Denis Grankin Head of Sales Department

New Facebook Reactions are great, but not in the way you think they are

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facebook reactions


They are vibrant, saturated, and amusing in a simplistic sense that social media taught us to convey amusement. Emoji. Facebook has just updated and altered their firm reaction - Like - and now we have whopping six emoji to nuance our emotions after reading a feed story.

Great, right?

Big Algorithm is watching you

big algorithm

The Facebook news feed algorithm ranks posts of people and groups you follow or like and decides what goes on the top of your news feed and what deserves to lag behind. For an average Facebook user, it’s about 1500 weekly posts. And nowadays, this algorithm is one of the most sophisticated and fascinating pieces of software engineering ever built. Everybody hates it.

The news feed seems baffling, misleading, and apparently practices pure guesswork when offering you stories. For instance, thanks to Facebook I’m extensively informed about a lifestyle and habitual patterns of some remote pals that I added just to be polite. I know where they went yesterday, what they ate, and I start to recognize their pets. Yet I don’t know that an analyst whose ideas interest me posted a new article.

Like button

In 2010, the Like button was introduced. It helped the algorithm to understand which stories actually intrigue users, what authors do they like. It was a major leap, besides other criteria Facebook had used to list those posts. In the beginning, the system had been ranking higher materials that had more your friends mentioned. As FB has been evolving, the algorithm has been growing with clever tools to gauge humans’ preferences.

Up until now, it has been taking into account your likes, shares, comments, flagging spam, hiding posts, and merely all other points of interaction, even including the time you’ve spent reading a story relative to other stories and your connection speed. By summarizing these data, the system assumes upcoming posts you might like better and ranks them accordingly. Eventually, the goal of it is to make you stay engaged longer. But with that bunch of variables, no wonder that it makes bad shots.

The hateful six emoji

Julie Zhuo, a product design director at FB, says that embracing the entire spectrum of human emotions would take 20 to 25 reactions which are unbearable. The solution to it was to choose the most popular stickers people used and decide a few substantial ones to become reactions. A research took about a year.

Facebook reactions

Facebook has been encountering much of criticism for their changes. Although this addition was received generally well, there is a rant about oversimplifying humans. Some people get insulted by shaping their beautiful and subtle minds into the cliche of 6 crude emoji.

In terms of marketing, it’s hard yet to gauge how the new reactions are going to impact the entire advertising approaches. According to the FB tendencies, the addition will shortly make remarketing better tailored to reactions people use which provides more specific tools for advertising.

On the other hand, many complained about the lack of the Dislike button or couldn’t psychologically tick Like under a story of someone’s death yet the post appeared important for a user. Now you have:

  • sad,
  • angry,
  • like,
  • love,
  • haha,
  • wow.

Perhaps, the problem here is that Likes have over time become some sort of an FB currency to reward an author for valuable content. And it works for other social media as well. We’re prone to consider social media reactions as measures to address other people, rather than to inform the algorithm.

The merit of this change is far from expanded freedom for shortcut emotions. It’s rather the way us hinting the algorithm how we feel about its efforts.

The merit of this change is far from expanded freedom for shortcut emotions. It’s rather the way us hinting the algorithm how we feel about its efforts. Whether you like it or not, Facebook is going to know even more about you and alter your feed to strengthen engagement. Not a pleasant implication for those who are afraid of mass surveillance and succumb to conspiracy theories. However, we might now have a timid hope to see more interesting stories and less boring ones. That’s great.

React to this article in Facebook to improve your news feed and stay tuned.

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