Facebook Continues to Innovate with new Features

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By Vlad Vidaeff

Mark Zuckerberg and the creative team in Menlo Park sure have been busy as of late.  Facebook has been steadily rolling out waves upon waves of new features.  Better yet: there are exciting new features on the way in the near future as well!

Many of the recent new features have been all about customization.  While some are minor, there are a few which stick out.  One is the option of replacing your profile picture with a short, looping video.  This gives you the opportunity to add some style and flair to the area of your profile which users look at first upon visiting your page.  Another cool feature is temporary profile pictures.  These pictures are sure to appeal to all the sports fanatics!  A couple months ago, when the Supreme Court decided that gay marriage was legal, Facebook added a feature that allowed users to show their support for the decision.  Building upon the popularity of that feature, users are now able to add temporary photos that show their support for their favorite college or professional sports teams.  With the Houston Rockets’ season starting this evening, feel free to show your support for your hometown team!  For a list of other features recently added, click here.

In another interesting addition, you now have the ability to post GIFs on Facebook.  Animation takeover!  The process is simple: drop the link of the GIF of your choice into the status update bar and voila!  GIFs can come from all of your favorite sources including Tumblr, Imgur, a Google Image search, etc.  Cue the onslaught of cute animals doing ridiculous things populating your newsfeed.  Sometimes pictures, or better yet, animated pictures, are worth a 1,000 words.

Some Facebook features rumored to be in the pipeline are creating quite the hype.  One of these is emoji reactions.  For as long as we can remember, the only way users have been able to react to someone’s status update, photo, video, etc. has been to either like or comment the post.  However, depending on the subject of the post, liking the post in question may not be an appropriate or ideal way to express your feelings.  Emoji reactions are meant to expand the way in which you can interact with others on Facebook.  There are six emoji reactions in the pipeline: love, haha, yay, wow, sad, and angry.  These reactions are only available in Spain and Ireland at the moment but they will soon be finding their way to your feed.  Why Spain and Ireland?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Perhaps Spaniards and the Irish are especially expressive people?

The last Facebook feature is one that the masses have been requesting for years and years: a dislike button.  Similar to emoji reactions, there are some status updates where a “like” would not be appropriate i.e. a death in the family or a crisis.  However, don’t expect a real dislike button.  Zuckerberg and company are being careful with this new feature as they don’t want to open up a can of worms.  Facebook certainly doesn’t want to facilitate an environment of negativity on its own platform.  Instead, Facebook wants its “dislike button” to serve the purpose of being a way to sympathize with others.  It will be interesting to see how everything shakes out as this feature calls for some sensitivity and finesse.  I mean do we really want people to have the ability to dislike your friend’s meal pictures, baby pictures, or dog and cat pictures?  On second thought, that doesn’t sound quite so bad!

From a marketer’s perspective, what impact will these new features have upon how we gauge the success or failure of our social media campaigns?  In analyzing social media posts, marketers often look at new fans, likes, comments, shares, reach, and engagement as key metrics.  How will we measure likes when we have to compare them to yays, wows, or hahas?  Is a like equivalent to a yay?  Is a wow better than a like?  As you can see, things start to get complicated quickly.  These issues will be worked out in time as best practices develop but one thing is for sure: having the ability to better understand how your fans feel about your post is exactly what we want as marketers.


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