A short history of Facebook reactions
Back in February 2016. Facebook reactions were added to the News Feed in the form of emojis as a long-awaited alternative to the famous Facebook ‘’Like’’ button. However, the public reaction was not as great as planned. Facebook users haven’t used the new emojis a lot. Their primary choice of reacting to newsfeed content was still a familiar ‘’thumbs up’’ or a ‘’Like button’’. From today’s perspective, it is easy to say that users have warmed up to this update, which became a true success. But let’s go through the history of Facebook reactions and their impact on the algorithm.
From Flop to Success
According to the research done by Quintly in 2016., only 2.4% of all interactions with content were through the new Facebook reactions emojis. All other interactions were made through the Like button, shares, and comments. You may ask why are we talking about 2016.? We wanted to emphasize how much the situation has changed with time. Since that long-gone 2016., Facebook reactions have not only stayed on the platform. They’ve become an essential part of Facebook users. For Facebook mobile and desktop. They now impacted its newsfeed algorithm.
Why the need for reactions?
Reactions on Facebook were first released as a response to many pleas directed to Facebook by Facebook users to include a ‘’dislike’’ or a ‘’thumbs down’’ button in its newsfeed. Considering public opinion, Facebook assigned a special team for this task. The result was something even better. A full spectrum of emojis with which you can react to any Facebook post, comment, or, added later, a friend’s message in Facebook Messenger. Very convenient, isn’t it?
What’s the novelty?
The emojis include six different emotions: Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, Angry, and the classic Like. Here is why it was a good idea to offer them to Facebook users:
- This was a well-needed Facebook innovation. Some tragic life events like deaths, break-ups, or other situations that people often share on their profiles just weren’t likable content. Even so, Facebook users wanted a way to express feelings on Facebook without writing a comment. Emoji reactions came as a perfect solution.
- The good thing is that the new reactions on Facebook functioned precisely the same as Likes. You just need to hold down the Like button. The reactions menu will appear above it. There, you can easily choose the best-fitting emoji each time you want to react to a post you see in the app. It was really simple for users to catch up on this new option and start to use it.
- You can only add one type of reaction per post. Understandably so. Available emotions are quite different, so you won’t have a dilemma between choosing love or an angry emoji as your reaction. If it still happens that you choose the wrong reaction, don’t worry. We write more on the topic of changing, removing, and hiding reactions in the further text.
Reactions in Facebook Messenger
In March 2017, a year after introducing Facebook Reactions underneath the posts, Facebook updated Messenger, too. Now, you could leave your reaction with an emoji to any message you’ve received through Messenger. As many predicted, this turned out to be a hit amongst users of fast-paced Messenger groups. It allowed them to react quickly to messages appearing in the Messanger stream without having to write anything. Social Media Today reported in their article back in 2017 that Facebook Messenger Reactions were used 2 billion times in the first two months of Facebook rolling them out. Quite a success, we would say!
Even though this update was rolled out as an add-on to the first Reactions update, many argued that it was more logical than reactions on the posts. Looking back from 2023, we’d say that both upgrades were a success since they are still being used on the Meta platform.
How do Reactions impact the Facebook algorithm?
Now, we’re getting to the critical part. In 2017., just one year after rolling reactions out, Facebook finally confirmed the rumor that reactions impact how your newsfeed is updated in the app or desktop version.
Why so? Reacting with a reaction Facebook emoji takes an extra step that a user needs to take to show their emotion. While merely liking a post shows Facebook that it’s content you’re interested in, responding with a reaction sends an even stronger signal and shows a deeper level of user engagement each time it is used. This is an extra step in the user’s engagement journey with your content. Because of this, Facebook wanted to give reactions higher value than ”Like” so it started to promote and push content that received increased reactions. This opened up the doors for a bit of controversy regarding the algorithm, which we covered in further text.
Better organic numbers?
On our blog, we wrote an article, Facebook posts without paid Facebook reach are (almost) useless, where we talked about the drop in organic posts’ reach. So, it’s not hard to conclude that any form of better visibility of your page should not be taken for granted.
It’s important to mention that back in 2017. Facebook still stood by its statement that all reactions are weighted the same. Whether you’re reacting with ‘’love’’ or ‘’sad’’, the algorithm will still be impacted the same. Yet it is stronger than if you would have reacted with a simple Like button. How has this changed over time? Keep on reading.
Reactions to controversy and changes
Here is a short overview of changes made to Facebook reactions and their impact on the algorithm since 2016.:
- Back in 2017. Facebook claimed there’s not yet a distinction made between emotions shared on Facebook, but they all ”weigh” 5 times more than just a Like.
- After many controversies caused by the outbreak of clickbait and shocking content on people’s newsfeeds, Facebook needed to do something about it. The first downgrade to the angry emoji ”weight” came in 2018, when Facebook cut it to four times the value of a like, keeping the same weight for all of the emotions.
- Fast forward to 2019, when Facebook finally downgraded the value of ”Angry” reaction to zero, which marked the end of this whole debate about how Facebook reactions, especially Angry” curate users’ newsfeeds in a bad way.
- As quoted in the Hootsuite article, How the Facebook Algorithm Works in 2020 and How to Make it Work for You, as of 2020. Facebook has stated that its focus is on ”helping users understand the algorithm and take control of those ranking signals to give it better feedback.” Facebook reactions Facebook recognizes as one of the main forms of feedback that Facebook takes into account when altering your newsfeed algorithm, so use them wisely.
”When Facebook finally set the weight on the angry reaction to zero, users began to get less misinformation, less “disturbing” content and less “graphic violence,” company data scientists found. As it turned out, after years of advocacy and pushback, there wasn’t a trade-off after all. According to one of the documents, users’ level of activity on Facebook was unaffected.” – The Washington Post wrote in its 2023 in-depth article on how Facebook’s reactions impact on algorithms changed over the years.
Some people were ironically ”angry” at Facebook’s delayed reaction on this whole topic since they removed the weight of the ” ”Angry” reaction only when the newsfeeds of users became almost unbearably folded with sensational and fake news. They thought there wouldn’t be any change without public reaction and outrage. In any case, we’re glad that the change happened since favoring sensational and often low-quality and fake content and pushing it to users’ newsfeeds was not a way to proceed with the development of the platform.
What do Algorithm changes mean for your Facebook page?
It means you must work harder to create content (video or photo) engaging enough to encourage your followers to leave their reactions to your post. By doing so, the algorithm will automatically award your Facebook page. It will put it more often on a concrete user’s newsfeed as it will be recognized as something that he or she enjoys more than other content available on Facebook.
But, when planning content, be mindful of changes in the Facebook algorithm that we mentioned above. Shocking content that causes outrage in the form of ”Angry” emoji reactions won’t help you get viral anymore. As we said, in 2019, Facebook ended this and removed weight from ”Angry” reactions so they no longer affect users’ newsfeed experience.
Instead of shock value, offer your audience content that they will enjoy and make them leave you positive reactions, which will help you grow a strong community and wider organic reach.
How do you use Facebook reactions in your social media campaigns?
As we already said, Facebook reactions Facebook recognizes as a unique engagement metric that companies can measure easily.
- help you understand user emotions and gain a deeper insight into your audience preferences. By analyzing different reactions one post got, you can get valuable information that will help you curate future content to better meet your audience’s preferences.
- be a tool to engage with followers who, for example, frequently leave ”love” reactions to your posts. This kind of ”singling” out people who literally ”Love” your content can be time-consuming, but it is an amazing way of building a strong community of super fans.
- be a useful way of tracking the success of your social media campaigns. By analyzing the amount of positive emoji reactions vs. negative ones, you can get a clear picture if the posted content resonated well with your target audience.
- help you in creating more engaging ads with content that will tap into the most relevant emotions that pop up under reactions.
Can you remove or change Facebook Reactions?
Well, good news and bad news. Once you’ve reacted to a Facebook post, the notification is sent, so you can’t really take it back. But what you can do is change the emoji you’ve chosen. To change, for example, an angry reaction, you will need to react again to the same post and, this time, select the emoji you want. For example, haha reaction. You change reactions the same way you reacted for the first time. Push down on the ”Like” button, wait for the emoji menu to appear, and choose the new one.
If you want to completely remove your reaction from the same post, simply click on the reaction you want to remove and hold down the button. An emoji menu will appear, allowing you to remove all your reactions from that post. It’s like an ”undo” button for your reactions.
Hide/Unhide reactions posts
In addition to removing and changing reactions, you can also hide them. How to do it? Simply click on the three dots in the post’s upper right-hand corner and select the option ”Hide reactions”. It is a good way to declutter your newsfeed if you prefer seeing only things you want to see and not posts to which your aunt reacts each day. 🙂
If you change your mind and want to bring back reaction posts to your feed, do not worry. Go to your Facebook settings and click ”News Feed Preferences”. Select ”Reaction” and choose to show them on your feed again.
In the end, don’t forget to be creative when planning your social media content – video posts work amazing right now. If you need some inspiration, read our blog post about the Top 10 solutions for inducing creativity on social media. Always make sure to encourage your social media followers through the post copy. Remind them to use Facebook reactions. Include a voting post in your monthly social media content schedule where users can vote by using Facebook reactions. The more your users get accustomed to using reactions on your posts, the more visibility your content will get in the future. So, remember to use this option wisely.