Why You Need to “Love” Facebook’s New “Reactions”

The late David Bowie’s song “Changes” has been in my head all day. (BTW, RIP, Sir Goblin King. Hope you’re enjoying that Labyrinth in the sky.)

I’m humming “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” in my head because Facebook has done it again — another transformation. This time in the form of a newly expanded “like” button — one that allows multiple forms of expression.

Facebook calls them “reactions.” They’re a set of six symbols, mostly faces. (Emojis, as the kids say.) The children’s book would be called “Facebook & The Six Dwarfs,” starring: Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry.


It’s the answer to a long call for a “dislike” button from lots of Facebook users. Because, let’s be honest, it’s not exactly cool to “like” a status about say, David Bowie’s death. If only we could do the opposite of a thumbs up “like” to the post, right?

However, in a very smart move by the folks at Facebook, the company decided a “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” wasn’t the right direction. It makes sense. A thumbs down would likely breed a lot of negativity on Facebook. (Yes. Even more than what’s already spewing from your crazy uncle’s status updates this election season.) Plus, we’re expressive people these days! We’re in touch with our (many) emotions and willing to share them with the world.

Facebook decided to go with a more nuanced approach. I dig it. Kudos to Facebook for thinking this through. The company spent more than a year testing it around the world, making sure the reactions translated and made sense for every culture. The new feature has been slowly popping up on more and more Facebook accounts as the tests expanded. Now it’s worldwide. (Facebook made the announcement on the newsroom section of its website, along with a video.)

So what does this mean for public libraries and social media marketing?

All good things! As Bowie would say:


The most important goals in social media marketing center around engagement. Encouraging engagement, getting engagement, maintaining engagement, increasing engagement.

These new Facebook reactions give users more ways than ever before to engage with your posts. Gone are the days when their only choice was to “like” your post. Maybe they didn’t like it? (Gasp!) But now instead of just skipping past your post in their news feed, maybe they’ll be more willing to stop and leave a reaction. With the six new choices (and I would guess more expansions to come) there’s most certainly a reaction that fits their feelings about your post.

Imagine, when we all posted the news about Harper Lee recently passing away, if our customers could have expressed their reactions to the post with a Sad face instead of the glaring “thumbs up” like symbol? More people would probably have been likely to interact and share in mourning and honoring her life.

Same goes for the other five reactions. Maybe that meme you posted deserves a Haha. And how do you express your feelings about the new Harry Potter book coming out this summer? Maybe your initial post gets a Wow. Then a followup post gets a Love. Perhaps you post about a special exhibit or display nearing its closing date. That customer who didn’t want to hit the thumbs up Like before, may now react with a Sad face or Angry face. You get to hear from more of your customers in a variety of ways.

Whether it’s Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, or Angry — any interaction with your post will count in your engagement numbers. This means more users interacting with you, and more chances for you to get credit for it. That’s a beautiful thing!

So, Ground Control to Major Tom, buckle up, “take your protein pills and put your helmet on” — we’re entering a whole new world.

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Learn more about the author.

Opinions are my own. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of my past or present employers.


One thought on “Why You Need to “Love” Facebook’s New “Reactions”

  1. Not sure I like those new buttons. They seem very close together and hard to click. At least that is how they seem on my phone which is how I access Facebook most of the time. I will have to play with them more. What do you think?


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