Do you ever “like” something on Facebook? If so, life is about to get a bit more complex. The social networking giant is about to roll out something called Reactions, which will allow you to express your feelings in a more nuanced fashion. In the conference call with analysts after Facebook’s blockbuster financial results, Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that Reactions – which are being tested in Spain, Ireland and a few other places – would be shown everywhere “pretty soon”.
The idea, the chief executive said, is to add “a little bit of complexity” to something that is very simple. “When you only have a like button, if you share a sad piece of content or something that makes you angry, people may not have the tool to react to it.” So now Facebook users are being given new tools in the form of emoticons labelled “love”, “haha”, “wow”, “sad” and “angry” – or they can still just “like”. There was another button marked “yay” but that has been removed after pilot users apparently said: “Err….what??”
For more than a billion people who visit Facebook every day there may now be a tricky period of adjustment. Do I just like that picture of your dog or do I love it? Should I go as far as telling you I’m “angry” about your views on the issues of the day – or is “haha” enough? But it’s advertisers who will be really going “wow” about this change to the way Facebook works. The latest results show just how much they have bought into the social network’s message that it offers a unique way to connect with consumers and learn everything about them. Now they will have a far more complex set of data.
Simon Calvert, head of strategy at the marketing agency Lida, says if the new system accurately reflects human emotions then it will be very interesting.”Emotions travel five times faster than rational thought,” he said. “So the ability to build better emotional connections with consumers is something that advertisers really prize.”(BBC News, 2016).