Haters rejoice? How brands should prep for Facebook's incoming "Dislike" button.

tyler tullis
Tyler Tullis
Senior Account Executive

Sep 16, 2015 | Digital, Point of View

facebook dislike
“NOT EVERY MOMENT IS A GOOD MOMENT,” said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg this week in announcing his platform’s long-awaited and oft-demanded “Dislike” button. Sometimes people need to Dislike to “express empathy” around a sad or frustrated post, he continued.
Surprised by the announcement? You’d be justified. Facebook has endeavored to stay positive since its inception (well, other than its inception) by keeping user sentiment expression limited to Likes. It’s a public relations move that helped keep an already troll-rich social environment from descending into a negative pit rivaling Mordor, but Facebook leadership surely saw the inclusion of such a requested feature as the shot in the arm the brand needed.
The larger question to be posed here what this will mean for brands—suddenly, fans and digital passersby are going to have a new megaphone to tell you that your brand promotion is weak. That your insight on a blog is vapid. That your culture-post of the dog wearing a sweater in the office is lame.
Of course, Facebook users have always had a voice to tell us these things, but never by way of a visible statistic that lingers atop every post you make as if to mathematically impart dissatisfaction.
There’s safety but also danger in numbers—a critical mass the right way means a spike of activity and a larger following. But should sentiment tilt the wrong way it can spell certain doom for brands that ignite consumer ire with spam, inauthentic or just plain unpopular content.

So what are we to do, oh brand managers?

Use this as an opportunity to make content stronger. Don’t take your content calendar back to the drawing board in a panic, just double check to make sure content is on point. There will be less room for mistakes on Facebook now. A poorly worded post, bland promotion or repetitive message can rack up Dislikes far faster than good content racks up Likes, so make sure each post is authentic to your brand and compelling. Think of it as an opportunity to pitch your boss for more time and resources to make content sharper.

Content becomes research. If you receive a glut of Dislikes on your new promotion, that’s probably a hint. Use negative—and positive!—feedback in Likes/Dislikes and Comments to track popularity of your content and promotions over time. If a long series of posts come back negative, you may need to pull back and do a little soul searching with content or even your brand platform.
Take cues from YouTube and Reddit. Facebook is not the first social platform to incorporate a measurement of dissatisfaction. In fact, it’s the central functionality of Reddit, Digg and other social bookmarking sites. There, content lives and dies by how compelling it is. You can even Thumb Up or Thumb Down a YouTube video—but take heart in knowing that the average Thumb Up ratio on YouTube is almost 3:1. Users are more forgiving with content they follow than you might expect.
Don’t be driven by fear. There’s a great line delivered from Sam Waterston I use quite a bit when I think about writing content. You will inevitably garner a negative reaction to a post. Don’t let that scare you away from Facebook. If you’ve got a solid content game that has served you well in the past and aligns with marketing / business goals, then keep on keepin’ on. The threat of incendiary trolling and social extortion has always been a part of social media, so keep perspective—a single troll peeved at your brand can wreak far more havoc than a Dislike button. And for those of you with divisive brands (we’re looking at you, Planned Parenthood, Walmart, political pages, etc) remember that by definition, you’ll attract as much support as flak. Keep positive and stay on message like you’ve always done, and you’ll endure the dreaded Dislike button just fine.
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