Early last week, Facebook introduced to us a feature we never knew we needed, reaction emojis. Users now have the ability to not only “like” a post, but also “love it” or react to it with an emoji. Current available emojis include “haha”, “wow”, “sad”, and “angry”. This feature is new to most, but two test markets were given a sneak peak of reaction emojis in October of 2015.
Ireland and Spain were selected as optimal test markets due to the nature of their Facebook use. Users in Ireland and Spain tend to be more autonomous when it comes to Facebook, meaning that they interact and share within their own countries more than with outside regions. This minimizes the potential user experience (UX) nightmare of being able to see reactions without being able to actually use them (for users outside of the test markets).
Now that we have been granted access to this new feature, what kind of implications does this have on our Facebook use? It’s hard to imagine any new feature surpassing the popularity of the “like”. Personally, I recall the introduction of the “like” and, as I assume most users felt, was relieved that I could now interact with my friends’ posts without having to craft a witty sentiment or start a potential comment war. It simplified the entire process of using Facebook. It also broadened my reach as a user, as I could now scroll through my newsfeed and instantly showcase support for any post with almost no effort.
Will the introduction of reaction emojis have the same effect as the “like”? Will we see the volume of comments diminish? Comments hold their place as being a more significant interaction on any social media platform than a simple “like”, “love”, or reaction emoji, as they do require slightly more effort. But now if you think a post is sad, you can simply select the sad reaction emoji as opposed to commenting “Sorry to hear!” or any other message of condolence. It will be interesting to see the changes in user behavior and interactions on Facebook over the next few months.
In time, we will likely notice the incorporation of additional Facebook reactions and perhaps see this feature on other social media platforms, as well. But would an app like Instagram, for example, change its model of double-tapping for likes and a simple stream of comments to reflect the changes we are seeing on Facebook? Or are reaction emojis specific to platform? Facebook has been a trendsetter among social media platforms since its inception, so one thing is for sure, the competition is taking notes.