The reaction to Facebook Reactions

The reaction to Facebook Reactions


It’s been almost three months since Facebook fundamentally changed how users engage with content and introduced Facebook Reactions in February.

There was a lot of buzz after the initial launch about the potential inherent in the change, particularly for brands. How much simpler would sentiment analytics be if you could tell at a glance whether users were enamored or furious with your brand?

But more recently the talk is that “nobody uses” reactions, or that “like” is still the go-to reaction the majority of the time.

Let’s take a peek at study from earlier this month and see how Reactions are really doing.

So do people actually use Facebook Reactions?

Users have seized certain reactions (notably “love”) with enthusiasm, particularly when it comes to video content.

On the other hand, the proportion of Reactions to old fashioned Likes remains low, the fact that spawned so many less-than-optimistic reports

The important thing to remember is that Reactions are less than three months old. On a network with more than 1.5 billion users, changes, even big ones, can take a long while to make their impact felt.

The facts

The data is based on 130, 000 Facebook posts analysed by social media measurement service Quintly.

According to the study, 97 per cent of Facebook interactions are made up of the “traditional” likes, comments and shares. The brand new Reactions made up only 3 per cent of interactions.

Before you feel too bad for the new kid in this scenario, remember that likes, shares and comments have been daily habits for years now. Facebook Reactions are not only new, they also take fractionally longer to use. Even a small delay can impact user behaviour, especially on mobile.

It takes less than a second to move from thumbs-up to love heart, but when Facebook measure things like thumb-stopper moments in a matter of seconds, it all counts.

Likes are by far the most used interaction on Facebook, taking up 76.4 per cent of the share. The next popular is shares, with only 14 per cent of interactions.

This is easily explained. Likes are quick. You don’t need to spend time articulating a Like. It can be used for anything from acknowledgement, support, interest or, shockingly, to indicate that you like a post.

With such a multi-purpose response available in just in a fraction of a second, it’s no surprise that responses that require more thought lag behind.

The reaction to Reactions

Facebook Reactions may not have instantly taken over our lives, but there are some interesting nuggets of insight to be had from the data.

Reactions were developed to allow Facebook users to easily convey a wider range of emotion than “vaguely positive acknowledgement”. Reactions are inherently emotive. They can tell us a lot, especially when it comes to branded content.

By far the most commonly used reaction, after Like, is Love, with more than 50 per cent of non-Like reactions. Sad and Angry come next, followed by Wow and Haha.

The main take-away here is that positive reactions are by far the most popular, and while the pressure was on Facebook for years to introduce a “dislike” button, the fact remains that people are more likely to be positive (which, in the context of a troll-riddled internet, is cheering).

But the Like button already did that. People need a real reason, a real emotional response, to use a Reaction beyond Like. They need something that really deserves that extra split second of their time.

This is clearly invaluable data for marketers, and a new way to instantly measure social engagement. After all, an emotive response of one kind or another is the aim of almost all marketing, whether you’re making people smile, think, or cry, you want them invested in your message.

So if you want a reaction, the data says go with video.

People interact less with videos (they take longer to engage with) but when they do they’re more likely to react emotively by using a Reaction.

If it’s a volume of engagement you’re after, images are the way to go. They get a higher volume of likes, but fewer comments, shares and Reactions than videos, so the data will tell you less.

And as we said before, this is just the beginning for Reactions. With billions of users (and more on the way) Facebook Reactions are going to tell us a lot about our social campaigns.



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