It was just a couple of years ago that Facebook introduced new reactions, so users could do more than just "like" a post. At the time, some business owners and marketers were wary of the new system, but time has shown the new reaction types to very useful. According to a recent report from Quintly, the new reaction types introduced in 2016 have led to a huge increase in Facebook post engagement.

From January through April of 2018, Quintly analyzed 44 millions posts from 218,289 brands from every country in the world. Their report found that reactions make up 12.8 percent of all interactions, which is an impressive 433 percent increase in just over two years.

Giving users more options for how to express their feelings toward content they find on Facebook has led to more engagement, but it lessens the value of traditional "likes". Likes still comprise a large portion of Facebook interaction, but the research suggests that "likes" are losing ground to the other reaction types.

In Quintly's first reaction study from April 2016, the 'Like' accounted for 76.4 percent of all interactions and 76.5 percent in their second follow up study from June 2016. However, this year, things are down for "Likes", with the percentage of 'Likes' having drastically decreased to 61.2 percent.

According to Quintly, 'Love' was the most commonly used of new Reactions at one point. During the inaugural April 2016 study, the then-new "Love" Reaction accounted for 50 percent of the total new Reactions used. In the follow-up study two months later, the researchers found that 'Love' was still the most used new Reaction but down to 43.2 percent while 'haha' had taken second place at 25.7 percent, overtaking 'angry'. However, the "Love" Reaction has now dropped to 35.9 percent of all reactions, making it tied for first with "Haha".

The Quintly report also pointed out something interesting about engagement that may be useful for marketers. Liking, commenting and sharing are all ways followers can engage with the content they find on social media, but some forms are better than other. Liking a post is the lowest form of engagement since it takes the least amount of work. On the other hand commenting and sharing are harder to achieve, which make them better metrics for measuring the popularity of a campaign. According to the Quintly data, 70.2 percent of engagement came from Reactions, 18.2 percent came from shares and 11.6 percent came from comments.

One of the reasons brands are wary of the new Facebook reactions is because they include negative reactions. Prior to the introduction of new Reactions, Facebook visitors could only give positive feedback though engagement. But now, visitors can use Reactions to show if something makes them sad, angry, etc. These concerns are not without merit. According to Quintly, the U.S. ranked fourth when listing the countries by the average of how many angry Reactions they get per post.

It's important to keep in mind that many things influence the reaction people choose to use and a negative reaction on a post may not necessarily be targeted by the Facebook page posting the content. For example, a post about a social issue may garner a sad Reaction from the reader, but that may be the appropriate response for content.

As a final takeaway from this useful report, one of the best ways to get a reaction is post something cute, fun or delicious. This makes animals and pets a good choice for post content. The Facebook category "Animal" received the most wide range of emotions in terms of Reactions (love, haha, wow, angry, sad). The "Animal" category did so well that second place was nearly 20 percent behind in the average reactions per post.

As Quintly concluded, "Facebook users are using [Reactions] more and more as they are grow accustomed to their place in the network's digital landscape." Business owners and marketers who take the time to examine the reactions they get will gain a better understanding of their clients and potential customers.

For more research that can help a company's social media marketing efforts, read this article on changes to the way teens use social media.