The curious case of Facebook ‘Reactions’

What’s your reaction?

I am a Social Media Strategist for an NGO called Human I am Foundation and inter alia, manage their social media presence. Since we are not always running a campaign, our social media posts range from past projects to inspirational stories to keep our followers engaged.

On 14th of May 2016, we conducted a relief drive and distributed packs of fruit juice and buttermilk to those who have to work in the heat of 42 degrees to earn a bread for the day like rickshaw pullers, laborers, rag-pickers, and roadside vendors.

We clicked some pictures and posted them on our Facebook page to give people a glimpse of the world outside their air-conditioned rooms. You too are invited to have a look — Full Album.

Up till now the post has reached over 17k users (Organic + Paid) among whom 461 users have interacted with it. The post has received 440 reactions of which:

  1. 438 are ‘Likes’
  2. 6 are ‘Love’
  3. 2 are ‘Wow’

This is what makes me curious about the new Facebook reactions. I thought to myself “Why do large number of people just click on the ‘Like’ button?”, “Why only 6 ‘Love’ and 2 ‘Wow’ reactions?”

Not just with that particular post, I’ve noticed the number of ‘Like’rs is always higher than those who choose (read express) specific emotions like Love, Haha, Sad etc. on any post by any page or person. For example, a few days back one of my school teacher who taught me Hindi passed away. The news was posted on Facebook by a fellow teacher. The last time I saw it it had 5 ‘Like’s (!) and 2 ‘Sad’ reactions!

I analysed my own impulses towards reacting on a post and asked to myself, “Why did I particularly chose ‘Like’?”, “Why did I not go for any other reaction?”

The answer was instant to me — Visibility.

I noticed that ‘Like’ was the only reaction visible underneath a post so I just clicked on it! I did not care to long-press it to reveal other reactions and then slide my finger to the emotion I wanted to express. I found myself impatient to wait for few milliseconds for the pop-up to appear and I think it is safe to assume that every user faces the same issue.

While on the desktop website a user just has to hover on the ‘Like’ button but on a mobile app the button needs to be long pressed. In both the cases, the pop-up requires time to…well…pop-up. But ain’t nobody got time for that!

The best solution I came up with is to permanently display all the reactions for every post so that users directly click/press on it. Something like this ↓ could help:

Giving equal visibility to all reactions (Suggestive)

As you can see, the new layout provides an equal visibility/attention to all the reactions and thinking from the users’ perspective, there is a higher chance of other reactions getting clicked.

Facebook rolled out reactions to let its users express more specifically how they feel about a post since ‘Like’ was not self-sufficient. On the other hand, reactions were observed as a great opportunity for the businesses who were willing to understand their audience better.

I believe practicing the new layout would definitely make a difference for both, the users and the businesses.

What do you think? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments.

Medium translates that green heart as a recommendation. Try pressing it! Its instant.