Why You Should Care About Facebook's New 'Reactions'

Why You Should Care About Facebook's New 'Reactions'0Shares

How do you feel about Facebook’s new “Reactions”?

Do you “love” them? Do you think they are “haha” perhaps? Or maybe “sad”, or even “wow”? Do they make you “angry?”

It is no secret that Facebook twerks your specific News Feed based on your past "likes." A controversial research paper the social media magnate published back in 2014 revealed that Facebook had altered the News Feeds of over 700,000 users to see if certain types of content would affect their emotional state— that is, uplifting news would make them happier, depressing news the obvious opposite. Turned out that no, not really.

Which is why Reactions are so beneficial to Facebook. It no longer has to delve into any sort of shoddy or clandestine Big Brother-type activities to gauge— in real time numbers— how its users are feeling (on the six-deep emotional spectrum of feelings, anyway). That sort of statistic is Facebook's best asset if the plan is to affect behavior and thought among its users.

Why does Facebook care about changing your behavior?

Facebook’s entire raison d'etre is figuring out the ideal algorithm to lengthening  user engagement on News Feeds. If it can figure out what makes you tick, it can provide you with individualized, optimized content while benefiting advertisers and ultimately itself, simultaneously. Win-win-win, or so the idea is.

Mic put it best: “This tailoring of your feed affects how news organizations report and distribute valuable information, and it's influencing how political campaigns shape their messages. It can even have an impact on which candidates reach a bigger audience.” Ultimately, it’s the advertising industry’s wet dream.

Why do advertisers love Reactions?

Although Facebook insists they are currently treating every “Reaction” as a “like," it is only a matter of time until this changes. Facebook product manager Sammi Krug says that the end goal is “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.”

Instead of just a binary “like” or absence of like, advertisers now have six different statistically-broken-down emotions which they can user to tailor their campaigns, custom-fitting specific ads to populations, demographics, even individuals. They can also encourage users to actively “wow” or “love” certain brands or products, then use that data in the future to target only those positive-reacting individuals.

If this weirds you out, a simple solution exists: simply refrain from using Reactions and use your words instead. Or, you know, just hit "wow" when this post appears on your page.