Facebook Reactions: New Data Shows Most Users Still Just ‘Like’ Posts

As with anything new in the social universe, the most value Facebook Reactions will provide brands is the ability to further uncover the sentiment of your customers and prospects and shift your strategy accordingly.

Facebook Reactions are finally here. This means people can express emotions beyond simply ‘liking’ things that pass through their feed.

The uses of Facebook Reactions for stuff your friends share are straightforward. You see the latest post of your best friend’s new baby or a viral video of an unidentified sea creature washed ashore, you react accordingly, and everyone moves on.

But what does this all mean for brands? At Unmetric, we took a look under the hood, and here’s what we found

How fans are using Facebook Reactions on brand posts:

First, let’s start off with the reactions:


In addition to the regular Like, the new ones capture the core human emotions and include: Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry.

You can still only express one emotion per post  (i.e., you must decide if you like or love that Tasty video for chili mac and cheese—it can’t be both).

We looked at 10 of the top brand Facebook posts (based on Unmetric’s proprietary engagement score) from February 25 to March 5. They included posts from Nissan, Mini Babybel, Bertolli, Windex, LG Mobile, Giorgio Armani Beauty, Arby’s, Rebel’s Market, Little Things.com, and US Cellular.

Facebook’s API hasn’t made the Reactions numbers publicly accessible yet, so we manually went through each post to get the numbers. We discovered an interesting a glitch here.


In this post, though Nissan has over 92,000 likes and reactions, in the breakdown, Facebook only records 12,000 of the interactions. This happens for all posts that have over 10,000 interactions. For example, while the displayed total interaction numbers and break down interaction numbers don’t add up for Windex, LG Mobile and Arby’s, there’s no major glitch in the numbers for Mini Babybel.

Since the numbers for the Reactions seem detailed while only the likes seem to be rounded up, for the purpose of this article, we’ve assumed the missing numbers are likes that are not being counted.

With that assumption, here’s what we found.


The data shows that 93 percent of all interactions are still likes. Love is used 4.6%. While we assumed this was perhaps due to the order that Reactions are displayed, we were proven wrong when seeing that Wow is used more frequently than Haha.

Here are some theories behind why these numbers are what they are:

  • The extra microsecond effort it takes to hold and swipe to express an emotion could discourage some people from using them as opposed to the single click effortless like (which seems like a reasonable explanation to the number of likes being this high when compared to the usage of other Reactions).
  • It could also be because of that old habits die hard, and people are conditioned to ‘liking’ things as opposed to ‘reacting’.
  • There could also be cases where people accidentally ‘react’ when they were simply stalking and didn’t even mean to interact with the post (chubby finger caused engagement is real).

Or … is it likely that users simply need time to get more familiar with the Reactions? We dug deeper.

Using the same methodology as above, we picked 10 of the top most engaging posts in the period of March 6 – 15, 2016. The top posts were from Frost, Nissan, Hillshire Snacking, Rebel’s Market, Samsung Mobile USA, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Fresh Step Litter, Disney Cruise Line, IHOP, and Portillo’s.


While we expected the Reactions to have gained popularity and be used more, there was an increase in the number of likes while Reaction usage went down. Of course, this could have been due to the unevenness of the samples, but the numbers don’t lie.

What this means for your business:

Users may take their time to completely embrace the Reactions, but one thing is for sure, they’re here to stay. Facebook is yet to beef up the analytics around Reactions, but we know it won’t be too long before they become a standard metric for social media analysts and content creators. Here’s what the new avatar of Likes means for businesses:

  • You’ll get a better idea of how people interact with your posts. The new detail in feedback is great to tweak your brand content strategy.
  • For brands in the service industry, the ‘Anger Reaction’ is crucial. Don’t be afraid of it. Since Facebook is still treating a Reaction as a like, even if people express ‘Anger’ they’ll continue to receive your content in their newsfeed. So remember to take the negative reactions a lot more seriously and set up a customer service strategy to tackle any situation that might escalate.
  • Reactions data is currently only available on a post basis, so you’ll have to individually go into each one of your brand posts to get the breakdown of the Reactions, or use the Insights>Post page.
  • Contests are already one of the most widely used and popular social media posts. You can leverage the new reactions to encourage engagement and qualify winners.
  • With reactions, your paid social media strategy can become more refined. Based on your brand guidelines, you can detect posts that get the most desirable reactions and promote those.
  • Alternatively, you can also look at posts that are getting negative reactions and look to detect a PR crises in advance.
  • In the age of influencer-driven marketing, you can identify fans that give you ‘Love’ most often and engage them for amplification.

Brands are already acknowledging Reactions and have even started putting out campaigns completely themed around the new Facebook feature.

As with anything new in the social universe, the most value Facebook Reactions will provide brands is the ability to further uncover the sentiment of your customers and prospects and shift your strategy accordingly.

Ranjani Raghupathi is the associate marketing manager of Unmetric.

Featured image courtesy of Jakraphong Photography / Shutterstock.com.

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