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 first public reaction was not as great as planned. People 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’’.

According to the research done by Quintly in 2016., only 2.4% of all interactions with content was through the new Facebook reactions emojis. All the other interaction was made through Likes, shares, and comments. You may ask why are we talking about 2016.? Well, we wanted to emphasize how much the situation has changed in the last two or so years.

Since that long gone 2016., Facebook reactions have not only stayed on the platform. They’ve become an essential part of it. They now impacted its newsfeed algorithm.


If you want to find out more about changes made on Facebook and Instagram throughout the years read a great article about Facebook algorithm changes by Ballantine. In it, they made an informative list of the biggest Facebook and Instagram updates from 2018. to 2020.

Why the need for reactions?

Reactions were first released as a response to many pleads directed to Facebook 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 inbox message.

The emojis include six different emotions: Love, Ha-ha, Wow, Sad, Angry, and, the classic Like. 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 a likable content. Even so, people wanted a way to express feelings on Facebook without writing a comment.

The good thing was that the new Facebook reactions function 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 to the post you want to react to. You can only add one type of reaction per post. Understandably so. Available emotions are quite different from each other, so you won’t really have a dilemma between choosing love or angry emoji as your reaction.


How do they impact the Facebook algorithm?

Now we’re getting to the critical part. In 2017., Facebook had finally confirmed the rumor that Facebook reactions have an actual impact on how your newsfeed is updated.


Why so? Well, reacting with a reaction emoji takes an extra step which a user needs to take in order to show their emotion. While merely liking a post shows to Facebook that it’s a content you’re interested in, responding with emotion, sends an even stronger signal and shows a deeper level of user engagement.

On our blog, we recently 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 Facebook still stands with 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, stronger than if you would have reacted with a simple Like.


What does that mean for your Facebook page?

Well, it means you need to work harder on creating content engaging enough to encourage your followers to leave their reaction on 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.

Once again, there’s not yet a distinction made between emotions shared on Facebook. Don’t expect that you won’t see anything from a Facebook page to which posts you always react with an angry emoji. On the contrary, that is a content which will appear more often on your newsfeed. A little bit confusing, we must admit.

If you want to find more detailed information about the changes in the Facebook algorithm in 2020. we recommend you an amazing article from Falcon, How Will the Latest Facebook Algorithm Change Affect Marketers? 5 Valuable Tips for 2020.

How to use Facebook reactions in your social media campaigns?

As we already said, Facebook reactions represent a unique engagement metric which companies can measure easily. 

They can:



As quoted in the Hootsuite article, How the Facebook Algorithm Works in 2020 and How to Make it Work for Youas 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 are one of the main forms of feedback that Facebook takes in account when altering your newsfeed algorithm so use them wisely.

In the end, don’t forget to be creative when planning your content. If you need some inspiration, read our blog post about the Top 10 solutions for inducing creativity. Always make sure to encourage your followers through the post copy. Remind them to use reactions. Include a voting post in your monthly content schedule where users can vote by using the 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.

Last Updated: January, 2020


Darija Ilić

Account executive at Kontra agency. PR graduate, huge animal lover and travel enthusiast.