A business’s social media presence is amplified by the like button, Facebook’s most recognizable symbol. As a PR firm that also offers social media services, we rely on content that we believe will generate likes for our actively social clients. Clients of PR firms are bound to be affected by the upcoming Facebook like button changes – and the impact might just be a positive one.

Why Facebook is Changing the Like Button

If you haven’t heard about the Facebook like button changes that are coming down the pike, here’s a recap from the story on Bloomberg Business. It started last year at an off-site meeting of Facebook executives. One of them, the company’s chief product officer, dropped the bomb of all bombs: Facebook needed to do something about its infamous like button.

The reason? When users click “like” on a post, sometimes it isn’t because they literally “like” what it says. As every Facebook user knows, sometimes it’s because they sympathize with it. Sometimes it’s because the post addresses sad, significant or somber news that they care about. In short, users click on the like button as a general way to show interest or support – even if the subject matter is more appropriately dis-liked. This has been the reason the company has been pressured to implement a dislike button for years.

Facebook Reactions: The Like Button Alternative 

But instead of launching a dislike button and calling it a day, Facebook will implement an alternative solution called Reactions. Here’s what we know right now: 1.) It’s coming soon, possibly being rolled out in the next couple of weeks; and 2.) It will offer up to six emotional reactions for users to choose from. Presumably, “like” and “dislike” will already be included in some emoticon form and four others will represent sympathy, amazement, etc. For marketers, the bottom line question is: How will it affect my social presence?

If a company’s social media management is well-executed, then the impact of Facebook Reactions may be positive. Sometimes, posting on behalf of clients means sharing news that impacts their industries negatively. Other times, it involves sharing information that is interesting but not necessarily “likeable.” In these cases, changes to the Facebook like button can be very helpful for marketers because having a range of reactions at their disposal may prompt more responses from users, thereby expanding the post’s reach. With that in mind, Facebook Reactions just might be a win.