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Facebook emoji may help when ‘like’ won’t do

 

NEW YORK – Feb. 25, 2016 – Here's something you might love: You don't have to just "like" Facebook posts anymore. By popular demand, Facebook is going beyond the thumbs-up button with a new shorthand to express thoughts and feelings.

Acknowledging that "like" isn't the right sentiment for every occasion, the giant social network is offering new options. Hold the "like" button on mobile or hover over the like button on desktop, and five animated emoji pop up. Tap on "love," "haha," "wow," "sad" or "angry" to express your reaction. Posts in News Feed will now show a tally of the reactions – how many "loves," how many "wows" – a post gets.

Engagement runs high on Facebook, and Facebook wants to keep it that way. Nearly 1.6 billion people visited the social network at least once a month in the fourth quarter, up from 1.55 billion people in the third quarter, and 1.04 billion visit Facebook every day. Facebook says it conducted research for more than a year, tapping focus groups and surveys and poring over short one- to three-word comments, emoji or in-virtual stickers to determine the emotions people most commonly want to express.

The winners were the five emoji that translated to cultures around the globe.

"We have been very intentional about really understanding what people are trying to communicate on Facebook right now and how can we make that easier," said Tom Alison, engineering director of News Feed.

For years, Facebook resisted giving users an alternative to the "like" button, namely a "dislike" button. Gartner Research analyst Brian Blau says the demand for a "dislike button" reflected frustration with not having more choices beyond like.

"What these emoji do is give greater granularity in expressing what you are thinking and feeling," Blau said.

Will Facebook eventually give users more emotional bandwidth?

"We would consider it if it feels like that's going to be something that fulfills a need," Alison said. "We've wanted to make sure the product is lightweight, simple and understandable. The more reactions we add, the more complicated it gets."

The Reactions emoji could benefit Facebook, giving the data-driven company even greater insight into what interests users, which in turn could help inform what status updates and advertisements they see.

Copyright © 2016, USATODAY.com, USA TODAY, Jessica Guynn  

Related Topics: Marketing