Advertisers Excited About New Reaction Buttons on Facebook

Facebook just began its global rollout of five new social Reactions. Rolling the cursor over the Like button on the computer (or, a long-press on the smartphone) will reveal those options: Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry. As with Like, the bottom of each post will tally the number of Reactions. Although many hoped for it, there will be no Dislike button. While Facebook does not have immediate plans to use these new Reactions for ad sales, advertisers and brands are reportedly excited about the concept.

“Advertisers have long had a pretty precise idea of who you are when they’re targeting you on Facebook — perhaps most importantly who your friends are and what you like,” reports Wired. “But Reactions offers a wider palette of emotions to put on public display.”

“This is a major change to the way we analyze [brands’] audiences and our work,” said Jason Stein, CEO of social media agency Laundry Service. “It really overhauls how you analyze your Facebook channel.”


According to The Wall Street Journal, although the addition of these new Reactions sounds simple, it actually has “big social implications.” “Reducing complex human emotion to a set of Pac-Man faces is dangerous — especially considering how Like-happy we already are,” it says.

California State University, Dominguez Hills psychology professor emeritus Larry D. Rosen agrees. “Our life has been distilled into finding a way to express our feelings with the least amount of effort,” said Rosen, who also wrote “iDisorder,” a book on tech obsession. “If clicking a ‘Sad’ button makes us feel like we have expressed a deep emotion in a split-second, we’ve got problems.”

WSJ suggests “some rules” on when and how to use the new emotions, counseling that the Love button should be “used sparingly.” “Love is more than a lot of liking,” said Cal State LA psychology professor Thomas Bradbury. “It is qualitatively distinct.”

The addition of buttons for two negative emotions — sad and angry — is a step forward. “When faced with a heavy-hearted post, you no longer have to debate whether to mash the Like button to show support.” But, it adds, expressing anger and sadness “with a click” has its own downside, giving users an impersonal shortcut rather than typing out personal, more meaningful responses.

Wow and Haha were chosen based on “the emotions people expressed most in comments and the top stickers and emoticons,” said Facebook lead product design director Julie Zhuo. “Wow seems to cover a whole range of OMG-grade feelings, both good and bad. Haha seemed far simpler.”

Bottom line, don’t take any of these new buttons too seriously, says WSJ. “They’re cartoon faces masquerading as human emotions. They’re just buttons, people.”

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