Tapping the Emotional: How to Use Facebook’s New Reactions Feature for Your Non-Profit’s Social Media Strategy

This week Facebook rolled out—to great fanfare—its new Reactions feature, a very welcome addition that finally allows users to forgo the simple “like” button that, to be honest, doesn’t always fit the occasion. With the new Reactions option, we can now express “love,” “ha ha,” “wow,” “sad” and “angry” when responding to people’s posts, giving us the ability to share more of our feelings on a particular topic or subject and, hopefully, giving everyone the chance to foster more dialogue and become more involved in myriad conversations.


However, for non-profits who maintain a strong Facebook presence, Reactions will surely provide the chance to fine-tune their social media strategies and frameworks and increase their impact across various supporter bases. How exactly? Through tapping into the natural emotional consciousness of every non-profit donor, supporter and volunteer and giving those individuals a chance to more strongly express themselves. Consider these thoughts:

  • You can now closely analyze what Reactions people are clicking and adjust your posts accordingly. Are people angry about a particular situation that your organization is trying to fix? Tell them how you’re righting a wrong with every post and encourage them to be active participants in your crusade.
  • If you find yourself getting a lot of “wow” clicks, you’ve obviously tapped into a part of the reader’s psyche that merits additional scrutiny. What about your post elicited the response? Was it positive or negative? Engage them in conversation to find out and sculpt additional posts that speak to their feelings.
  • Although most non-profits don’t mean to necessarily entertain, the “ha ha” button can speak volumes. What made them laugh? And can that laughter translate into increasing support? It’s certainly worth keeping your readers amused—even if your cause is serious and anything but amusing—and that little bit of levity can go a long way.
  • The “love” reaction may be the hardest one to pin down when trying to hone your social media efforts. Certainly it’s stronger than “like,” but what about your cause or mission caused the response? Perhaps it was a glorious success in reaching a monetary milestone or a fundraising event that was incredibly successful. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the “love” clicks and ask them directly what about a particular post moved them so, and craft additional content that evokes the same response.
  • Certainly “sad” is an emotion that moves us all at the very deepest of levels. But how can your non-profit use sadness to attain its goals without coming off as cold or dismissive? If a post gets a lot of “sad” Reactions, be sure to include content that lets readers know how you plan to remedy the specific situation that prompted them to click the Reaction: it will let them know that their response made a difference and was taken seriously.

Lastly, as soon as Facebook unveiled Reactions, the Analytics page—where you can track responses—also went live. Use this page early and often: it will show you not only the number of corresponding Reaction categories, but also how many read a particular post and how many people shared it with others.

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