FBDislike

What Facebook’s Dislike Button Could Mean for Brands

This morning I logged into Facebook and  saw that my friend’s baby woke her up at 3:00 a.m. for the day. Another friend came down with the flu and a coworker hurt her wrist in a car accident.
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I found myself torn.
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If I Liked these status updates, it felt like I was giving a nod of approval to the universe for mistreating my friends. On the other hand, the generally mild life complaints didn’t necessarily warrant the extra minute needed to leave a sympathetic note. Even worse, not interacting at all might show apathy.
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I DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO. I was at a crossroads of emotion at 8am, before my coffee could properly kick my brain into action.
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This has been the struggle of a Facebook user since the dawn of that little thumbs up.

Facebook’s Change of Heart

For years, Facebook shot down the idea of a Dislike button, despite rallying cries from users. They did not want to breed negativity on the social media super-channel, with Zuckerberg stating “That isn’t what we’re here to build in the world.”
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However, the Facebook team softened their stance, understanding that users saw a need for a quick, low-barrier way to convey sympathy and solidarity. Zuckerberg confirmed earlier in September that the Facebook team was working on a button, or series of buttons, that will allow users to display displeasure.

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Potentional Problems for Users

However, I worry if Zuckerberg’s good intentions will be overrun by those who would abuse the new function. If Facebook isn’t careful in their naming of the Dislike button or how they will control the feature, it may turn into an emotional bloodbath for Facebook’s 1.5 billion users.
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Even further, the Dislike button could invite higher numbers of cyber-bullying. As a mother of two myself, I would have strong reservations to allowing a teenager access to a platform that makes it easier than ever to perpetuate attacking, disdain, and heartbreak among tender teenage relationships.
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It leaves me wondering, could the Dislike button be the final straw for youth that are already leaving the platform or cause Facebook’s first decline in growth? If that incredibly important marketing demographic waves goodbye, brand social media marketing strategies may need to change.

What This Could Mean for Brands

As a Community Manager who helps build such strategies, my first thought when Zuckerberg confirmed the announcement was to run screaming away from my profession. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
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(Just kidding. I love a good challenge.)
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But I did have immediate reservations – how would this impact the perception of our communities, for new Fans to log onto our page and see a post that has equal or outnumbered Likes to Dislikes? A Dislike button offered Fans a way to show frustration with ads, aversion to product changes, and attack community dissenters.
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On the flip side, that ease of conveying frustration would offer a simple, effective way for brands to measure negative sentiment. For years, we’ve discussed the weight of Likes versus Comments when calculating sentiment, biting nails that we were comparing apples to oranges. A Dislike button offers comparable data to the traditional Like.
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It remains to be seen if or when this feature will roll out for brands, but I’ll be keeping a watchful eye for the impact it might make on my communities.
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Get ready. Dislike is coming.

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