Will Facebook’s New ‘Reactions’ Help Nonprofits & Campaigns?

Beth Becker’s latest “Political Social Grab Bag” e-newsletter is out, and you should check out the whole March issue archived right here, an Epolitics.com online exclusive. Sign up now to get the next Political Social Grab Bag delivered straight to your inbox.

Besides the reading list excerpted below, the full version includes a look at new tools, upcoming webinars, the ever-popular “don’t try this at home” section, who’s winning the internet, and more. Take it away, Beth:

Political Social Media Grab Bag: March, 2016

What’s New to Think About?

By now you’ve all seen the news…the long awaited FacebookReactions are here. Judging from my newsfeed the first 48 hours they’ve been greeted with mixed reactions at best. Many people really seem to hate the fact that there’s no actual “dislike” or “hate” button and many don’t really know what to think. I, for one, have been counting the days til reactions became official.

First, we’ve all felt that frustration of seeing someone post about a death in the family and needing to click “like” as a way of acknowledging that news and the awkwardness of that moment. Reactions allow us to now express “sad” for such news.

Personally I’ve long lamented how difficult it was to discern any kind of sentiment on Facebook. Like was so ambiguous as to be virtually meaningless, except in relation to how it gave signal to the algorithm. Creating these additional reactions now gives us a slightly better handle on the kinds of emotions our content is creating for our community. In digital organizing, we often talk about emotional appeal, and this allows us to start figuring out if we are eliciting the emotions we want to be eliciting.

Do I think there needs to be even more reactions? Yes, there are more I’d like to see, but I have faith that the ones we are seeing are based on the vast amount of data Facebook has at hand. They’ve been testing these overseas for a while now with various other reactions like “Yay” that don’t seem to have made the cut. I don’t think we’ll ever actually see “dislike” or outright “hate” as a possible reaction due to the way that would open up vast amounts of abuse and trolling behavior. That makes sense to me.

For now I’m happy to be able to differentiate between liking something and being angry about something. Of course, I know that in typical Facebook fashion these too will change and iterate over time.

But wait, there’s more! That was just a taste — continue on to the full March edition.

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