If every action has an equal and opposite reaction, Facebook is in for a lot of attitude.
Over a billion users are now adopting the new Facebook Reactions feature which launched on February 24. For a little background, Facebook Reactions enable users to react to in-feed content in six ways: the loyal Like, and the newly minted Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry (see above). While designed to be an extension of the “Like” button, taking the extra step to hover and select a Reaction consciously forces users beyond the habitual “Like.”
We spent the last two weeks observing behaviors and testing them out ourselves. Below are our six hypotheses for how Facebook Reactions will impact the way we analyze content performance.
Hypothesis 1: Reactions are a new user behavior. It will take time for Reactions to be fully adopted into the social action lexicon and used at the same frequency as the “Like” button.
Don’t plan to set your Reaction benchmarks for at least 90 days.
Currently, less than 10% of users reacting to posts are using Reactions. From an analytics perspective, this means that Reaction benchmarks are now a moving target. It is also likely that the use of Reactions will increase in the coming months with little-to-no relation to the quality of the content. Because use has been very limited so far, we expect it to take at least 90 days for a stabilized benchmark to appear from Reaction use rates. Over time, this number is likely to increase as the action becomes second-nature to users.
Hypothesis 2: While Reactions provide more context, they do not provide incremental value for brands.
Currently, Facebook does not weight one Reaction higher than the other. A Like is equal to a Love and so on. For analysts, Reactions essentially carry the same value as a “Like,” but are now dimensionalized. In addition, Facebook groups all Reactions in one column in an export and does not value one Reaction higher than another (yet) in the NewsFeed algorithm. In this sense, there is no significant incremental value for Reactions at this time, but we are watching and waiting to support or reformat this hypothesis. We theorize that the new behavior will normalize after two months and we can then gain a more accurate view of user activity. In addition, Facebook may adjust the NewsFeed algorithm to weigh Reactions differently once it gleans enough data on user activity. For example, we anticipate Facebook will serve posts in feeds where users indicate they “Love” particular types of content more than posts where they click “Like.”
Hypothesis 3: Better content will drive more Reactions and fewer standard Likes.
Content that provides value will elicit Reactions. This one is a bit obvious, but if you think about it, a “Like” is the most passive action taken on the platform. In many cases, someone hitting “Like” after seeing a post could be a benign action, indicating that the user simply recognized that they saw the post. When a post provides value, it will elicit a deeper interaction from a user. Eventually, engaging content will demand a more nuanced or impassioned response.
Hypothesis 4: Reactions shouldn’t be taken at face value.
It’s all about context. Don’t treat Reactions as a 1:1 for sentiment. Reactions are treated like emojis: they may mean more than one thing to a user. And they may be applicable on more than one level. Using Lady Gaga’s Oscar performance as an example, posts with highly emotional content may evoke “Sad” Reactions, but that does not necessarily mean that the post has negative sentiment. For reporting purposes, we’ll adopt a best practice to not assign Reactions as 1:1 for sentiment. Instead, we’ll take the context of the post into consideration and assign sentiment accordingly.
Hypothesis 5: The more Reactions your posts have, the more it will stand out in a user’s feed.
Reactions are thumb-stopping. The eye-catching nature of Reactions in the NewsFeed can provide a snapshot of how users feel about content – especially if the Reaction is from a good friend or trusted source. Think of it this way: I would rather see photos of my nieces or videos from Tasty amid any other noise in my NewsFeed. However, if an article showcased that it had “Love” and “Wow” Reactions – coupled with engagement from a friend who shares similar interests as me – I may stop. This trait gives Reactions the power to build reach, and brands should be aware of this potential.
Hypothesis 6: Reactions empower consumers to express their personal preferences for individual pieces of content irrespective of their overall opinion of brands.
Brands should use Reactions to their advantage. Brands may interpret negative Reactions as negative perception towards their brand images. However, social media permits polarizing opinions which ultimately reflects passionate customers. Reactions can aid brands in evaluating their content and assess brand health with the ability to engage on a personal level, address issues in real-time and optimize strategy at an efficient pace. This is especially important given the 1:1 messaging limitations of the platform. Brands should address negative Reactions in the post comments to the whole post audience.
Stay tuned for more POVs from the DEVIANTs as we stay up to date on content developments.
By Mary Sue Somyak