Good news for Facebook, bad news for the world

So much negativity.
So much negativity.
Image: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Facebookā€™sĀ emoji reactions, whichĀ initially failed to impressĀ after itsĀ February release, areĀ starting to gain in popularity.

Throughout May and June this year, social-media analytics firm Quintly analyzed 105,000 Facebook pages and tracked the use of emoji reactions. The original ā€œlikeā€ button is still the predominant form of expression, comprising 92% of emoji reactions, but itā€™s seeingĀ a gradualĀ decline, about 1% over the two month-period, according to theĀ research.Ā Overall, the number of reactionsĀ went up byĀ 22.4% from May to June.Ā Each individual reaction jumped up by at least 16% in the two months.

A closer look at Facebookā€™s success with emoji reactions provides a lens into a more grim reality: The fastest-growing reaction was the sad (šŸ˜¢)Ā emoji, which reported a 48% uptick in use. The gloomĀ was likely in response to the bad news, such as the Orlando mass shootingĀ and the Istanbul airport attackĀ killing 42,Ā that took place duringĀ the course of the study.

These events illustrate the very motivation behind emoji reactions. Because people donā€™t necessarily want to ā€œlikeā€ stories about tragic news events, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerbreg said he wanted to give users better tools to express themselves. HeĀ later revealed to investors that he was also worried users would stop sharing contentĀ if they felt uncomfortable liking a status or story.

The reactions are also helping people express positivity.Ā The study found thatĀ the ā€œloveā€ (ā¤ļø)Ā and ā€œhahaā€ (šŸ˜†)Ā emoji are used more thanĀ 70% of the time,Ā which shows that positive content stirs more emotions.

Itā€™s possible brands and businesses could in the future tap into theseĀ emotional responses, which sit somewhere between a quick like and more thoughtful comments. Posting content that triggers users to feel a range of emotionā€”happiness, sadness, anger, surpriseā€”could give companiesĀ better insights into howĀ their content is perceived by the public.