Facebook reactions now mean more than likes!

Want your Facebook posts to reach more people? Likes will no longer help you as much as Love, as Facebook is updating their Newsfeed algorithm to prioritise “reactions” over “likes”.



“Over the past year we’ve found that if people leave a reaction on a post, it is an even stronger signal that they’d want to see that type of post than if they left a Like on the post,” according to Facebook. “So we are updating News Feed to weigh reactions a little more than Likes when taking into account how relevant the story is to each person.”

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Since the launch, reactions have been used over 300 billion times, with “love” being the most common of the lot, accounting for over half. The reason behind the algorithm update is that users care more about stories they react than stories they like, and are more engaged with that type of content, so Facebook wants to display these posts more prominently in the Newsfeed. The update has several important implications for users and advertisers alike:


  • It takes a longer amount of time to “react” than to “like.” On mobile, users need to hold down the like button to access the other five reaction options, Facebook interprets this as higher engagement or interest in a particular piece of content. In the seemingly endless stream of information and stores in your Newsfeed, these few extra seconds help gauge interest in certain posts and topics.


  • Reactions are equally weighed. Facebook isn’t taking into account the type of reactions — whether happy or sad — when prioritising content in the Newsfeed. For now, they’re all counted as the same. The fact that a user reacts, no matter what reaction, is an indication that the type of story is more meaningful than a casual like. This is also encouraging as Facebook won’t overload a Newsfeed based on one emotional response, but a combination of all five options.


  • Advertisers can potentially cash in people’s emotions. While Facebook did not indicate whether advertisers can target users based on what they react to, the feature is probably in the works. Providing deeper insights into a user’s emotional response is much more valuable that casual like, and has the potential to drive high returns on ad spend. Tapping into emotions may seem creepy and a violation of privacy, but Facebook users offer up this data willingly, and Facebook may be able to use it to build out new ad products.



So for marketers – the main thing is coming up with content that will ensure people use a reaction – we may therefore be seeing (and creating) a lot more poll type posts!