Content Marketing Bulletin, March 8

Why we're sad about Facebook Reactions.


by Peter Coish

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In the run-up to F8, Facebook’s annual developer shindig next month, there’s lots of news about the social network that content marketers need to know.

First, the really big news:  Facebook announced in a blog post yesterday that WordPress owner Automattic has released a plugin for the widely used content management system which simplifies the process of generating and publishing Facebook Instant Articles from WordPress.  In other words, publishing an Instant Article will be as easy as publishing a post on your WordPress site. And because the Instant Article is not a webpage but a feed, search engines won’t treat it as duplicate content and penalize your site in their rankings.

Why is this big news?  A few weeks ago, Facebook announced that Instant Articles will be open to all publishers—of any size, anywhere in the world—by April 12, 2016.  Content marketers everywhere need to start thinking about how this feature will impact their content distribution strategy.

Next, Facebook clearly has big plans for Messenger  that will have an impact on content distribution.  To wit, at F8 Facebook plans to announce a way for news publishers to automatically send users content through Messenger, according to this article. No word on whether the Messenger product will push the user to external links, or to Instant Articles, or both.

Finally, let’s talk about our reaction to Facebook Reactions.

Two weeks ago Facebook launched this new feature, making their biggest, and perhaps riskiest, change ever. In case you missed it, Facebook embellished the Like button with the addition of six emojis. Now, Facebook users can express a range of “emotions” about your post –  like, love, laugh, wow, sad, or angry, in addition to just the old timey “Like”.  Think of the reactions as a subset of the Like button.  As is often the case with Facebook, they’ve executed brilliantly.

But here’s why we’re using the “sad” emoji when we speak to our clients about Reactions.

As marketers, there’s not much we can do with these reactions, at least for now.  For one thing, it’s not possible to target people who have reacted to one of your posts with Facebook ads. This is disappointing as the ability to do so would mean the possibility of reaching your brand evangelists with customized messages.

Worse, the ability to analyze reactions to a post is, well, virtually nonexistent.  True, Page admins can look at the reactions to an individual post by clicking on it,  but you can only do that on a post-by-post basis.  If your Page is very active, this will be a tedious and time-consuming process. There is no option to download data on a bulk, post-level basis. And there’s no access to the reactions data in the Facebook API. That kind of functionality would make it possible to compare posts by reactions, and to determine what kind of Facebook content generates the kind of engagement you want.

Let’s hope Facebook announces upgrades to Insights at F8 so content marketers can actually use this data.