Will Facebook users ‘Dislike’ my brand?

Will Facebook users ‘Dislike’ my brand?

Jon's BlogMark Zuckerberg this week announced the roll out of a ‘Dislike’ button to complement the ’Like’ button on Facebook which is pressed billions of times a day! In Mark’s view it is there for those users who wish to empathise with the sort of sad or compassionate post for which a ‘like’ might be inappropriate. But what will it mean for the thousands of brands using Facebook?

Perhaps the first thing to stress is that this genuinely is not a dislike button, and the media’s presentation of it as such this week has been scaremongering and misleading in equal measure. The purpose of this button is to express empathy, not to announce disapproval.

Semantics notwithstanding, are brands right to be nervous? Is this going to become a way for posts to be seen as being voted up or down? Well, Mark says no to the second of these two questions: the proportion of positive to negative reactions will not affect a post’s delivery into the time line of a brand’s followers. The first question is a far harder one to answer. We’d all like to think that this new function will be used responsibly by users, (but when does that happen!) and it’s human nature to show distrust or anger, or to moan and complain far more online than we show elation and joy or promote wellbeing. A recent survey revealed that negative comments are seven times more common than positive comments: when we’re online we may well be happy, but we don’t readily show it, particularly we reserved Brits.

So what to make of the ‘Dislike’ thumb down button? Part of me wants to advise you that you shouldn’t worry at all, that a well-balanced user will not be swayed by these quick shows of emotions, but the fact is that you the marketer will be worried as you see what is perceived to be negative sentiment sitting there on your content and posts.

How do we deal with this: should we take the higher ground view, should we even care?

One long-term outcome will be an improvement of the quality of brands’ social content. Although you can hide negative user comments, you won’t be able to hide the ‘Dislikes’, so to an extent they will have to be accepted as part of the price of doing business in the social space. There will also be a honeymoon period after the new function is first released, and no doubt a lot of hype and negative publicity in the trade media, but a certain amount of hyperbole as users go ‘click happy’, or in this case ‘Dislike happy’ is surely to be expected.

Social media are a myriad of things to a huge cross section of people. You can never please everyone all the time and sometimes perhaps the wisest tactic is to create content where you call for ‘Dislikes’. This will help you to normalise the button for your followers. Remember they are disliking a piece of content visually or expressing empathy, but they are not necessarily building up an accumulation of dislikes to be weighed alongside your Facebook page’s tally of Likes. So take on the thumbs up and thumbs down opportunities and don’t run for the hills or pull your hair out. You are not alone, everyone everyday will experience it. And lastly if it’s an accusation of poor customer service, or a bad product then listen, see what can be done in a timely fashion, and engage either publicly or in private, but don’t do nothing. Listen and act on sentiment and your customers and fans will embrace you and be your ambassadors.

Some quick tips:

1/ Choose a topic that will encourage people to dislike something; a good method is to find something universally disliked in your field or in the news and ask for responses

2/ Vote – use it as a quick voting mechanism, perhaps even to ask survey questions

3/ Change their purpose… ask boys to Dislike and girls to Like, or any similar type of thing vs thing scenario

All these ideas make users on your Facebook page start to see the Thumbs Down image as less of a negative response and understand that your business is not scared of it. You might even get some great PR out of it too!

If you have any questions please do contact our great social team here at digital@spaceandtime.co.uk we’ve looked after 3,000 Facebook campaigns alone so far this year and have bags of experience across this and Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Seene and more.

Jon Clarke, Director of Innovation

Space & Time Media


Space and Time Media – smarter media solutions for a connected world.


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