Last week we discussed what a Facebook “dislike” button could mean for advertisers. In this article I argued that a dislike button would enable the user to express a greater range of emotions to truly reflect how they might feel about a particular subject or post, thereby also empowering advertisers to target users more effectively. The reaction of many however has been that a dislike button would only increase negativity across the platform – not only from user to user (which has been the primary concern) – but also from a business point of view towards advertisers.


Well it looks like Facebook have come up with an answer to these concerns in the shape of emoticons.


Rather than a simple dislike button, Facebook are in process of trialling a range of emoticons – demonstrating love, laughter, happiness, shock, sadness and anger – that users will be able to pick and choose in order to express more accurately their reactions to a post.


Facebook Emoticons


While I argued that the speculative introduction of a dislike button should be considered as an opportunity by advertisers, rather than yet another piece of ammunition for them to have to defend themselves against, it is clear that to introduce such a function would contain some level of risk for Facebook. After all a lack of control and means of safeguarding across social media is something that can and has proven to be incredibly detrimental to the reputation of social media sites – Twitter’s problem of Internet trolling being a prime example.


While it is helpful to Facebook to provide a broader spectrum of emotions for users to engage on a more in-depth level with the platform, it is of course in Facebook’s own interest to also try to ensure that this engagement remains a generally positive one. In a great article by Robbie Gonzalez of Wired magazine entitled The Surprisingly Complex Design of Facebook’s New Emoji, Gonzalez describes this as “Facebook’s upbeat empathy” providing what he calls an instructive contrast to a similar project undertaken by Pixar in the making of Inside Out.


So what will these new emoticons mean for advertisers?


Ben Woods from TNW News explains, from a page management point of view these new emoticons will display in the same way as the Like button is currently displayed. While this increases the amount of monitoring page managers will have on their hands it should also provide greater accuracy.


While the dislike button would have perhaps made monitoring reactions to a post a little simpler there is no doubt that emoticons provide a bit of a cushion to the blow of a poor review – not to mention less opportunity to deliberately target another user or advertiser.


The same tenets however remain true. The introduction of a greater range of emotions should only improve the advertisers understanding of how users are interpreting their posts. While previously users might have engaged with a post but not responded to it – because of the lack of a function in which to express their particular emotions at the time of reading – the introduction of a broader reflective process should not only improve the way Facebook determines what to show a user but should also in turn help the advertiser provide more useful and ultimately more engaging content.


Images courtesy of BBC News and Wired


By Paul Gregson