How brands can capitalize on new Facebook reactions

- By Katie Patterson, Founder and CEO of Happy Medium

It’s been just over two months since Facebook altered its platform beyond the traditional thumbs up “Like” option to now include an array of emotions via emoticons on posts: Like, Love, Haha (Laughter), Angry, Wow and Sad. This shift allowed for users to react more appropriately to content rather than just being allowed to “Like” a post or comment if they wanted to share more thoughts, but the introduction had many brands wondering how this will impact social strategy.

In this short time, the reviews have largely been positive from in-house social departments and agencies alike. The new reactions allow the opportunity to understand an audience even more and tailor content for heightened engagement.

In particular, companies should pay close attention to the “Love” reactions because it might lend some insight to where you should dedicate a full ongoing campaign rather than just a post here and there. It also could lend insight into potential social media advocates for your brand if you have repeat “Love” reactions from particular users that start to stand out. These individuals could serve a greater purpose for getting your message out to the masses as they’re proven fans of your service or message.

Initially there was a lot of fear of the “Angry” reaction but fret not. As stated in my previous blogs, social media is a great opportunity to extend your customer service. If something is off or falling short, make sure to engage with your audience to show concern and offer a solution to the issue. Your fans will see that your brand cares about their experience and will have more confidence moving forward with your business or organization.

Facebook recently introduced the “Thankful” reaction in some markets for Mother’s Day which includes a flower animation across your screen when selecting. They have cited this will only be available temporarily, but it opens the door for future reaction appearances as Facebook finds interest.  

From an analytics standpoint, all reactions are currently weighted equally so your strategist will need to dig a little deeper to research trends on your page rather than having it easily pulled from insights reports as “Likes” have been tallied previously, but the time investment could be worth it to catapult future campaigns to success.

Discussion among social media experts and pros include hopes that Facebook will allow for specific targeting based on reactions in the future. For example, if a politician posted details on an issue they were hoping to change, they could then target everyone who responded with “Angry” with a call to action such as signing a petition, showing up for an event or even writing other political leaders in hopes of change. Facebook isn’t there yet, but the future could present amazing opportunities for brands in this realm.

Stay tuned to see what other changes come about and how you can best utilize them for your own business or cause.

It's ok to ask


Dr. Anthony Paustian is the provost for Des Moines Area Community College in West Des Moines and the author of "Imagine" and "Beware the Purple People Eaters."

I’ve made a general observation concerning millennials – at least one within my limited context. Young people seem less inclined today to ask for help or assistance related to either professional or personal needs. Twenty-five years ago, many of my college-aged students frequently asked for help. Many have stayed in contact with me over the years, still needing occasional tips or advice. But despite offering this to every class or workshop I’ve ever taught, students – or even the young professionals I work with now – rarely take me up on it.

When having coffee recently with a group of “seasoned” friends and colleagues (seasoned being defined as someone old enough to have gained enough life and professional experience to have learned some lessons along the way), I jokingly shared this observation with the group, thinking that millennials just didn’t want my help. To my surprise, everyone in the group agreed with my general observation and shared similar stories and experiences.

Assuming there’s some validity to this, the next obvious question is “Why?” When I was young I frequently asked for help.

For example, in 1976, I read an issue of Popular Electronics that featured some basic plans on how to build your own computer based on a new RCA microprocessor. At the time, there was no such thing as a personal computer. So the prospect of building my own computer didn’t just excite me, it energized my seventh-grade mind. I used money I had saved to buy many of the parts from Radio Shack, but I had two very large problems: not enough money to purchase the expensive microprocessor and a very limited knowledge of electronics.

What I did have was a neighbor, Bill, who was an electronics technician. I then did what any passionate kid my age would have done. I asked (or more accurately nagged) Bill for his help – something he graciously gave me. Bill even used his connections to secure some free samples of the microprocessor and other components. I learned a lot from Bill. And of course after I constructed the computer, I then wanted something bigger and better. Despite being a busy man, Bill was always there to help. He was my first mentor.

While in high school, I took the knowledge I gained from Bill’s assistance and knocked on the door at Archives, Inc., Iowa’s only computer manufacturer. I asked (nagged) the CEO, Hal, for an internship so I could learn even more. I then spent a couple of years working as a paid intern in the R&D department working with the lead design engineer, Bob. He not only taught me about Archives’ systems, he often helped me on my personal computer project, which by that time had gotten pretty complicated for the limited knowledge of a 17-year-old.

This pattern of asking for help and guidance has persisted throughout my life and throughout the lives of most of my colleagues and friends from my generation. We’ve all had numerous mentors over the years who, when asked, have graciously provided their precious time to help when needed – help that often had a direct impact in developing our thinking and problem-solving skills.

But now that we’re at the point where our age and corresponding knowledge and experience are ripe for helping others, few seem to be asking. Now, I’m not saying my friends and I have all of the answers­ – although our experience has taught us a few lessons – but something has changed. We want to give back by sharing the wisdom we’ve gained over the years, but few millennials ask for it.

I know young people are busy. Social lives, social media, families, and working a variety of jobs all take their toll. With a continuous influx of new books dealing with the phenomenon of “busy” like Smarter Faster Better and Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Living, it’s apparent that people can still perhaps use a bit of advice, or better yet, some personal support from a mentor now and then.

Why is having a mentor so important?

First, we shouldn’t have to learn everything through personal experience or direct observation. Life is and should be a collaborative experience. It shouldn’t be scary and overwhelming, especially since we’re all surrounded by the cumulative experience and learning of people who have already “been there…done that.” Mentors can help us deal with frustration, give constructive criticism, deal with disappointment, and celebrate success.

Second, we all need people we can confide in. True mentor-based relationships are built on trust and meaningful commitment because most mentors are truly there to help, and they take pride in seeing us succeed. Each relationship should be honest, confidential, flexible, and one that strives for mutually defined outcomes.

Mentors want to be mentors. As Lori Greiner from ABC’s Shark Tank said in a recent interview, “I’m paying it forward. I believe in karma. I think it’s important [to mentor others], and I enjoy it. I feel like I’m doing the right thing.”1

Find at least one good mentor - someone you believe has the knowledge and experience you can learn from along with the personal character you hope people see in you. The worst that can happen is they say no, but like Greiner also said, “People are flattered by being looked up to and asked for advice.”

You just have to ask.

©2016  Anthony D. Paustian

PaustianHeadFor more information about Dr. Anthony Paustian, provost for Des Moines Area Community College in West Des Moines, please visit his website at



1 Shark Tank's Lori Greiner on the Importance of Mentorship (April 10, 2015) Retrieved April 10, 2016, from the Entrepreneur website:

The coin toss that wasn't

- Cory W. Sharp is an intern architect at FEH Design in Des Moines and the current president of the Young Professionals Connection

Bizrec1"Why are you here?" someone asked me the other day. "Not just as the Business Record's newest blogger covering young professional topics but as a young person living in Des Moines? Didn't you think of going somewhere else?"

It was a good question -- one that I considered a coin toss as I was approaching graduation with an architecture degree from Iowa State and I tried to decide between Des Moines and Denver.

I love Denver for a lot of reasons. I love its weather where the summers are warm but you can still go snowboarding in the mountains. I love the vibrant arts and cultural scene, the polar bears at the Denver Zoo, advanced public transportation system, its variety of restaurants (including lots of great taco places) and that you can be your own person but it's not too far from home.

But "home" is a powerful word.

There's no getting over the fact Des Moines is home.  But would it be worth staying home if home limited my options? Fortunately, as Des Moines has changed over the past decade, that's not a trade-off I had to make.

I'm here because Des Moines has so much to offer; I'm not the only young professional to figure that out, of course. Just look at the boom in downtown residential living, our own growing variety of restaurants, arts and cultural options -- to name just a few trends -- to get your answer. But, growing up in Des Moines when there wasn't always all that much to do, those changes have only made me love our city even more as time has gone by.

I'm also here because of the influence my parents and other mentors have had on my professional life. (My dad is a principal at FEH Design, the architectural and engineering firm where I am an associate. My mom owns the Heart of Iowa Market Place in historic Valley Junction.)

One piece of advice they've given me over the years is that you only get out of something what you put into it. I've seen them put plenty of hard work, hours, brainpower and, maybe most importantly, passion, into their careers and community involvement. They've also invested a lot of energy and emotion into our family, too. That's what makes it all work so well at home, too.

Because of their advice -- and help from others -- I got involved in community activities like the Young Professionals Connection even while I was still in college. That involvement has taken me through various leadership roles in the YPC, where I'm serving as president this year.

Those connections have made living and working in Des Moines all the better.

I'm looking forward to writing in the months ahead about a range of topics important to young professionals and, as a result, important to their employers. From how to find your passion and how to be a great employee to getting your voice heard, giving back to the community and more, I've always benefited from great guidance from my parents and mentors, so I look forward to sharing their perspectives and more with others.

And, I'm glad I knew in my heart that I didn't need to leave my future to a coin toss.


Email Cory at: 



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