Your News Feed is about to get a little more character. Five more characters, actually. Facebook has begun rolling out animated emoji, called Reactions, that will appear when a user long-presses on, or hovers over, the traditional Like button. Facebook conducted comprehensive global research to find the most common responses to online content, and then worked to package these sentiments into clickable, descriptive emoji that reflect the nuances of human emotion and interaction.
Facebook users can now respond to posts with Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry emoji – each of which animates accordingly when clicked or tapped. Reactions add a level of nuance to Facebook discussions and also represent another instance of interactive features being tightly woven into digital content.
The integration of non-verbal responses into Facebook is important, since, as in real-life, cues like facial expressions are as important as words themselves. Responses are likely to garner more user interaction, since they require less effort than typical comments, and they are, of course, language-agnostic. Reactions are also well-suited for mobile users, considering that 1.44 billion people used Facebook on mobile in December 2015. For both mobile and desktop users, Reactions are interactive in much the same way Playbuzz formats are interactive – they are incredibly visual and clickable, and they encourage the user to engage directly with content in a meaningful way. Reactions are yet another sign that interactive and engaging audience experiences are an important driver in today’s media-consumption habits.
For Facebook, Reactions are part of the company’s emphasis on visuals, interactions and imagery. In fact, the company has invested in its video platform, where OK GO recently premiered a new hit song, and this week at Mobile World Congress, CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented that “the vast majority of the content that people consume online will be video.” For publishers, Reactions enable them to get a more sophisticated understanding of how users engage with their content, and tailor their products accordingly. Ultimately, Reactions will improve how people interact with digital content – and that’s something we can all Love.