Facebook users have been asking for something better than the like button for some time. Liking a post about bad news feels wrong and the only other option was to comment. Now Facebook has answered its users request with emotion expressing icons called Reactions. The new Reactions give users the ability to “like”, “love”, “haha”, “wow”, “sad” or “angry” a post. That is good news for people who wanted more options but it may mean much more.
Companies like Apple have been investing in emotion tracking in a bid to gain more advertisers. If a company could accurately track how consumers feel about their advertisements or products it would open up a whole new world for marketers. Currently the most promising emotion tracking software examines video of a face to determine emotion. This requires users to be well lit and sitting in front of a camera. Now, Facebook may have found a way around this if it can lift emotional data from the new Reactions.
Emotion tracking would do more than give Facebook an edge over other advertising platforms. It would actually be able to better serve ads to consumers and use real time feedback. This all means Facebook could give its users what they want while improving their advertising and making more money.
The new Reactions could also be combined with current sentiment analysis technology. This is software which can examine the content of comments to look at the overall sentiment around a message. Current sentiment measuring algorythims can judge with relative accuracy if someone is angry, sad, happy or even being sarcastic. The problem is, the technology struggles to measure sentiment in individual comments and works best with big data. The addition of Reactions would give Facebook the ability to gain a deep understanding of how their customers feel about a product or message. It also means Facebook could be learning about you and your moods.
Someone who regularly uses Facebook is already being tracked. Facebook looks at what you like, what you interact with and who you’re friends with. If it had data about your mood, it could not only predict which advertisements to show you, but also decide when you would be in the most receptive mood to be advertised to. In effect, it could map out your moods, movements and preferences to provide a whole new level of advertisement targeting.
At this moment in time, Facebook has not said what it will do with any information it might be collecting from the new Reactions. One thing you can be sure of is that nothing an advertising platform like Facebook does is by accident. So the next time you are angrily commenting on Facebook, don’t be surprised if you see fewer ads. If you’re reading this from Facebook let us know what you thought with a Reaction.