Everything Marketers Need To Know About Facebook Reactions

When Facebook launched “Reactions” their 1.7 billion users happily embraced the new feature.

Facebook users have been publishing content that was “unlikeable” from the beginning: deaths, sickness, thefts, unemployment… the list goes on. Life’s moments elicit a wide range of emotions, and now people can more appropriately respond to them on Facebook.

The change has also made an impact on businesses who use Facebook to publish content, engage with consumers, and conduct business.

Now that the feature has been out for over half a year, we’ve looked at how these new buttons are being used, and what marketers can do with them going forward.

How To Use The ‘Reactions’ Feature

Desktop: Hover your cursor over the traditional like button on any Facebook post to see the new emotive icons. Select the one you want to use.
Mobile: Hold down on the ‘like’ button to reveal the six reactions. Slide your finger over to select the reaction of your choice.

What Does Each Reaction Mean?

Those who use emojis will know that the meaning of an image can be wildly different from how it’s interpreted by its users. These are the official meanings behind each reaction:

How Are Reactions Measured?

For now reactions are measured as likes, both on the insights part of your page, and in the Facebook API. This means that your social media monitoring tool cannot distinguish the difference between a love reaction, and an angry reaction.


Facebook believes that if someone uses a reaction it infers that the user wants to see more of that type of post. So if you post with the “angry” icon, Facebook’s algorithm will show you posts like this one, or even bubble posts like this to the top of the user’s news feed.

Have Facebook Users Adopted The New Feature?

Social media analytics company, Quintly, conducted a research study to find out. They analyzed 105k Facebook pages between May – June 2016.

They discovered that while reactions make up less than 6% of all interactions (likes, comments, shares, love, haha, sad, angry, wow), they did see a 22.4% increase in usage during the research period.

While adoption is slow, it is clear that Facebook’s users are keen to try the new feature, when expressing their reactions to posts.

Which Type Of Content Encourages Reactions?

Reactions is yet another reason to invest your time, and budget into videos. Quintly’s study revealed that videos receive more Facebook Reactions that image posts. There were 60% more reactions on video content than on other content.


According to Quintly, it’s because images are faster to consume, which generates a faster reaction. A quick ‘like’, and the user moves onto other content. A video, however, takes longer to consume, and encourages a more meaningful reaction. Marketers should take note of this stat, and identify how their brand messaging is best being delivered through content.

How Can Reactions Be Used In Marketing Campaigns?

So far Facebook hasn’t monetized its Reactions but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The company has performed a few tests that show off its marketing capabilities. Check out the examples below:

Mother’s Day

The first temporary addition to the Reactions, after their release, was a “thankful” flower for Mother’s Day. The new reaction was only available for a limited time, but people jumped on the opportunity to use it in posts where they felt “thankful”.
It’s likely it will make a return for Thanksgiving, or perhaps we’ll see a different kind of reaction to represent the holiday.

Star Trek 50th Anniversary

While not quite a marketing campaign, Facebook showed off the capability of Reactions, by changing all the new buttons to Star Trek characters for one day. (Users had to opt in to see the update)
Lindsey Shepard, Facebook Messenger’s marketing lead, took to Medium to explain why they chose to feature Star Trek on their Reactions:

“In order to make this understood by all Star Trek fans, we chose the most iconic and recognizable characters and symbols from the original Star Trek series, as well as The Next Generation,” she wrote. “We also wanted to honor the original design and spirit of Reactions, so we needed visual cues that were easy to identify at a glance, like Geordi’s visor. This led us to our final cast: Kirk, Spock, Geordi and a Klingon.”

International Day Of Peace

This event tried a new tactic. On International Day Of Peace, Facebook included a prompt above the “Love” reaction. If a user clicked on it, tiny hearts would burst over the screen.
Again, this feature was limited to a single day. But people seemed to love the little animation, and begged for Facebook to make it permanent.

Want To Keep Up To Date On All Things Marketing?

Sign up to receive our weekly blog newsletter for the latest news, updates, and tips for successful digital marketers.