Facebook is set to change its ‘Like’ feature, by adding five new emoji options in a system dubbed ‘Reactions’.
Mark Zukerberg, the social network’s founder and chief executive, revealed the plans during a conference call with analysts. The news came after the release of Facebook's latest financial results, which topped even the most optimistic estimates.
But the changes to perhaps the website’s most fundamental feature are sure to be a cause for great discussion. Users have long been requesting a way of expressing more varied opinions on posts, since, as Zuckerberg puts it: “When you only have a Like button, if you share a sad piece of content or something that makes you angry, people may not have the tool to react to it."
The new buttons - five emoji-style faces for "love", "haha", "wow", "sad" and "angry" - are to be rolled out to the site's 1.5 billion users "pretty soon," he added.
Testing took place in various places including Spain and Ireland, but beta testers rejected a sixth button with a smiling face with rosy cheeks. Called "yay", the response was apparently more “eh?”
However, it will be marketing analysts who will be shouting “yay” with the new range of emotions allowing marketing companies to more easily work out just now popular campaigns are, rather than relying on a simple ‘Like’.
Mark Middlemas of online advertising firm RadiumOne said the move brought Facebook into line with the marketing strategies of the world’s biggest brands.
"Emojis are the world's fastest-growing digital language, brands including McDonald's, Ikea and Domino's are increasingly using them, particularly to target millennials. In the cluttered digital age, and as we become more lazy, they're a perfect vehicle to share an opinion in one character so users will like them.”
However, this "little bit of complexity" may cause one problem for Facebook - its trademark thumb-up ‘Like’ icon has become as ubiquitous as its ‘F’ logo. But with Facebook’s continued success, we’re unlikely to see a Zuckerberg ‘sad face’ any time soon.