Facebook Reactions Takes Us Beyond the Like Button

Beverley Farrell

Have you noticed something different about your Facebook page? Where did those emoji come from? Remember those rumors we kept hearing that there was going to be a “dislike” or a “thumbs down” button? Well, that’s all it was, just a rumor. Facebook does have a new feature though, it’s called Facebook Reactions and it may be an even better solution to expressing ourselves on Facebook.

Why Facebook Reactions?

Did you ever see a post or a picture that was meant to promote awareness about a tragic event or inappropriate situation? While creating awareness is a good thing, do you really want to “like” something that shouldn’t be happening? For some time now, Facebook users have longed for a way to better express themselves on the social media platform. Many felt that there were times the “like” button may have been sending an inaccurate response. Mark Zuckerberg and his crew heard Facebook users and responded with Reactions.

facebook reactions



A Little History

Back in September 2015, Zuckerberg hinted that something new was coming but he was very clear it would not be a “dislike” button. He felt what Facebook users really wanted was a way they could show others that they understood or could relate to what was posted. Zuckerberg agreed with the Facebook community but wanted to create a response system that was empathetic. Thus, Reactions was born.

This isn’t a completely new concept. Other sites like BuzzFeed and social networks like Path offer similar ways for users to respond beyond just “like” or “fave”. Many of us have an even larger selection of emoji on our smart phones, allowing us to be very specific in our responses.

In 2013, Facebook applied for a patent for how such an emoji response feature might work and look. A lot of research went in to exactly which emoji and emotions would make Reaction a success with the Facebook community. Geoff Teehan, one of the design directors at Facebook, explains that Reactions needed to fulfill two main criteria: universality and expressivity. Since emoji are nonverbal in nature, there couldn’t be any uncertainty about what any of them meant in different cultures.

Facebook said the expressive pop up feature was initially tested in two markets, Ireland and Spain. According to Facebook’s director of product, Adam Mosseri, this was because both have largely national user bases without extensive international friend networks, so they work better as closed test groups. Additionally, Spain offered the opportunity for Facebook to test how well the wordless emoji would work with non-English users.


Reaction is made up of six emoji, Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry, allowing Facebook users to express a wider variety of responses that are emotional and empathetic.

facebook reactions

How It Works

Now Reactions is available globally and there are more ways to quickly and easily share a reaction to a post. To use one of these expressive emoji, hold down the “like” button on your mobile or hover over it on your page. They will appear and then just tap the emoji of your choice.

The Impact on Your Facebook Page

According to Facebook product manager, Sammi Krug, this is an opportunity to better understand how people are responding to the content of both, businesses and publishers. Reactions to all post can be viewed on Page insights and will have the same impact on ad delivery as likes. Krug says Facebook will spend time learning from this rollout and use feedback to improve.

What Do You Think?

While most of the early reaction to this is positive, there seem to be a few in the Facebook community who are disappointed there is no “dislike” button. Others are wishing for a “sarcasm” or “eye rolling” emoji. Facebook users, especially those on mobile devices, like the ease of responding with emoji rather than typing a response. According to Zuckerberg, so far the “love” emoji seems to be the most popular so far.

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