A Marketer’s Guide to What Facebook’s Newest Feature Could Look Like

Facebook’s ‘like’ button has inserted itself into everyday language and become synonymous with social media itself. For years, there has been a clamouring for a ‘dislike’ button to appear as an option as well and it seems like Facebook users are going to get what they want. Well, get what they want in a kind-of-sort-of-not-really-but-almost type of way.

Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that the team at Facebook has been working to create a new feature that will let users express how they feel about a post in new ways. No one is quite sure what exactly this new feature will look like, but it is certain to change the way people use Facebook forever.

These developments beg the question, how is this new feature going to impact the way companies and organizations use Facebook? The short answer is, we don’t know. Without knowing what the feature looks like, and what it will allow users to express, no one can predict how it will change the way marketers draw attention to their organizations or causes. However, we can look to a few sources to predict what this new feature might look like and its influence on businesses, associations, non-profits, etc.

The first thing we need to think about is what the feature would look like. Zuckerberg has said that the feature would help users express their feelings toward a post in new ways and he specifically mentioned empathy. For example, if a tragedy occurs and someone posts about it, the Facebook CEO wants users to be able to express sympathy or empathy towards it, something a ‘like’ doesn’t convey. Zuckerberg ruled out a ‘dislike’ button as a solution, but there are a couple other likely ways Facebook can give users a better way to express emotions on the fly.

The first would be quite simple and play on the popularity of emojis and emoticons, those digital icons of smiling faces, cute cats or random eggplants that are popular with the iPhone crowd. Alongside the ‘like’ button on posts, there could be heart icon or a similar emoji to symbolize love or empathy. Instead of 26 likes on a tragic post, you would get 26 ‘hearts’ perhaps.

The other theoretical option for the new feature would have Facebook take inspiration from Buzzfeed, one of the most popular websites around with a knack for posting viral content. Buzzfeed has a rating system that allows visitors to tag articles as ‘lol’ if it’s funny or ‘cute’ if it’s, well, cute or a variety of other rankings. Facebook could adopt a similar format that allows users to flag a post as one of these emotions, such as sad, funny, cute or useful.

When examining the impact of these two options on Facebook marketers, the first option will not impact businesses or organizations too much. There aren’t many occasions when small businesses or associations would post about tragedy or sad topics, but when they do, this new feature will allow their followers to react accordingly.

If the second option is instituted, it will certainly be interesting to see how organizations use an emotional rating system to increase views and engagement on their content. For example, organizations may tend toward creating and sharing more Buzzfeed-like content, which is made up of gif-based lists and viral videos (although they have great long-form journalism that is often forgotten or barely mentioned), in an attempt to get more ‘lol’ or ‘cute’ ratings.

Whatever the case may be, there is one certainty for organizations and their marketing departments that will come with a new Facebook feature alongside the ‘like’; it will give them more data to work with. Giving users another way to express emotion allows both Facebook and its users to get a better handle on how people respond to different content. Organizations and businesses can take this new set of data and format their marketing around it. Marketers will be able to get a better sense of which type of data preforms best and which demographics to target. More of any type of data can only be a good thing for organizations using Facebook, so keep an eye on the social media platform and watch for the mysterious new feature!

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