Emoticons, Fundraising and You: Facebook's 'Like' Options More Than Cute Upgrade
Introduced in 2009, the "Like" button has been one of the most recognizable aspects of life on Facebook. After reading a post, I could like, comment or share. Now, with the "Reactions" Facebook introduced earlier this year, I have a choice of six emoticons: Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry.
As with most tech changes at Facebook, the social media site didn’t do this on a whim. It has been studying user-behavior across the globe and monitoring how people react when they’re on their desktop devices and mobile devices.
What does this have to do with fundraising? Let’s look at the reasons behind the change, and I think you’ll see the implications for your work.
First, this is Facebook’s response to user requests asking for more options. Not every post or story was like-able. Combine that with the explosion of emoji all around us, and Facebook’s move makes sense. (Don’t tell me you’ve never used one in an email or text message!) Facebook studied which sentiments were expressed in comments.
It tested 'stickers.' It hired some of the same social scientists who helped Disney develop the 2015 movie "Inside Out" to decide which five emotions would bubble to the top. Then there’s the mobile thing.
Yes, we’re talking mobile again, and we will continue to until our mobile fundraising surpasses our desktop fundraising, at which point it will become the normal course of online fundraising. In December 2015, 1.44 billion people accessed Facebook on mobile. For many of those users, leaving a comment using the keypad interface of a smartphone is just too much to ask. They needed a quick, gesture-based way to express their thoughts and feelings while walking to catch the bus.
A quick thought-experiment: What would an emoji-based version of your donation page look like? It may be too far out there today, but that’s where we’re headed, folks.
Facebook’s new system allows the company to measure more precisely what’s working and not working for its audience. If it can curate your News Feed better, you’re more likely to spend a few extra seconds there. And time is literally money for Facebook. Every ad that enters your screen gets counted. Every time you let a video play on your screen for three seconds, it’s counted as a "video view."
How can we use this new Facebook upgrade to improve our storytelling, and ultimately our fundraising? Isn’t this where we want to go?
Let’s assume for a moment that Facebook is becoming the world’s best mobile engagement platform. It’s hard to see it any other way. Sure, we could try to embed emoticon-reaction buttons in our email newsletters and on our websites, but we still wouldn’t have the ease-of-use, based on global data, that Facebook has achieved.
What if we use Facebook as a playground for our mobile-engagement ideas? We can stick with organic-only activities, which don’t require any cash—just time. Let’s tell our stories in photos, video and text, and measure how the audience reacts. As a next step, we can venture forward into the realm of paid-Facebook. Even if we spend only a few dollars a week, we’ll learn how to use the same tools that our most sophisticated corporate marketers are using.
Whatever you decide to do with your mobile audience, the key is to do something—and to keep testing. No one has it "right" yet. But there are leaders, like Facebook, to whom we can look for inspiration.