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How the Restaurant Industry Can Benefit from Facebook’s New Reaction Emojis

Katharine Dalton, Business Analyst.
Written by Katharine Dalton, Business Analyst at Fishbowl.

After much anticipation, the full-scale launch of Facebook’s Reaction emojis hit the social sphere last week. Although the far-reaching effects will take time to fully measure, the initial reaction to Reactions is big—and the restaurant industry will be a main stage to watch this new feature play out.

Facebook users—and restaurant guests—now have the ability to quickly register their opinions in a more meaningful way. Instead of a simple “thumbs up” to acknowledge a post, site visitors can express emotion and empathy. The Reactions—Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, Angry—allow single-click sentiment to be applied to any post, conveying word-free, instant meaning. Although Reactions will initially be consolidated and tracked as post Likes, smart marketers will use emoji activity to derive multivalent interpretations that were impossible to discern from a simple Like. Love the new Tuesday night special? There’s an emoji for that now.

Restaurants are uniquely positioned to get significant mileage out of these new “sentiment” buttons, in part because their interactions will take place on two fronts: customer-to-brand and customer-to-customer.

Brand Derived Content

Social media campaigns are now poised to receive more nuanced feedback. The days of tracking Likes alone are over; now marketers will be able to get a sense of their audiences’ feedback within each post and compare the success of posts with more metrics. For instance, when a restaurant promotes a meal deal, Likes will still be appreciated, but seen as run-of-the-mill. Now, the challenge is to make the post “Love”able – and to increase the “Wow” count. Tracking these more powerful emotions will help brands track campaign successes and frame future communications.

Customer Interaction

Facebook Reviews are gaining traction. Slow to start and primarily an event post extension at first, Facebook Reviews have become more substantial. The review pages include star ratings (1-5) and detailed commentary about the user’s experience. For those reviewing restaurants, their feedback is usually written during the meal.

Now, with Reactions in play, a single complaint posted on a review page, while important, can be seen as a single event. A complaint with a host of Reaction emojis will have much more resonance both internally and externally.

Internally—the brand will see that multiple guests have now chimed in on the review, expressing their thoughts on the matter, potentially negatively. However, this is important feedback and can be used constructively if acted upon quickly. Externally—the commenters can relate to the reviewer and, as intended by Facebook, show their empathy. However, if a Facebook user sees a host of negative Reaction emojis, they might not read through the review to see that the server turned it around in the end.

Reactions are going to make social media management more critical than ever. Even a restaurant known for pristine service, impeccable food and enchanting atmosphere is prone to an occasional lapse—restaurants need to keep a very close eye on their social media to make sure they see more Like, Love and Wow than Sad and Angry.