How advertisers have 'reacted' to Facebook Reactions

MUMBAI: So, the social media giant Facebook has rolled out a whole new range of emoticons for users to ‘react’ with. This has come after the long standing legacy of the ‘like’ button. The new reactions, namely ‘Haha’, ‘Wow’, ‘Love’, ‘Sad, and ‘Angry’, were highly anticipated by the advertising fraternity until  Facebook  revealed that it won't be letting advertisers use these new reactions as a way to create targeted ads. For now, reactions would only be counted as additional ‘likes’, meaning that an “angry” reaction would be treated the same as a “wow”.

Though initially put off by Facebook’s decision to keep the new reactions out of their reach, advertisers and digital marketers have found ways around this. What makes these new reactions such a lucrative tool for digital marketers is its immense power to look into consumer insights.

“There is a lot of learning from it on a broader scale, but since Facebook as of now isn’t revealing the exact numbers of ‘angry’ or ‘wow’, advertisers are having a hard time in making the most of it. But, you can actually can see who has liked it or ‘loved’ it if you hover over the new emoticons. Once you physically count that list, you can put a number of it. Though tedious, but not impossible,” points out Isobar India MD Shamsuddin Jasani Aka Shams.

Now why would a marketer go through the trouble of physically counting these reactions? What’s in it for her or him?

“It’s a great tool to understand, learn your consumers for a brand. You can see what tonality and emotions consumers have for content. We can figure out what kind of posts, communication and content that are working with a brand's TG. Beyond that, the use is still limited and it will take some time before people start using it extensively,” Shams shares, adding that the new offering is all about analytics.

PnB Metlife digital marketing, ecommerce and digitization head Abhishek Rathi too feels that the new reactions can prove to be a powerful tool for marketers like him. Especially for re-targeting of campaigns. The net adoption of these features is what marketers are closely paying attention to, Rathi says. “Right now we have to wait and watch if people are actually using it or not to make a significant difference. Currently the majority of what we can work with on Facebook are likes and shares. Comments can give you some consumer insight but isn’t a huge help. Similarly we need to wait and see exactly how we can use these features in marketing.”

“The first thing that I predict is the number of engagements on the posts going up,” Shams observes, “ It’s not always that you like something, you might really like it, love it, or dislike it. Having more to the spectrum to react with also makes people interact with the site more. Earlier people were restricted by only the dislike button, but now the new emoticons are making engagements go up.”

Given its potential use for brands, media planners especially on the digital front, are contemplating on how to incorporate these reactions under their bouquet of services. Shams feels that reactions have a huge scope when it comes to accentuating data and analytics further.

“Of course the planners, who need to buy the right kind of inventory for their client will have to take the new reactions into consideration. It is still difficult to correlate who liked it or loved it and accordingly bought it, as the analytics are not in place right now,” shared another well-known media planner who wished to remain anonymous.

But it is the creatives or the content creators who can make the most of this new feature. Content creators will be able to gauge what reactions their work is getting and where they need to tweak to get the desired result.

“When we are talking about corporate social responsibility or a social cause, it helps to know how our viewers and consumers are reacting to the campaigns; the emotions behind their likes. It's the next level of engagement,” says Rathi.

Brands which are most likely to jump on this bandwagon and try out the new Facebook reactions for their campaigns are the youth oriented brands, brands with brand language that lets them experiment and try new things. Citing an example from his own client base, Shams says, “Myntra’s brand Anouk, which we handle, has a communication that many like while others may also dislike. It is very clear in what it wants to say to its audience. These reactions can be a help to the brand. Brands which are steadier in their brand communication will wait and watch first.”

Ecommerce and digital start-up companies will be the next to take the new feature seriously for their marketing. “Then you have the likes of Coke and Pepsi who will soon follow,” Rathi adds. The sport leagues can also be big takers for this new feature, Rathi feels. “The IPLs, ISLs, kabaddi leagues and tennis leagues of the world can make a huge advantage from these as it is an association of pride and entertainment. Anything which involves a whole community will try to make the most of this tool,” he adds.

Another advertiser who wants to stay ahead of the curve is United Beverages Limited. UBL has started to look at how these new reactions can affect its marketing strategy. Not only that, UBL, Marketing SVP Samar Singh Sheikhawat shares that UBL is also keeping the ‘angry’ reaction in mind.

“Brands need to be more responsible and responsive now. We need to be more on the ball, because unlike earlier, the ‘angry’ button can become the new ‘dislike’. Not that it has never happened before. In the real world, there are consumers who like one product, others love the same and there are few who can even hate it. Earlier that emotion seldom got reflected to the brands, but now the game is changing,” he says.

With so much excitement among brands in making use of Facebook reactions in marketing, one has to wonder if it’s ethical to use such data at all. “That’s true. We need to be careful how the information is used and it needs to be monitored well. As a marketer I am thrilled about the opportunities this gives us but personally I am not comfortable with my personal data, likes and dislikes being shared with companies who can make use of such data. But if it is an aggregate that you are sharing, it will not be so much of an issue. Suppose 50 per cent of ‘love’ or 20 percent of ‘angry, etc. From a privacy standpoint I don't think it's in the interest of customers to share individual data points.”

Sheikhawat on the other hand has a slightly different perspective. “I don't see how it can become unethical. The fact of the matter is when you sign up for Facebook. you share your personal data.  When you get a new app or service, you let it access your Facebook data, including your preference. When you make any of your reactions public, you are sharing it with the rest of the world. It is already happening and consumers are aware of it.

On a positive note, many marketers also observe that NGOs and campaigns for social causes can get a huge help from the added feature. Several marketers are of the view that if the data is readily available to marketers, consumers who are aware will not adopt the feature as much and therefore its effectiveness even from an aggregate standpoint will go down.

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