Are Facebook’s emoticons good for business?

February 26, 2016

They’re here! Facebook’s emoticons have arrived everywhere.

A few months ago, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, announced his company would be rolling out Facebook’s emoticons. Guess what? They’re here.

Facebook has talked about a “Dislike” button for quite awhile because users have been begging for something other than the familiar “Like” button. Knowing how to respond to deaths, loss of jobs or other tragedies was difficult. Some people were afraid Facebook’s new feature might look like an actual thumbs down similar to when Romans decided if someone lived or died. That’s a frightening thought for any business. But, have no fear, Facebook’s emoticons are here!

In addition to the “Like” button, Facebook has now added “Love,” “HaHa,” “Wow,” “Sad,” and “Angry.” “Yay” was nixed. Facebook refers to them as “Reactions.” Facebook’s emoticons (also known as emojis) are designed to give the user a more empathetic option when responding to posts. The flip side is it opens shops up to even bigger criticism and angry feedback. That is precisely why Zuckerberg waited so long to release Reactions. He wanted Facebook to remain as positive as possible.

So, are Facebook’s emoticons good or bad for business?

The goal for stores using Facebook has always been to create a connection with shoppers. You can post new merchandise, plug a local event or share personal information that builds relationship with your customers. For the record, you don’t have the option to turn off Facebook’s emoticons. Like it or not, they’re here to stay for everyone. So, does that change the way you use Facebook? As a shop owner, you definitely need to decide how you will respond. In my opinion, the best strategy is to have a strategy.

Many shop owners say ignoring a negative comment is the only response they give. I have always believed negative comments about a business need to be responded to as quickly as possible. Not only does a response say I’m listening, but publicly trying to make amends is good for building brand confidence. Believe it or not, statistics show that a business that has positively responded to negative comments ranks higher in a customer’s mind than a business with no negative comments. The business looks real and approachable.

Facebook's emoticons

Bigger reactions could mean bigger trouble

Mobile users will have an easier time expressing good and bad feelings about a store’s posts. Let’s face it, it will just be easier to click the little “Wow” emoticon when responding to the latest uploading of new merchandise photos. However, it will also be just as easy to click the “Sad” or “Angry” button if a customer is unhappy with what you’re listing. Dan Berthiaume in a Chain Store Age article wrote, “In general, consumers who may not bother writing a negative comment may be encouraged to simply click “sad’ or “angry,” and “haha” could also be negative depending on context.” Reactions definitely make voicing your opinion much easier.

However, reactions will also be a great way to gain deeper insight into how your customers truly feel about your shop and your merchandise. They will help build even stronger brand ambassadors as customers feel they have a better ability to communicate with you.  If you’ve received several Sad or Angry emoticons for a particular post, it may indicate a change in merchandise, policy or an employee is necessary. If you receive Wow or Love, you’ll know you’re definitely on the right track.

Only time will tell how effective Facebook’s emoticons are for shop owners. How you choose to respond could either add a “Wow” factor or just a little more “Angry.” Make a response plan and stick to it.

Deb McGonagle

I have been a writer for various forms of marketing for over 40 years. I've written my share of radio and TV scripts, magazine and newspaper ads as well as direct mail brochures and newsletters. Currently, as the Marketing Director for Traxia, home of SimpleConsign software, I've moved into blog posts, eBooks and website text. It's been an ever changing and ever challenging journey but I've loved it all along the way.