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Facebook Reactions: what it means for brands

Paul Button
24th February 2016

Until now, there’s been little you can do to show distaste for a branded post.

As you’ve probably already seen, Facebook rolled out its Reactions emoticons worldwide today. Facebook Reactions is being touted as the closest thing to the much-wanted ‘dislike’ button that’s been mooted by more or less the entire internet for the past five years or so.

Designed as a way to react more appropriately to the kinds of things we all see on Facebook every day, the really interesting thing here is how Reactions is going to be used by Facebook to influence the content we see on our feeds.

If you’re a brand, that should interest you. Brands on social media tend to polarise opinion and, up until now, there’s been very little you can do to register your disinterest, distaste or downright anger at a branded post.

But that just changed and that means…

Good content matters even more.

If Facebook’s own newsroom is to be believed (and let’s take it as read that it is for now, shall we?) Facebook’s goal with its News Feed ‘is to show you the stories that matter most to you.’

Currently, the more interactions a Facebook user has with your content, the more of it they’ll see in their feed. Comments, likes and shares all impact on how often you’ll see your favourite brand’s posts.

In the beginning, it won’t matter if someone likes, “wows” or “sads” a post — we will initially use any Reaction similar to a Like to infer that you want to see more of that type of content.

Ultimately, adding an extra layer of complexity to the mix with Reactions means that Facebook can tailor content more effectively to its audience than ever before.

So if you post something your audience ‘Loves’ then great, expect to see more organic reach long-term. Posting mundane, phoned in content will more than likely see the opposite effect. The question is, will the negative reaction buttons turn ‘post apathy’ into something far more damaging.

But how will all of this affect promoted versus organic post reach? Well, Facebook does say this, ‘Reactions will have the same impact on ad delivery as likes. We see this as an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are reacting to their content on Facebook.’

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A brand’s goal on any platform should always be to drive good organic engagement. That – in the same way a solid SEO strategy is essential for web content – is bread and butter stuff.

Which is precisely why Reactions has the potential to make a massive difference to the way brands operate on Facebook.

I’ll sign off with this, ‘pages should continue to post things that their audiences find meaningful,’ says Facebook.

And if you haven’t started to do that yet, it’s just become more important than ever…

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