Home » Digital Marketing » Facebook Reactions: Emoji, Data and the Game of Mind

Last week, Facebook released reaction features including six integrated emojis: Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry and many users were eager to use this feature. The basic thing needed to know about this feature has been explained by many people, so I will not mention anymore. In this article I would like to analyze these reaction buttons in terms of Facebook’s algorithms and psychology. In addition, I also give some of my thoughts on how the reaction buttons will serve the social network and how us users will be affected.

These reaction buttons to us are just things to express quickly and conveniently our feelings to the what our friends and relatives share but everything always has two sides. With Facebook, this is an infinite source of data and a shortage of Facebook to help this social network take a deeper step in the intrusion (even the control) of our behavior.

*** All of what I write below in this article are personal views, not the official information from Facebook nor from the work of scientific research it should be only for reference.

Facebook reactions: all is data

Using emojis to interact with contents is not something new because before Facebook, there have been many social networks that did. And for a long time, many Facebook users have demanded the presence of buttons other than Like (the dislike button, for example), to better express their emotions. Facebook spent nearly a year testing and releasing this emotion emoji set. Too long for such a simple feature? Not at all, simply because these emoji are more complex than what you think.

Trước phiên bản reactions hiện nay, Facebook đã thử nghiệm nhiều kiểu emoji khác

Before the current reactions, Facebook has tested many other types of emoji. Source: facebook

In the past Facebook used Like a metric to evaluate the user’s interaction and excitement with a certain type of content but now with six methods to express, how will Facebook do it? And now even in Facebook’s analytics tools, there is no way for fanpage admins or advertisers to see these engagement stats. I think this analytics feature might be updated soon.

With reactions, Facebook breaks down user interaction into six common forms:

Like: an interactive button that has existed since the acient days of Facebook, and even when reactions are released, this is still the main and the default interaction button. Like can be understood in a positive as a consensual sense or simply as liking something.
Love: Love here can be understood, besides the sense of being sentimental, as a form of expressing “like” but at a higher level for the interacted content.

Haha: used to express the enjoyment of the user with a funny or hilarious content.

Wow: showing the surprise, usually positively, about the interacted content. It can also imply the admiration.

Sad: This emoji often expresses empathy, sympathy with a the shared content (which is often sad).

Angry: It can often be used to express sympathy (stronger than the like button) about a content that condemns or fights an issue, or the viewpoint of the person sharing it.

In a nutshell, with six different types of interaction, Facebook can begin to collect more data and make it easier for them to differentiate between contents that make users excited, make them feel attracted, feel happy or even sad and angry.


Source: facebook

In essence, the diversity of human interactions can not be limited to only these six types of interaction, and Facebook knows that. So why Facebook does not create more interactive emoji but only has six? I think that Facebook wants to keep the number of Facebook reactions in an enough amount, not too many, with two purposes:

  1. Keeping the user from tangling in the selection of emotions to express. Expressions of emotion should be simple and quick to stimulate them to express more. Also, if users have other moods which do not fit one of the six types of emoji, they can always express it under the comment section.
  2. Easily organizing the data that Facebook collects. Too many types of reactions will create different types of data and sometimes this can make the data less useful when it is imported to the machine learning system.

What does Facebook do with these types of data? Definitely more than what you think.

Understand the emotion and the personality of the user

Facebook in 2014 conducted a test (secretly which then was published) on the newsfeed to see how the contents they gave users daily affected their psychology. This test found that if users frequently saw positive contents from friends, they would  post more content than people who often saw negative contents. So if you ever feel like you have a dark life after using Facebook, then maybe you are being used as a an experimental mouse by this social network. And when this experiment was discovered, people in the western countries crazily stormed about it and made Facebook change the way it conduct such studies in the future.


Source: gettyimage

Anyway, the results of the 2014 study could be said to be the premise for what Facebook can apply the data collected from the upcoming reactions. And we can all understand that this time we are all about to become a test mouse for Facebook under the cover of an upgrade called Facebook reactions.

With the interactive emoji types mentioned above, Facebook can now even guess the personality of Facebook users who regularly use them. The use of some emojis based on a certain pattern can raise some characteristics of a person’s personality? I think it is possible.

Let’s say if someone stares at you for three hours a day and you do not know you’re being watched (if you know you may have behaved differently). He or she notes how you react to any events you experience from day to day. Well, he or she will also has access to all the messages you send to friends, places you have traveled, what you did with your friends, your parents, your spouse, your child, who is your lover/secret lover, where you studied, where you work, etc …

I dare to say that that person will be able to understand your personality. Not exactly 100% but 70% – 80% is possible. That sounds scary. Now let’s look this way:

Someone here is the Facebook

Three hours a day is the average time you go to Facebook. Or even more.

Events: The contents on the newsfeed and how you interact with these events with Facebook reactions.

Message to friends: Messenger (see more for the perfect ecosystem of Facebook)

Places you visitied: check-in

What you do with your friends: photo tag, check-in

Relationship: relationship, or who you chat with

Place of work, place of residence: information updated on Facebook


Source: Gettyimage

Along with the reaction elements, Facebook can also combine comments and what you talk about that content to realize your true intentions. For example, when you use the Haha emoji, you often comment on that content with some “happy”, “funny”, “hilarious”, etc.

So if you tend to use the Love emoji when checking in at the restaurant, are you a person who likes to eat? Or if you use the Wow emoji every time you take pictures of beautiful scenery, do you like travelling?

If you usuaally use the Love on the post of the opposite sex, are you the type who likes to gain attention from the opposite sex? If you are a regular user of the Haha emoji with different content, are you a humorous person? If you are the type who likes to use the Sad emoji for the content then are you the type who is easy to feel empathize or emotional? If you have a higher frequency of using the angry emoji than other people, are you a high-tempered person?

Combining Facebook reactions with the above elements, with the appropriate context, Facebook is likely to identify your personality quite accurately. I bet this social network has a whole team of psychological researchers who daily try to figure out puzzled data collected from reactions to classify the user personality.

Understanding the relationship between users

As stated above Facebook know your relationship on Facebook not only with the information you update but also in other ways that you may not know. That you like look at a profile or image of someone (the girl you like, for example) every day get Facebook to know your preference. Or that you chat with someone often and a lot recently, or even the language you use in chatting, which for example often has words like “love”, “like”, and so on will let Facebook know a few things about the fact of your relationship with those around you.


Source: gettyimage

If you often use the Love emoji to like someone’s photo and often talk to that person at the same time, can it show that you have a new, more intimate relationship with that person? Do you often use the Wow emoji for a person’s post? Do you feel that he/she is an interesting person and you often get impressed by what they shares?

With Facebook reactions, this social network site will have more explicit signals to better evaluate the relationship between users.

Impact on Facebook users

With such information, how can Facebook affect you? Very much. Here are some of the things that this social network will, or actully have been doing:

Based on how you interact with the contents with your reactions, as well as your personality and relationships, Facebook will deliver personalized content to each individual and that’s what you want to see the most. Even Facebook can allow you to choose which content suits your mood right now.

For example, if you are feeling sad and want your newsfeed brighter, you can choose to display contents that are interactive with many Haha emojis. If you are feeling bored, you can choose to have the newsfeed show contents that have a lot of Wow or Angry (controversial topic) to entertain yourself.


Source: gettyimage

Facebook can even make you feel more addicted and want to spend more time on this social network by adjusting the content on the newsfeed to affect your psychology. By mixing content (fun enough, interesting enough, controversial enough – based on the reactions), Facebook can create a variety of psychological changes, making you feel like getting back to use Facebook or using longer.

Applying these factors on advertising

Now, if Facebook could reach a user by using such data collected from emoji, how could this social network apply the date to advertising?


Source: gettyimage

1. The advertiser may have a setting related to the psychological state of the customer. A movie theater can target users who are in a bad mood with a comedy movie.

2. Advertisers can adjust so that their ads only appear among the posts which are considered funny and interesting (with many Haha or Wow emojis) and not closed to the posts which have  negative mood (Sad, Angry).

3. Advertisers can now understand how users interact with their ads (6 emojis instead of just one) and thus optimize and adjust better.

4. Advertisers may even have a setting related to the personality of the customer. You can run ads targeted to people who are hot-tempered (using many Angry emoji) or emotional (using many Sad emojis) depending on the product.

5. Advertisers can reach out and target people who their current customers are in a relationship or have a certain feeling with. For example, you could  build a group of customers who are male and have interest in the opposite gender (in the time of courtship) for items such as gifts.

In addition, in the future, this social network site can extend these interactions to other platforms that it has such as Instagram, Messenger, and maybe Whatsapp to therefore collect more data.

Facebook may gradually understand us better than anyone else, and if this social network can affect both the psychology and the behavior of users with the algorithms and data they are collecting, then it really is a scary thing. But that also makes Facebook one of the greatest inventions of human beings, let’s wait and see.

What do you think about this? Leave a comment.

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Hien are is Director of Marketing Store Vietnam Ringier AG. Digital Marketing and passionate about sharing knowledge as expected những scraped past tense as multiple users of coal, I was quyết create conversion.vn blog. If need to contact me, please email as through tu.bui@conversion.vn

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