Until this February, Facebook gave us very few options when it came to reacting to posts from our friends and pages we follow. If you didn’t want to go as far as commenting on or sharing a post, you could click the thumbs-up button and show your support by “liking” what someone else shared. The only other option was to keep scrolling by and leave no trace of your involvement. This lack of possibilities left many users hopelessly wishing they could “dislike” or leave a thumbs-down reaction to posts they didn’t like and others hoping for a way to show even more support or “love” for a post. After years of giving thumbs-up or nothing at all, Facebook users finally got what they were asking for… sort of.
Facebook released five additional reaction buttons in February that switched things up a bit. The set of choices now are: “like,” “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad,” and “angry.” You can still only choose one but finally you have quite a few more options when engaging with something on your newsfeed. People were quick to notice the lasting absence of a “dislike” button, though. Instead of encouraging users to dislike one another’s posts, which would potentially detract from the company’s mission to “make the world more open and connected,” Facebook makes us reconsider how we really feel. Instead of just showing disapproval, we have to decide whether our dislike comes in the form of “sad” or “angry.” At the very least, we now have the ability to negatively respond in some form.
It was a long time coming for Facebook to create more ways for users to interact with one another. The infamous “Poke” feature may not have been a success, but we were all hoping to see the platform try out some new features to allow its worldwide network of people to react more thoughtfully. Marketers and everyday users alike celebrated the release of Facebook Reactions earlier this year. Of course, for those who use the platform as a marketing medium, the reactions open up new potential in optimizing content and gathering user-engagement data.
Despite all the excitement and new possibilities, the reactions feature may not have made as big of an impact as expected. In a recent study from Quintly, data shows that reactions other than the “like” button are rarely put to use. Other reactions account for only 2.4% of interactions on an analysis of 130,000 posts in the study. Either users don’t know how to access the new buttons or people simply haven’t gotten used to having options yet. Another potential factor is the ease of just clicking the thumbs-up. With the fleeting attention span of users and the flowing pace of online content, people merely may not care to take the extra step it requires to react further than a “like.” Instead of just clicking, the reactions button must be held down (or scrolled-over for desktop) and scrolled through to decide between the five new selections.
We think the new feature needs a little more time to normalize among the billions of Facebook users worldwide. Maybe Facebook will come up with a better way to integrate the reactions into the user experience to give the feature some hope before giving up and pitching the idea all together. Only time will tell how this and future updates will keep us coming back to Facebook for connection, expression, and inspiration.
What do you think? Do you find Facebook reactions to be useful or do you think they should be phased out? Share your thoughts in the comments.