For years Facebook users have pushed the social network to allow them to express different emotions with a simple click of a button, rather than the standard “like.”
Now the company has fulfilled its previous promise to introduce a new range of buttons which use the now ubiquitous emoji. Users will now be able to express ‘Like,’ Love,’ Haha,’ Wow,’ ‘Sad’ or ‘Angry’ as part of a new set of so-called Reactions.
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Six new emoji reactions now available in your Facebook News Feed
To use Reactions simply hold down the Like button on your mobile and select the button you wish to publish. Desktop users need only hover over the Like button in order to see the suite of Reactions.
Facebook has been testing the new buttons for more than 12 months in 6 different countries. A “Yay” button was dropped at the last minute as research showed that there were some countries in which it was not understood.
Each post in your home feed will now feature a tally of each Reaction. By tallying them up Facebook will avoid the visual clutter that would have become an eyesore if each individual emoji were displayed.
New Reactions designed to maintain high levels of engagement
There is no argument that Facebook is attempting to capture the full range of human emotion with the new buttons. It is offering a quick and simple way to offer a reaction to a post, while preventing trolling by omitting “disgust” or “trash” emojis.
Facebook enjoys high rates of engagement from is users and the social network obviously has an interest in maintaining that. In the fourth quarter of 2015, 1.6 billion people around the world visited the site at least once per month, up from 1.55 billion in the third quarter. 1.04 billion people visit Facebook every day.
Research for the Reactions suite took in focus groups, surveys, and in-depth research into existing patterns in comments and emojis to work out what people wanted to express most often. The winning emojis were found to be universally understood.
Will Reactions suite continue to grow in the future?
“We have been very intentional about really understanding what people are trying to communicate on Facebook right now and how can we make that easier,” said Tom Alison, engineering director of News Feed.
It has taken years for Facebook to bow to the pressure. Users have been calling for a “dislike” button for years in order to express their disapproval of certain posts. With the increasing proportion of mobile users pressure increased even further as people pressed for quicker ways of expressing themselves.
Gartner Research analyst Brian Blau says that calls for a “dislike button” showed the frustrations of users. “What these emoji do is give greater granularity in expressing what you are thinking and feeling about something that was posted on Facebook,” Blau said.
Now that the new emoji have been introduced, analysts have begun to wonder whether users will eventually be able to express an even wider range of emotions.
“We would consider it if it feels like that’s going to be something that fulfills a need,” Alison said when asked about the possibility of even more emojis. “We’ve wanted to make sure the product is lightweight, simple and understandable. The more reactions we add, the more complicated it gets.”
The feature has been adjusted according to feedback received in multiple markets, and Facebook says that it will keep updating the offering. “This is not the end. Whenever we launch something globally, we learn a lot and we improve the product. We listen to the feedback from everyone using it,” Alison said.