The public has spoken, and social media giant Facebook listened…sort of. Serious social media users and comedians alike have long quipped about the need for a different set of reaction points on their fellow users’ posts. After all, clicking “Like” when someone announces they’re going through a hard time because their father just succumbed to cancer after a ten-year battle feels wrong in every way. But with Like as the only option, users had no choice but to click it. It was used to simply acknowledge the message and share a kind of virtual “I’m here with you” type of response.
So when Facebook announced a full complement of emoticon-based “reactions” that users could choose from, the possible responses changed from merely “like” to a range of emotional options. With everything from a heart symbol for love to a crying sad face to a boiling mad red-faced emoji, users now have other choices to fall back on.
But they aren’t doing it.
A study by online firm quintly looked at Facebook posts over a month-long period, examining more than 100,000 posts to see how users were interacting now that they had choices. Surprisingly, 97% of the single-click responses were still made via the Like button. According to their findings, “The study found makeup of the interactions on Facebook follows: 76.4% were ‘Likes,’ 14% were ‘shares,’ 7.2% were ‘comments,’ and the last 2.4% was ‘other.’” For the new Reactions options, when Like wasn’t used, Love was the top favorite.
Why aren’t people taking to this new method of response? There are a variety of possibilities, but as with a lot of tech upgrades out there, why should we switch if the “improvement” wasn’t really an improvement? Users were quite vocal at the launch of Reactions in voicing their disappointment, essentially saying, “This isn’t what we asked for.” More users have suggested a “thumbs up, thumbs down” approach that a lot of other platforms currently use. Still other users had trouble getting the Reactions to appear on their smartphones since they couldn’t hover over the Like button to call them up, and therefore may have just continued with the habit they already knew.