Facebook Reactions – How Will They Impact Engagement Measurement?

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Austin Gale UPDATED headshotBy Austin Gaule, PR Measurement Director for Universal Information Services

The day is here! On Tuesday, Facebook officially debuted their new “Like” feature, calling it Facebook Reactions. This new feature has ushered Facebook into a whole new age of social media engagement. And yes, I said ENGAGEMENT. This new feature requires more than just clicking a button. This new feature requires Facebook users to think. Hear that? Facebook is asking people to THINK about their emotions and REACT to their emotions. The “Like” button is now much more than just a button for users to pound when they are scrolling through their content feeds. I’ll save this argument, regarding the new feature as being a form of engagement vs. an action, for another blog. For now, let’s briefly discuss the PR and engagement measurement implications.

How will this affect the social media measurement landscape? I don’t think anyone has a clue beyond the obvious measures we now have access to. Facebook has made tracking these new actions easier on a post-by-post basis. In the graphic below you can see Facebook page managers are now able to aggregate all these reactions in one spot. The big question is, how will Facebook make measuring these reactions easier within Facebook Insights? That remains to be seen. There doesn’t seem to be many changes within Facebook Insights tab that we can see, at least so far.

Facebook Reactions

The new Reactions feature is welcomed by marketing and public relations professionals alike. Reactions give page owners useful information on how people truly feel about a certain post. With all the talk about data-driven story telling the last few years, this will give marketers a clear cut answer as to how people feel about the content they are pushing out on their social channels. After what I assume was a very extensive vetting process for Reactions, I feel like Facebook truly listened to what users have wanted for years. Countless users have exclaimed, “If only there was a dislike button, I would push it right now”. Finally the gradation of emotions is available in Facebook.

Jokes aside, the way Facebook packages this data for customers is of the utmost importance to our field of PR measurement. Ideally, what the marketing and PR communities want is a way to isolate those who comment AND react on a certain status. In particular, being able to isolate those who select the “angry” or “sad” reaction, and pair it to a comment that the user also posts, will certainly be of significance to community/page managers. We can now correlate a bad reaction to a comment. For our field the more data, the better!

We are on the verge of a sentiment analysis golden age. Marketers are going to become smarter and more crafty on Facebook because of this feature. The business side of social media now has at their fingertips the means to understand how their customers are feeling. The only real issue I have with Facebook Reactions is how people will use the “Like” and “Love” options. In terms of sentiment analysis, things can get a bit sticky here. The more I think about it, Facebook has really created a likert scale for engaging with a status post. Will users of Facebook be more compelled to pound the “Love” button rather than just simply “Liking” something? Time will tell.

What are your thoughts on Facebook Reactions? How will marketers measure Reactions and how will they use the data? What are the biggest challenges you see from these new tools for expression emotions? What are the biggest advantages? Feel free to Tweet us your thoughts. Better yet, head over to the Universal Information Services’ Facebook page and REACT to our blog!

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