As we noted back in January, the Facebook development team was experimenting with new variations on its “like” button, following the latter feature’s more than six-year success and exponential popularity. Now the social media giant has unveiled “Reactions,” a series of emoji to expand the options for responding to posts and statuses on the site. CEO Mark Zuckerberg developed the choices to reduce the awkwardness of “liking” a sad or uncomfortable status or post. “Reactions,” which allows all users, commercial and individual alike, to express themselves with additional emoji “Love,” “Haha,” “Wow,” “Sad,” and “Angry,” was introduced as a means to convey empathy for friends and family, but will also be used to show irritation or discontent with brands and businesses with an online presence.

Social media has a huge impact on business success, evolving into a new – and virtually permanent – word of mouth. In the age of online reviews, where any imperfect interaction can result in very loud discontent, businesses need to be very aware of what their consumers are thinking and feeling – particularly with regard to their product. Reactions enables consumers to show their emotions, including whether something upsets them. Though potentially dangerous for business, this feedback option will allow companies to respond to consumer complaints in real time, ultimately upping their public status and their sales.

The problem with catch-all negative options “Sad” or “Angry” is that it will be difficult for companies to parse why their consumers are unhappy. Luckily, Facebook’s comments option is increasingly popular and can be utilized to voice complaints or concerns. With the combination of a Sad, Angry, or Wow emoji and an explanatory comment, businesses know what is working and what to re-evaluate.

This direct consumer-to-brand communication is key to consumer happiness, as long as businesses are responsive and follow through on the feedback they receive. Seventy-two percent of people who complain on social media platforms expect a response within one hour, according to a study by Lithium Technologies. If companies aren’t regularly monitoring their social media, this could be colossally damaging to their public reputation. But it works both ways; according to a study from the London School of Economics and the Listening Company, a seven-point increase in word-of-mouth advocacy can increase revenue by one percent.

When a business understands its customers’ wants and needs, it prospers. Studies show emotion is the number one factor in customer loyalty, which explains why sentimental commercials generally do better than commercials that don’t elicit emotion. Businesses that understand and reflect empathy are more competitive and more successful. If you are able to respond quickly and adapt accordingly, having negative emotive options on a social media giant like Facebook will have a more positive than harmful effect on your business.

The Public Relations and Marketing Group, LLC (PRMG) is a full-service public relations, marketing and digital advertising agency. The company is dedicated to helping businesses, professionals, non-profit organizations, government entities, attorneys and law firms leverage their time, talents and resources by using effective public relations and marketing techniques. For more marketing advice, please contact us at (631) 207-1057 or at



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