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Tech Bytes: Pros and Cons of Facebook ‘Dislike’ Button


By now, you’ve probably heard that Facebook will be testing a “dislike” button. Unconfirmed reports say the button will be designed to let users express empathy for posts about negative events, such as the death of a loved one.

Assuming Facebook does introduce a dislike button, retailers will need to decide whether to enable it on their Facebook pages. Here are two pros and one con a dislike button would pose to retailers.

Pro #1: Instant Sentiment

Retailers put a lot of time and money into assessing the deeper sentiment hidden within consumer Facebook posts. It usually involves investments in technology, consulting services, and/or internal personnel all focused on reading into whether customers are saying good things about them on Facebook.

A dislike button gives retailers a quick and easy way to measure sentiment. For example, a retailer could post a new promotional discount and ask customers to let them know if they like or dislike it. This could also be applied to new products, store locations and formats, or any other concept a retailer wanted to present for public Facebook comment.

Counting up likes and dislikes is a lot easier than analyzing unstructured user comments. Retailers could still apply Big Data analytics to find out more about why something prompted consumers to click “dislike.”

Pro #2: Quick Response

An offshoot of instant sentiment which is valuable enough to merit its own listing is the resulting ability to quickly respond to customer dislike. A retailer who rolls out a new omnichannel promotional program that earns a bunch of the wrong clicks can pull it back and tweak it before serious brand damage is done.

In addition, retailers can quickly gain an idea of where customer service might be needed. Are you an electronics retailer and a lot of customers hit dislike for a post about your installation service for a new flat-screen TV? You can reach out to the dislikers via Facebook message, find out the issue or issues, and create a template to remediate the installation problem in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Con #1: It’s a Dislike Button

Let’s face it, allowing consumers to click a “dislike” button on your homepage is a leap of faith. Customers could dislike posts you’re not even looking to collect sentiment data about. Studies show consumers are much more prone to share negative feelings online than positive feelings.

In addition, the ease of clicking dislike gives consumers who might not bother typing a negative comment a new way to publicly criticize your brand. And dislikes provide visceral proof of negativity much more immediate and powerful than a bunch of nasty comments that most people won’t ever bother reading.

Therefore, retailers should only enable dislike if they generally receive positive customer feedback on Facebook. In addition, even those retailers who don’t get a lot of negative comments need to commit themselves to constantly monitor their Facebook pages to quickly remove or remediate posts that collect large numbers of dislikes.

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