SMEs should prepare for social media backlash spreading at a much faster rate when Facebook’s “Reactions’ feature rolls out, a social media and PR expert has warned.
Facebook revealed this week it has begun trialling a number of alternatives to the traditional ‘like’ button, including buttons that will allow a boarder range of reactions in the form of emoticons.
The new ‘Reactions’ feature will first be trialled in Ireland and Spain before being rolled out to other countries.
The trial follows indications last month the social media giant was working on alternatives to the ‘like’ button.
On his own Facebook page today company chief executive Mark Zuckerberg revealed the six new reaction buttons will include emoticons for “love”, “haha”, ”yay”, “wow”, “sad” and “angry”.
In a Facebook post yesterday Zuckerberg said the changes represent a “more expressive ‘Like’ button” after taking on board people’s feedback about the social network adding a “dislike” button.
“Not every moment is a good moment, and sometimes you just want a way to express empathy. These are important moments where you need the power to share more than ever, and a ‘like’ might not be the best way to express yourself,” he said.
In a statement yesterday Facebook product manager Chris Tosswill said for businesses and publishers, the new feature is an opportunity for them to “better understand how people are responding to their content on Facebook”.
“We’re excited to start this test, but understand that this is a big change, and one that we want to make sure to get right,” he said.
Nicole Reaney, director of InsideOutPR, told SmartCompany this morning she believes overall the changes could be good for SMEs, and could allow such businesses to receive richer feedback on their products and services as well as their content.
“Right now if consumers are negative towards an event or experience, it’s not as easily seen by other consumers at first view as ‘likes’ are,” she says.
“Currently they need to read comments to see any negativity, which the majority of people don’t read – unless there’s a degree of controversy occurring like we’ve seen recently with a number of brands.”
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Reaney says for customers of SME businesses, the range of six different reactions would allow them to express themselves more effectively than with just the like button.
“Most people don’t have time to ‘comment’ so these new buttons enable them to provide their feedback quickly – whether it’s positive or negative,” she says.
But Reaney warns businesses could also become an easier target for ‘hate’ campaigns if a post goes viral because of the use of the new “reactions”.
“If a consumer has a negative experience and shares a ‘sad’ or ‘angry’ emotion, then this is likely to trigger more responses in that vein as a means to support that consumer,” she says.
She says the recent backlash against JB Hi-Fi about the way one of its stores handled a customer with Down syndrome demonstrates how quickly negative feedback can go viral on the social network.
“Now imagine if it was now easier for people to get behind a person and support them by a click of the button,” she says.
“Brands will need to ensure they have issues management plans in place, and are prepared to respond and manage negative situations before they explode online and generate wider awareness fast.”
Reaney says businesses should starting reviewing the social media content it currently posts on Facebook and consider how to engage customers to do more than simply like a post.
“Brands will be competing to achieve a ‘Haha, Yay or Wow’ ,which demonstrate to other consumers a more favourable reaction,” she says.