Advertisers Frustrated by Facebook’s New ‘Reactions’ Feature

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  • March 8, 2016

Have you seen the latest addition to Facebook’s ‘like’ facility? They’re called ‘reactions’ and they allow a Facebook user to do much more than just ‘like’ a post.

But while they’ve been welcomed, on the whole, by the Facebook user community, it seems that business advertisers are yet to warm to them. And when you analyse the situation you soon start to see why.

Reactions allow Facebook users to express their feelings about a certain post and they boast several emoticon facial expressions, including “love”, “haha”, “sad”, “angry” and “wow”. You’d think that this new feature would be an advertiser’s dream. After all, it allows for an even more definitive way of targeting ads.

The problem, however, is that Facebook hasn’t yet started using these reactions to differentiate a person’s feeling about a particular post and counts any ‘reaction’ as an additional like. The bottom line is that even if a Facebook user reacts to a particular post with an angry expression, the social network will assume they ‘like’ the content and show them more of it in the future.

Facebook has said that it will look to refine the way reactions are used going forward, but that can’t come soon enough for advertisers, with many wanting to use it for more laser-focused targeted and ultimately expressing frustration with the feature in its current form.

“I think we should be able to use it for targeting,” said Jonathan Adams, chief digital officer at New York-based Maxus Americas.

“If I am Hillary, I would be thrilled to target people who can’t stand Trump right now,” he said, referring to the ongoing US presidential nomination campaigns of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Other advertising executives have said that further analysis of the “sad” and “haha” expressions could lead to even more detailed consumer behaviour insights being obtained. This would allow companies to pitch more products that people are likely to buy.

“There hasn’t been much of an opportunity for people who are less vocal on social media to vocalize satisfaction,” said Chris Gilbert, senior social strategist at digital agency Kettle.

Advertisers will eventually be able to use the reactions to target audiences, he said. “It’s going to have a pretty big impact in understanding our work.”

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