Facebook is by and large a friendly place for brands.

Yes, consumers can and do voice their displeasure on the world's largest social network, but when it comes to what can be done with the click of a mouse, consumers are limited to ubiquitous Like. But that all could be changing. 

In a Q&A session last week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed that his company is working on a way for Facebook users to express different emotions.

People have asked about the 'dislike' button for many years. Probably hundreds of people have asked about this, and today is a special day because today is the day that I actually get to say we are working on it, and are very close to shipping a test of it.

Zuckerberg didn't reveal much more than that. He did indicate that the intent of this new button would not be to facilitate "down vote[s]." Instead Facebook would be providing a way to avoid liking a piece of content when it might be seen as insensitive. For example, liking a Facebook post about someone's passing is considered by many to be an awkward act.

A Dislike button could change Facebook

A Facebook in which users can do more than Like content could create a very different environment for brands using the social network.

After all, even if Facebook intends for its yet-to-be-named Like alternative to be used as a mechanism for disliking content, the addition of a new way for users to express their emotions about content will likely require brands to rethink some of the ways in which they interact with Facebook users and how they evaluate their efforts on Facebook.

Content creation

A dislike button of some kind could complicate content marketing campaigns on Facebook, as brands would need to consider the possibility that users on the social network who don't like their content could use the new button to express their feelings.

Right now, users can do this by posting a comment, but that takes effort and there's no visible figure on Facebook that displays the number of comments deemed to be negative.

Metrics

Beyond the possibility that the new button will come to be used as a down voting mechanism in practice – a true Dislike button whatever it's called – brands might need to adjust how they measure the conversations around their content.

Instead of counting Likes, brands would need to count non-Likes and establish methods for evaluating the efficacy of their Facebook marketing campaigns in light of this new figure.

For instance, brands might face the possibility of seeking to understand a piece of content that generates a large number of Likes and non-Likes.

A moot issue?

It's likely that Facebook is aware of the potential issues associated with a Like alternative and it's entirely possible it will keep this from complicating matters for brands.

For example, it could decide to keep the Like alternative away from brand Pages. Or it could allow brands to decide whether or not the content they post would have anything other than a Like button.

Whatever happens, Mark Zuckerberg's announcement that Facebook is looking to move beyond the Like is yet another reminder that even the largest social platforms are still subject to change significantly as they evolve.

If you want to learn more about social from some of the most successful brands on the planet, get a ticket for the Festival of Marketing 2015 and check out the Social stage. 

Patricio Robles

Published 21 September, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (6)

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Samuel Doucette, Social Media Manager at Déco Surfaces

Definitely highly likely that Facebook will find ways to avoid all those issues (i.e. by making it an optional feature that the page manager activates if needed).

over 2 years ago

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Shelley Horwitz, King at xyz company

The simplest things for brands to do would be to LEAVE FACEBOOK!!!

Would the dislike button be for people too?

Does Facebook differentiate between people and companies?

over 2 years ago

Jonathan Phillips

Jonathan Phillips, Managing Director at babyREFLUX (Group FMI)

All you have to do is look at YouTube, Amazon Forums, Daily Mail where there is the opportunity to 'vote down' and you will see what carnage it provides. Would be commercial suicide for Facebook to introduce this without a great deal of thought...

over 2 years ago

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Jack Adams, SEO at RetailMeNot Ltd

The likely implementation that I can see is that publishers are given the option of like OR dislike, as opposed to users having the option of either. That avoids all the problems mentioned above and leaves it at the poster's discretion as to whether their subject is one to be "liked" or "disliked".

over 2 years ago

Peter Leatherland

Peter Leatherland, Online Sales Manager at Ethical Superstore

I wouldn’t see Facebook just adding a Dislike button equivalent to a Like button. Perhaps when the network started out it could have made sense but now with the revenues it makes form advertising it would be disastrous for them, at least in terms of the money they make, I suspect users might actually quite like it. For small brands it would be OK as there is generally less distain towards them but pretty much every big brand will have a lot of people who dislike it and the dislikes will mount up. Imagine a company like Tesco posting anything after the horsemeat scandal. Politicians and political parties would suffer even more.

I just can’t see the benefit for a company paying to advertise them below their advert having 20,000 dislikes displayed and 157 likes

over 2 years ago

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Jack Adams, SEO at RetailMeNot Ltd

The likely implementation that I can see is that publishers are given the option of like OR dislike, as opposed to users having the option of either. That avoids all the problems mentioned above and leaves it at the poster's discretion as to whether their subject is one to be "liked" or "disliked".

over 2 years ago

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