuckerbergoriginally announced the Social Network’s intention to release an alternative, he made it perfectly clear that it wouldn’t be a “Dislike” button per-se. Both Zuckerberg and the network wanted to allow users to express a larger range of emotions but were worried that a “Dislike” button would be used to bully other users or downvote their posts, hence what we have now.

The Reactions that made the cut

Facebook claimed to have carried out global research into common reactions to posts across the network before deciding on what to include. The emotions that made the cut are the humble “Like”, the unsurprising “Love”, the fairly self-explanatory “Ha Ha”, the likely-to-be-used-out-of-context “Wow”, the slightly patronising “Sad”, and the fairly blunt “Angry”.

How to React to Facebook Reactions

Regardless of what they think of the update personally, Social Media Managers should be thankful for the increase in activity that the update will give them, while ignoring the persistent dread that they will soon be analysing the power of a “Ha Ha”. As far as normal users are concerned, many people have criticised the network for a lack of access to sufficiently sarcastic “Reactions”. To those people we say that, if sarcasm is what you aim for, each reaction has the capacity to be sarcastic if used out of context! And just be thankful that they have been integrated into the current “Like” system as a hover-over so you don’t have to look at them all the time.

Photo Source: [CC BY SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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