A few months ago, Facebook announced they were testing (in Spain and Ireland) a new way for people to “like” content. This came as a result of people wanting to show emotion and engage with content without having to leave a comment. Words and vocal expression are so 2015.
So here’s an example of how this is likely to work: your friend posts that her cat passed away, but you may not want to like the post (thumbs up, right?!) and aren’t sure how to comment (cause you didn’t really know the cat, or secretly you hate cats), but you want to show sympathy and be a great friend. Here’s where Facebook Reactions comes into play. Now, users will have the option to select one of seven emojis when “liking” a post: the good old standby of like, as well as love, angry, sad, wow, ha-ha and yay! This Mashable article includes screen shots from the new interface, but it looks like this change is coming to the U.S. sometime in the next few weeks.
For Content Marketers, we’ll have to see how this plays out with engagement and measurement. We’re optimistic, though. More ways for target audiences to customize the ways content makes them feel has got to be a good thing, especially when the content is targeting an emotional response. The challenge for us will be to create content that evokes the emotion we want.
And that’s not the only change hitting our favorite online book of faces (my dear old dad actually calls it that). On Monday, Facebook announced yet another change in its newsfeed algorithm. As we know, Facebook is all about the user, and they’ll do everything they can to help the user avoid content they find annoying or irrelevant. Here is a snippet from Facebook’s press release:
News Feed will begin to look at both the probability that you would want to see the story at the top of your feed and the probability that you will like, comment on, click or share a story. We will rank stories higher in feed which we think people might take action on, and which people might want to see near the top of their News Feed.
Even more than it had previously, the algorithm will prioritize content that the user is most likely to engage with, making it more difficult for brands to reach those who don’t already regularly interact with their content. This means that reaching new Facebook audiences will be a tougher task.
This will also have an impact on referral traffic, but that remains to be seen as this rolls out. More info again from our friends at Mashable.
As a co-lead of our Content Marketing Team at JS (along with my amazing colleagues Tyler Hartsook and Colleen Murphy), I view the emoji addition as a great new wrinkle for us to gauge audience reaction to content. While the newsfeed algorithm is, at face-value, a blow to us marketers, I view it as a worthy challenge. It puts even more emphasis on creating great content and getting in front of those who are most likely to be interested in it. We’ll also be charged with finding even more ways to discover Facebook users’ “adjacent interests” and test this new algorithm to see what Facebook deems appropriate.
We’ll be sure to keep an eye out on this and will report back as we learn more. Is there an optimistic-everyman emoji? Like Tony Stark’s pose on every Iron Man movie poster? Missed opportunity, Facebook.
(Image courtesy of Facebook Inc.)