What a Dislike button on Facebook could mean for brands

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.