How “Dislike” button data could change Facebook marketing forever

VentureBeat just published a nice summary of the what the new Facebook dislike button really is. Facebook’s own words: here. Most notable: it’s called “Reactions”, and it’s not a dislike button, but a set of native emojis. That’s well good for people on Facebook, but for advertisers life might never be the same again.

We talk a lot about how Facebook’s elaborate targeting options are perhaps their biggest strength for advertisers. Facebook knows a lot about us. Info they draw from our behavior online, what Facebook pages we like, what stories we share, and much more, plays into what ads we get and content we see.

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The exciting part for marketers is that Facebook can now understand our feelings about different topics. In geek speak that’s sentiment analysis. At least it’s on the road to sentiment analysis. which is a challenge developers everywhere struggle to get right. With emoticons next to posts, comments and videos, Facebook will know if we’re happy or sad or angry about the content.

Note: the following three points aren’t necessarily Facebook’s plans for this, merely my thoughts on how it can be useful:

As an advertiser you can get a better idea of whether or not your content does what it’s supposed to do. A bad post today gets 2 likes, and you wonder why it didn’t engage more people. A bad post tomorrow can get 2 likes, 5 angry faces, and 1 tearful (sad) face. If angering people wasn’t your plan, then this is clearly relevant feedback. And you should reconsider what you’re doing. PS. Fanbooster already has automated settings for your ads, which automatically disable underperforming or spammy ads. And we have a notifications system for negative feedback. Can you imagine a cruise control based on Reactions? If “yes”, and “that sounds awesome” you can click here.

Facebook could serve content based on the emotional state of the receiver. If someone’s having a terrible day (they’re posting sad-face emoticons all over the place), then maybe the ad for the next big horror movie isn’t the right thing that day.

Humor. This is a big thing in data analysis. If you know anyone who’s succeeded in getting computer based analysis of people’s sense of humor right, then please tell me. With the new Reactions, Facebook and the world can see that clips from the Simpsons’ make me smile (perhaps the like, love or smile emoticons), while clips from South Park make me roll on the floor in cramps (perhaps the love or the Haha emoticons). Those are cues to determining my sense of humor, which could be useful to later ads serving.

To the average user, Facebook will probably become a place where emotions will be expressed more clearly, and with more nuance than before.

To advertisers, the potential is endless.