Will Brands Dislike the ‘Dislike’ Button?

The people have spoken and Facebook has listened – the dislike button is finally on its way.

The dislike button has been a topic of debate since the like button was initially rolled out in early 2009. Many people desire a dislike button so that they may express empathy to those who might share sad updates on the social network because, as CEO Mark Zuckerburg said after he announced that developers are working on the new feature, “not every moment is a good moment.” Facebook initially rejected requests for a dislike button over fears that it would create an outlet for cyberbullying, harassment and would foster a breeding ground for negativity on the world’s largest social network. It’s a valid concern – how would you feel if someone disliked a photo of your new baby?

And then there’s the dislike button’s potential effect on brand pages.

For many users, the exact meaning of clicking the dislike button will be unclear. The word dislike has a negative meaning, not an empathetic one, so users may use it to express anger and negativity. With the meaning of a dislike not entirely clear, it will be difficult for brands to use Facebook to figure out what consumers want to communicate. As Facebook’s former Chief Technology Officer told TechRadar last year, “If you want to dislike something, you should probably write a comment because there’s probably a word for what you want to say.”

The dislike button also gives little real feedback for brands to respond to. As Facebook currently functions, if someone feels negatively about a brand, they write out their concerns explicitly in a comment. This gives brands the ability to provide a personalized response to the consumer’s concerns and to gather valuable information about where they may need to improve. The dislike buttons give consumers the opportunity to express their distaste without explaining it.

The dislike button can also serve as a barrier to consumer engagement with brands. While people currently feel very comfortable sharing their opinions on Facebook, many may be skeptical about sharing their opinions if they fear being disliked’ by other users. When people see that a post has a lot of dislikes, they may be less inclined to mindlessly click the like button or share a post with their own friends and followers. With these fears in mind, overall engagement with brands could see a sharp drop off.

Facebook seems to be holding off on the dislike button until they can address these types of concerns, but will there ever be a way to make the dislike button good for business? Give us a “like” on Facebook and let us know what you think!

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