Today, Facebook unveiled its “upgrade” to the like button – six emoticons with which one can express emotion towards a post.  And of course, the first question I got was this afternoon was: How do you measure them?

And, like most things in measurement, it doesn’t require a new tool or a new anything, since the six emoticons map perfectly to six of the “27 types of conversations” we defined back in 2008. Back then, we were being overwhelmed with the unstructured data world of social media content and needed some way to classify the conversations in a way that would be meaningful to our clients. Peter Kowalski, our chief of research at the time, developed the following mutually exclusive list of conversation types:

  1. Acknowledging receipt of information
  2. Advertising something
  3. Answering a question
  4. Asking a question
  5. Augmenting a previous post
  6. Calling for action
  7. Disclosing personal information
  8. Distributing media
  9. Expressing agreement
  10. Expressing criticism
  11. Expressing support
  12. Expressing surprise
  13. Giving a heads up
  14. Responding to criticism
  15. Giving a shout out
  16. Making a joke
  17. Making a suggestion
  18. Making an observation
  19. Offering a greeting
  20. Offering an opinion
  21. Putting out a wanted ad
  22. Rallying support
  23. Recruiting people
  24. Showing dismay
  25. Soliciting comments
  26. Soliciting help
  27. Starting a poll

We are deeply grateful that Facebook didn’t implement 27 different choices of emoticons on every post.

Nonetheless, these six new Facebook reactions do match to six of the 27 types of conversations. Let’s go through each emoticon one-by-one:

Angry reaction

Angry = #10 Expressing criticism

Sad reaction

Sad = #24 Showing dismay

Wow reaction

Wow= #12 Expressing surprise

Haha reaction

Haha = #16 Making a joke

Love reaction

Love = #11 Expressing support

Like reaction

Like = #9 Expressing agreement


So if you’re struggling with measuring these new Facebook reactions or emojis in general, start with the classifications outlined in this blog post, and then follow the 6 basic steps of social media measurement.

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