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Like It, Love It, Celebrate It: Why Social Media Marketers Will Love LinkedIn’s New Reactions

Tech

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The new Reactions will be rolling out to users globally in the “coming months.”

If you look below posts on LinkedIn, you might see something slightly different than you’re accustomed to seeing.

Where posts on your feed previously generated Likes, they might now be receiving a few different reactions. Appearing under content with a variety of multicolored circles, these new reactions are expanding the ways LinkedIn users can express themselves.

Who Needs More Than a “Like”?

The need to express oneself on LinkedIn might seem excessive or unnecessary for a professional platform, but Product Manager Cissy Chen insists these new options were in more demand than you might think:

One of the things we regularly hear from all of you is that you want more expressive ways than a ‘like’ to respond to the variety [of] posts you see in your feed. At the same time, you’ve also told us that when you post on LinkedIn, you want more ways to feel heard and understand why someone liked what you said.

The latter is incredibly common; when posting something that could be construed as bad or disappointing news (headlines about disappointing hiring trends or discouraging experiences, for example), a “like” hardly feels like an appropriate reaction. Product designers for the platform took up this challenge heartily, “determined to stay focused on our members’ needs and the unique conversations they have on LinkedIn,” said product designer Ricardo Rivera. They sought to create options that helps users to know “why someone ‘liked’ what they shared, as well as more lightweight ways to express that a post resonated with them.”

The Result: Meet LinkedIn’s New Reactions

In addition to the preserved “Like” option, users worldwide will soon have access to the following four reactions:

Celebrate

Part of the process that LinkedIn product designers used to determine the most appropriate reactions was an analysis of the most common 1-2 word responses to posts. Their number one finding? “Congratulations.” As a result, this reaction button (designated by a green set of applauding hands) was developed for users to “praise an accomplishment like landing a new job or speaking at an event.” Marketers can use instances of this reaction to gauge appreciation for company milestones, appearances on industry lists, and additions to their respective workforces.

Love

Chen writes in her product announcement that this button, designated with a reddish coral heart, would be most appropriately deployed “to express deep resonance and support, like a conversation about work-life balance or the importance of mentorship.” This one seems to be a direct result of data provided from feedback mechanisms like user surveys and comments- where people often said, “I need a ‘love’ button.” Social media marketers can keep an eye out for this reaction upon the release of new products or product features, or helpful responses to follower queries.

Insightful

At times, it can be helpful to be able to indicate that a point made you think- without doing so in a way that indicates you “like” it. The Insightful reaction, represented by a yellow lightbulb, was designed for precisely this. “In past research,” Rivera noted, “we found that posters want to know whether these ideas have an impact on other people. This insight (no pun intended) inspired the “Insightful” (and “Curious”) reaction. When using content to present ideas that they hope will spark behavior changes or meaningful feedback, observing the use of this reaction can help content creators determine whether their content is achieving the desired goal.

Curious

This reaction, closely related to the Insightful response, “lets [users] show [their] desire to learn more or react to a thought-provoking topic.” This option could provide particular insight to content creators, as it could provide clear clues about what elements of a concept or process might merit follow-up or supplemental coverage. This reaction, denoted with a purple “thinking” head, is one that likely finds special utility on LinkedIn—a more educational space than other platforms who have deployed reactions previously.

Four New Ways to Connect Humans Worldwide

While LinkedIn’s decision to develop additional reactions doesn’t seem like a novel one, especially three years after occasional competitor Facebook released theirs, what does seem novel here is the deliberacy with which the platform moved. Three admirable principles upon which the company based their reaction development were constructiveness to a poster, meaningful interaction drive (versus vanity metrics), and global universality- Rivera and his design team insisted that “reactions should be understood globally so that every member of the global workforce can have productive conversations with each other on LinkedIn.”

To acknowledge that humans can have a multitude of reactions to a single stimulus, in turn acknowledges the humanity of people using the platform. This is a stride that aligns with LinkedIn’s recent larger focus in this area: “LinkedIn has been infusing a warmer, more human look and feel in all of [its] visuals to help build more emotional connections,” and the manner in which this change was deployed demonstrates that. After so many years of fighting its reputation as a stiff, hard-to-understand platform, moves like this and their “Kudos” feature are actively making a dent in that perception.

And for marketers seeking to infuse humanity in their communications, LinkedIn is finally a platform that can “meet you there,” as it were. Inc. points out that “a more diverse range of options lets marketers know how people truly [feel] about their content.” Although the full range of reactions isn’t captured here—notably, there are no negative or potentially negative options provided—it does give social media managers and social listeners new insight into the audiences they’re seeking to understand…and all the many feelings they may have about you and your company.

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