Facebook Reactions: How Will They Influence Marketing?


How does Facebook’s new Reactions feature play into the constantly-evolving landscape of social media marketing?



When Facebook announced its new “Reactions” feature back in October, users began anticipating a more unique and interactive social media experience. Instead of being chained to one uniform reaction to their friends’ posts, users finally had the variety they had been asking for. In fact, users had been demanding a “dislike” button from Facebook for about 7 years.

For users, Reactions means more variety. It means an opportunity to respond uniquely and personally to a friend, co-worker or family member. It means more accuracy in expressing ourselves. And for the most part, Facebook says its users were in the driver’s seat when it came to choosing which reactions would be included in the new feature.

But what are the potential benefits and drawbacks from this new feature? What do they mean for marketers in social media?

The Possibility of Richer Data

When it comes to Facebook reactions, the biggest potential boon is richer, more complex data.

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

Facebook’s reach is staggering—they report over 1 billion daily active users, the majority of which gain access to the site on a mobile device. With this amount of potential reach, it’s no wonder that many marketers are ecstatic about the new feature. Instead of measuring a campaign on likes, which has long been considered a semi-meaningless metric, marketers and brands can rely on a slew of other reactions to give them insight into how their audience is receiving and responding to their posts.

Of course, it’s impossible to say, this soon after the feature’s launch, exactly what that richer data might look like and how it might influence our behavior on social media.

It could mean re-targeting a Facebook ad to exclude followers who initially responded with the “Angry” or “Sad” reaction. It could mean targeting a specific ad to followers who responded with the “Love” reaction to a similar post. It could mean throwing out a campaign that earns primarily negative reactions and no click-through from users. It could mean trying to re-create a campaign that receives primarily “Sad” reactions but also receives a stellar click-through rate. And on, and on, and on.

The possibilities, at least for now, seem limitless.

More Segmentation from Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm

Facebook has reiterated that, as of right now, pressing one of the Reaction buttons will register the same as if you had simply pressed “Like.”

But it won’t stay like that forever.

According to a post on Facebook Newsroom, the plan is to eventually weight users’ particular reactions to influence the content they see on their newsfeed.

“Over time, we hope to learn how the different Reactions should be weighted differently by News Feed to do a better job of showing everyone the stories they most want to see,” the post read.

So what does that mean for marketers?

Right now, only conjecture and theories exist. Many marketers feel hopeful that a Reactions-influenced algorithm will deliver their content more effectively to those who want to see it and are thus more likely to engage with it.

Others feel trepidation about the change: is the Reactions feature indicative of actual engagement? Or is it just another vanity metric that offers little insight into who actually cares about your content?

At this stage in the game, there isn’t enough data to say.

The (Inevitable) Potential Concerns

As with any major new feature on a major social media platform, there are drawbacks and concerns.

Reactions is no different. Many critics have come out of the woodwork to express ire over Facebook’s supposed “hidden agenda” and disappointment that the Social Network didn’t introduce the “Dislike” button that users have been requesting for nearly a decade.

One of the loudest criticisms? That the new feature is still restricting.

Amanda Hess, writing for Slatewas particularly critical of Reactions’ main utility: letting users craft distinguished, meaningful responses to a piece of content.

Hess writes, “If it’s not clear why users would choose a yay reaction over a love reaction, then the data is meaningless.”

It is a distinct possibility that the new collected data will not yield anything like a road map to better targeting or more engagement for your brand’s posts. Some users have expressed a preference for the “Like” button on its own, stating that giving a post a thumbs up doesn’t necessarily mean you “like” the content; a thumbs up, after all, means different things in different cultures. For many users, a thumbs up was a great way to express general acknowledgement of a post or its writer.

As the Facebook Reactions feature continues to influence and change the way we use the social media platform, one thing is certain: there will continue to be plenty to talk about.




  1. Quite an interesting post. Indeed, the Facebook new reaction buttons has its potential benefits and inevitable drawbacks.

    One thing for me is clear though, with these features there would be more room for content segmentation.

    Social media marketers are going to use the opportunity to segment their content so as to meet with the reactions of the audience.

    Nevertheless, the drawbacks discussed must not be ignored. Only time will tell if these reactions are real or imaginary!
    Sunday William recently posted…How SMART Is Your Personal or Business Goal for Now?My Profile

  2. How will the Facebook reactions influence marketing? Well, its simple – they are going to ensure a more detailed and clearly defined marketing approach to address the needs of the audience.

    It will help give better expression to the kind of posts, shares and comments expressed. Knowing that a person’s reaction is ‘sad’ about a product would surely help the brand focus and promote contents that will change the reaction to happiness!

    Hopefully, I have answered this question? 😉

  3. Sure, there is the possibility of richer data when it comes to the Facebook reaction.

    They are going to influence marketing in the way that will bring about generation of increased data.

    The content will now be richer in the sense that the target audience’s needs is considered.

    The reaction will give Facebook marketers ideas of real expression of the audience instead of what is obtainable with the “like” button, which is too generalized!

  4. Hi Brittney!

    Great article with a lot of insights on Facebook! 😀

    I do agree with what you are saying here, in general, this new Facebook feature will definitely influence Facebook Marketing. For paid ads and for free facebook marketing methods.

    There are many possibilities, indeed. I mean, there is just more data from the users now.

    I think it is a fact that Facebook is now planning some sort of new changes to their PPC Advertising Features. Since they can now tell how someone is reacting to a certain post – this can be such a helpful insight for a marketing strategy within facebook.

    Thanks for sharing this information, Brittney!

    Very valuable, indeed. 🙂

    Keep up the great work!

    have an awesome weekend!
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  5. I have mixed feelings about the new Facebook ‘Reactions’.

    On one hand, I like them and I think they will help marketers assess the strength of their campaigns and measure whether they obtain the desired effect (example: expected positive response against unexpected negative or confused response).

    On the other, though, I think Reactions can be as easily manipulated as Likes and other forms of simple feedback, so they definitely won’t make for a completely reliable metric; possibly a side metric, but not the most important.

    In the end, compelling feedback and conversions remain the most reliable metrics.

    Also, as reported in the TechRepublic article linked, Reactions are about the topic at hand, not about the brand, so keeping the distinction in mind is important.

    All in all, in terms of general engagement and analysis of user sentiment, Reactions make for a nice addition to the pack. 🙂

    ~ Luana

  6. Hi Britney,

    Well, after going through this post, I have come to the conclusion that this statement should be taken seriously “

    Right now, only conjecture and theories exist. Many marketers feel hopeful that a Reactions-influenced algorithm will deliver their content more effectively to those who want to see it and are thus more likely to engage with it.

    The Facebook reactions will have more effect on brands that encourage engagements!

  7. Very interesting thoughts shared in this blog post!

    I see that many companies presented on Facebook started to use Facebook reactions to promote their products/services as well.

    For example, they create competitions using Facebook reactions as the mechanism of actions in order to participate.

    I suppose that soon we will see more unexpected marketing creations 🙂
    Krystsina recently posted…24 Best Windows Phone Apps for Small Businesses in 2016My Profile

  8. Hey Britney,

    Facebook reactions have changed the way we do things on this popular platform.

    From the introduction of these features, it was expected that these would bring about better engagements.

    Engagement influences marketing in the sense that people would be able to convert by association.

    At this point, there are many reactions – positive mostly – on Facebook reaction buttons.

  9. Hi Brittney,

    Indeed, Facebook reactions influences marketing. It is common knowledge that the like buttons uniquely reveals what individuals think about a comment or link shared.

    With the many reactions buttons that are in place, we are now can uniquely express our intentions so that the sharer and other readers will use it to follow the trend of conversation!

  10. The new Facebook reaction buttons readily reveals different expressions that could be attributed to followers. Each reactions expresses an emotion that tells what the reader is thinking and possible give the social marketer an idea of where to channel his marketing.

    Therefore, a good understanding these new features will harness the concerns of the readers so that marketing plans would be implemented for success!

  11. All I know is that Facebook reactions are influencing marketing by ensuring that the right emotions are related.

    If this happens, the marketer is able to learn of what the audience thinks about his/her Facebook posts.

    Its good to have all of the revelations in this post and also all of the links and resources shared to buttress the points made!