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Do Facebook Reactions Really Matter?

Facebook’s reactions allow for new ways of interacting with content—but does it change what we see?

It used to be the case that you could measure a Facebook post’s success by how many likes and shares it had—nowadays, though, it may not be so simple. In late 2015, Facebook began rolling out “reactions,” or different animated emoticons that can be used in reaction to a Facebook post. These include the Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry reactions, as well as the classic Like. While these tools that have been made available to Facebook users for some time now may give users more opportunity to properly express themselves, does it have any impact on how well a post on Facebook does?

Why Are They Used?

For many years, Facebook users rallied behind the request for a “dislike” option to respond to content they didn’t like. Facebook took a more nuanced approach, allowing users to express a wider variation of emotions including sadness or anger when an event isn’t something you feel comfortable “Liking” but still want to show support to. Facebook felt as though a binary like and dislike system wouldn’t be enough and sought an approach that would encompass more potential emotions.

Does it Impact Facebook’s Algorithms?

Facebook has confirmed that using reactions influence the way content is prioritized on a user’s News Feed, but the extent to which it matters hasn’t been revealed. If people put a reaction on a post, it means they’re having a stronger emotional reaction to the comment than if they were to simply like it, so it makes sense for Facebook to prioritize this content. The algorithms Facebook uses are already incredibly complicated and reactions only contributed to that fact.

What Does it Mean For Content Creators?

When we think about how we’re marketing ourselves on Facebook, the fact that reactions do make a difference can alter the way we create content. For example, content with cute puppies is more likely to get heart reacts and therefore more likely to be shared and seen by people who otherwise may not see that kind of content. We may see more content creators trying to work an emotional angle to get those precious reactions out of their Facebook audience.

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