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What do Facebook’s new emojis mean for business?

Approx. reading time: 2 minutes

facebook new emojisThose of us who use Facebook for business may soon find our target audiences have six new ways of interacting with us online – and not all of them good.

We’re familiar with the concept of liking a post or a page by giving it the big thumbs up. But now Facebook is testing a series of emojis that will enable users to react more broadly to content. And if the experiment in Spain and Ireland goes well they could well be rolled out to users everywhere soon.

There are seven emojis in total. The first is a reworked and animated version of the ubiquitous thumbs up like. The others are love, haha, yay, wow, sad and angry. Noticeable for its absence is an eighth thumbs down dislike emoji which Facebook apparently resisted despite widespread calls for it because of concerns over cyber bullying (and because it might dampen the overwhelming sense of optimism and well being they at least like to think the network promotes).

So what will the emojis mean for social media managers? I’d say the biggest area for potential concern is around the sad and, in particular, the angry face. Good quality content will still garner likes. The very best content will perhaps get loves. The funniest a haha. And the most profound a wow. We might even, if we’ve got exciting news to share, get a yay. But what if we’ve failed in someway and the person or people we’ve let down express their sorrow for all to see with a sad face or their anger with a red face? Then we better react fast, first to acknowledge their upset and then to engage them in conversation (possibly offline and away from prying eyes) to resolve the situation. Handled well it might be possible to get a blue thumbs up for our customer service despite a failure elsewhere in our organisation – a kind of emotional red shift.

Imagine that the new emojis had already been rolled out globally when the VW emissions scandal broke. Irate motorists would have posted angry red faces to Facebook in their thousands. But there’s no doubting VW’s sure-footed handling of the situation and for that one might give them the blue thumbs up.

So take a leaf out of the German motor manufacturers crisis communications handbook and think about how your customers might use the new emojis and how you’d handle a load of red faces. Better not to have them in the first place, of course. But all organisations err in some way or other at some time or other. None of us is perfect after all. And the measure of the very best organisations is how they react in adversity.