Marketers won’t enjoy seeing Facebook likes disappear, both on their ads and on user content. That may happen, though, if a test occurring in Australia meets the social media giant’s expectations. But if likes disappear in the U.S., marketers may be sad — because emotion influences consumer buying decisions.
And marketers find Facebook post and ad reaction information useful, because Facebook has the most influence among social networks over purchases, according to recent research.
TheManifest.com released results of a survey in August:
“Consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand they follow on Facebook (52%) than Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Reddit combined (48%).”
What’s Happening With Facebook Likes
Facebook rolled out a test a couple of weeks ago in Australia to hide likes, reportedly to combat misuse of the platform. Efforts to make social media posts go viral brought about unwanted contact from bad actors, and minors were measuring their self-worth based on likes, according to CNet.com.
Facebook started testing its theory in September and finished expanding the test across Australia at the beginning of October. CNet.com reported:
Facebook began hiding likes on Friday, Sept. 27, making the number of reactions, views, and likes visible only to a post's author. The test kicked off in Australia, the social media giant confirmed last week, and includes ads.
"We are running a limited test where like, reaction, and video view counts are made private across Facebook," a Facebook spokesperson told CNET in an emailed statement on Sept. 26.
Facebook added that it would "gather feedback to understand whether this change will improve people's experiences."
CNet.com’s image supporting the article showed that reactions will still appear, just without a count.
And Facebook is encouraged by its sister product experiment in July, CNet.com writes, when “Instagram like counts were hidden in seven countries: Australia, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, and Japan.”
In a Sept. 26 article, the New York Times pointed out another way this test could impact marketers:
“Social media influencers have also racked up Likes — sometimes by purchasing them — and made money by promoting products to their followers.”
How Marketers Use Facebook Reactions
Facebook users could always like posts, but extra reactions in 2016 really helped marketers better gauge consumer sentiment:
- Super like
And seeing these reactions helped marketers who always knew these emotions motivated customers:
At the time the reactions debuted, the Independent reported that Belgian police urged citizens not to use the buttons. They said alerting advertisers to their moods allowed the marketers to place ads in the best locations in users’ feeds — such as when they’re happy, which is when they’re most receptive to ads.
Facebook confirmed that users who indicated they liked certain content would see more of that content.
As I said in a video about Facebook reactions:
“Marketing research shows consumers are more receptive to advertising when they’re happy.
“But it also shows that they’re more likely to buy online in the evening and when they’re out in public. Maybe they’re happier because they’re not at work?
“And yet there’s Cyber Monday …
“On top of that, there’s research showing that consumers are most likely to buy products advertised while they’re watching the news. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have this reaction to watching the news.”
(Then I make a sad, then angry face.)
If marketers want more information about acting on this, in October, Target Marketing blogger Rohan Ayyar provided four tips for marketers in “How to Use Sentiment Analysis to Transform Your Digital Marketing Strategy.”
Facebook Data Won’t Go Away
Facebook collects user data, explicitly, to improve user experience on the platform. But the company sees a large part of that experience as how users interact with ads and outside content, so it helps advertisers target users — based on data collected about user interests, and more.
In a transcript of leaked audio from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — published on Oct. 1 in The Verge — he says he believes in the business model.
“We’ve just been able to focus on the right things over the long-term, whether it was going through our IPO and focusing on building the right mobile products instead of just focusing on monetizing and putting ads in quickly. When our stock price got cut in half. We’ve had the ability to focus on doing what we think are the right things over a multiyear period, instead of just having to be beholden to the quarter-to-quarter demands that a lot of public companies have to struggle with.”
TheManifest.com notes that likes aren’t the method consumers use to express their emotions about brands:
“Consumers interact with brands on social media in a variety of ways such as liking brands’ posts (51%), leaving reviews (31%), mentioning a brand on their own profile (22%), direct messaging a brand (20%), and tweeting at a brand (18%).”
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.