What Do Facebook Reactions Mean for Your Veterinary Practice?

What are Reactions?

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If you haven’t logged onto Facebook in the past week, then you might have missed the tiny little emoticons that popped up under people’s statuses. Otherwise, they’re pretty hard to overlook. These buttons each represent a different emotion, or reaction, to a status.

There are 6 Reactions in total: like, love, wow, haha, sad, and angry.

How do I use Reactions?

While the Reactions may be easy to spot, using them is a little less obvious. Fortunately, once you’ve figured them out, they’re not too difficult. On the desktop, click and hold the like button for a couple of seconds, until the Reactions menu pops up, displaying each of the emoticons.

Similarly, on mobile, press and hold the like button with your finger for a few seconds, until the menu appears. If you are not seeing Reactions on mobile, you may need to close your Facebook app completely and restart it. When you do, the Reactions should start appearing.

What do Reactions mean for my practice?

As they’re so new, it’s hard to say with any certainty what impact Reactions will have on your practice’s Facebook Page. But based on what we know, here are some possible implications of the new Reactions:

They could make determining the success of content easier.

Facebook doesn’t currently rank Reactions differently. To them, all Reactions are a sign that a post was successful. However, for your practice, different Reactions could mean different things about your content. The trick is to suss out exactly what the Reactions are saying about your posts.

For example, if an off-color joke in a post elicits a lot of angry Reactions, that could be a sign that you need to avoid that kind of humor in the future. But a lot of angry Reactions could also just mean that the content of the post made readers angry.

Determining what a negative Reaction means exactly will also be important. It could be indication that the viewers don’t like the post (e.g., they find it offensive or annoying), don’t like the content of the post (e.g., this new law your post is about makes me so angry), or more abstractly, just don’t like your practice. It will be up to you to determine which category the majority of your negative reactions fall into. The good news is, we suspect it will usually be content-related.

They could help you anticipate potential crises.

Tying into what we said above about gauging what angry reactions mean, a large number of angry or sad reactions could indicate that a social media crisis is brewing. Negative reactions could help you determine if a post is too controversial and anticipate any potential problems on your Page, which in turn, could give you a chance to respond before the situation turns ugly. Unfortunately, negative Reactions may potentially be fodder for cyberbullies, so be vigilant about noticing any unexpected negative Reactions early on.

They could offer a voice to more of your followers.

When your followers’ immediate reaction to a post isn’t “I like that,” they may be inclined to just scroll on without engaging at all. With a range of Reactions to choose from, you may get more followers engaging with posts that don’t elicit just a “like” reaction. For example, missing pets posts may now see an increase in the amount of engagement generated with the sad Reaction.

They could result in fewer comments.

Conversely, while more of your followers may be enticed into reacting to your posts, you may also find that the number of comments you get on posts goes down a bit. When readers have the opportunity to select a love Reaction instead of commenting when they really agree with a post, they may take the option that requires the least effort. So prepare for a possible decrease in the number of comments your posts receive, and understand why that’s happening.

Your advertising metrics will be less clear.

For the time being, Facebook hasn’t changed the way metrics are presented for Facebook advertising. So if your practice advertises on Facebook, this could have an impact on your metrics. Likes will be shown as Reactions now, but they won’t be broken down according to which Reactions. So getting 22 Reactions could mean that they were all likes and loves, or it could mean that 19 of those were angry Reactions. In order to determine that, you will have to refer back to your Facebook Insights. The good news is, Facebook will likely change this in the future, but for the time being, it’s something to keep in mind when you are measuring your advertising efforts. Ultimately, until Facebook Reactions have been around for a while, we won’t fully understand what their implications could be. It’s hard to predict whether Reactions will become a staple of interaction on Facebook, or if they will fade into obscurity, like notes or poking did. But it doesn’t hurt to consider the possible effects of Reactions and to be aware of their implications for your Facebook Page and ultimately, your practice.

How to Get More Shares on Facebook For Your Vet Practice

Why People Share

A few different studies have been done to determine the motivations behind people’s sharing habits. Research by The New York Times and Fractl reveals that people share on Facebook to:

  • Share content we find useful and/or entertaining: According to the NYT, 49% of people said they shared information about products they cared about, and 94% of people took into consideration how useful that information would be to others. Fractl found that 48% of people are motivated to share content that is interesting, while 55% are concerned with how useful the content they are sharing will be to others. 
  • Nourish casual relationships (NYT): 78% of people said they shared information to connect with people they might not otherwise keep in touch with.
  • Reinforce how they are perceived by others: The NYT study found that 68% of people want to give other people a sense of who they are and what they value/care about. The content they share is designed to reinforce the image they want to project to other people, e.g., as a person who is thoughtful, caring, interesting, etc. Similarly, Fractl found that 17% of people share content to show others what they care about.
  • Spread the word about worthy causes and issues (NYT): 84% of people said they share content about issues or causes they want to support or raise awareness of.
  • Evoke emotions (Fractl): 13% of people share posts that will cause an emotional reaction in others, e.g., happiness, sadness, anger, etc.

What People Share

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If you look at your Facebook Newsfeed, it’s clear to see that some types of content get shared more than others. In addition to understanding people’s motivations for sharing content, it’s also valuable to understand what kinds of content people are most likely to share.

Post Elements

These are elements of the Facebook post itself.

  • Images: Content containing at least one image is shared twice as often as content with no images.
  • Facts: Especially when those facts are surprising. If people are surprised by your information, they will probably want to share this unexpected information with other people.
  • Choose popular topics: Good news for your practice! BuzzSumo found that cats and dogs are among the most popular topics to share. However, to add an extra element to your content, try making your posts relevant/current or health-related as well. These popular topics will also add to the shareability of your posts.
  • Charts: These kinds of posts help people visualize important or shocking statistics, making them more meaningful, interesting, and by extension, shareable!

Content Elements

These are the elements of the content on your website that you can share on Facebook to direct people back to your site. These include the best kinds of blog posts and content to create and share on social to drive traffic back to your practice website:

  • Quizzes: Quizzes come up time and again in research as being the most shared type of content. This ties into one of the factors from above – people like content that helps them reveal who they are to others, even if that identity is how much of a cat lady they are. The good news is, there are plenty of free quiz services (e.g., Qzzr) out there that will not only let you create your own quizzes (e.g., what kind of dog would you be), but also embed those quizzes directly into your practice website, so when people click to take the quiz, they’re taken right back to your website.
  • Listicles: Lists of information are some of the most popular content on the Internet right now, and with good reason. They let audiences know exactly how many pieces of valuable information your content contains. Turn more of your blog posts into lists for an added share boost.
  • Stories: Nothing catches our interest and tugs our heartstrings faster than a story. Stories are how people create meaning in the world and better remember information, so it makes sense that touching stories and unusual case studies would be shared more often.

How to Use This Information For Your Practice (With Examples)

Based on the research above, here are some tips for creating shareable content for your practice Facebook Page (with real-life examples):

  1. The number one thing to ask yourself when attempting to create shareable content is, “Would I share this with my friends and family?”
  2. The best types of posts to create are:

Humorous (e.g., hilarious and relevant posts that resonate with people)

Make sure you’re always incorporating visuals into your posts, whether those are images with your blog posts, graphics you created in Canva, or videos you took of your staff at work.

Bonus: Research also revealed that the most shares happen on Tuesdays, but as a more overall trend, shares are far more likely during the week than on weekends.

Ultimately, creating shareable posts can be a little hit-and-miss, because, as we said, shares are the hardest form of engagement to get. However, by keeping these elements of shared posts in mind when you’re posting to Facebook, you can give your posts a better shot at being shared, reaching plenty more people, and ultimately, raising greater awareness of your practice.

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