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How Facebook Reactions Will Lead to Better Storytelling

Feb 24, 2016 4:30:00 PM

How Facebook Reactions Will Lead to Better Storytelling

“Ok, Google . . . How do I effectively engage volunteers in social media ministry?”

Wow! By now you’ve seen the big changes happening on Facebook and you’re already clicking all the different reactions to let others know how you truly feel about things.

Yes, I already dove into old posts to see if a “Like” truly expressed how I felt about certain dancing puppy monkey GIFs.

If you are in church communication, you're probably thinking to yourself, Oh great, just as I was getting better at targeting “Likes” on every post, now I have to figure out how to get people to like, love, laugh, be amazed, cry, and get angry.

What New Facebook Reactions Mean for Your Church’s Facebook Page 

I think it’s awesome. Better expressed, I think it’s WOW.

The reactions that Facebook just laid out are really the emotions that get all of us to share something anyway. The sad truth is that we’ve been thinking so long and hard on how to get people just to like things, that we haven’t put a lot of time in the thinking how we can better share our messages.

Loads of research already points to the fact that these emotions are already in play even when the LIKE button was the only option we had.

As Stanford researcher Jonah Berger says, “When we care we share.”

Have you ever shared something that no one would ever really “Like?” I know I have. Tragic new stories, the passing of a faithful servant. In reality, we’ve been limited up till now.

When we share our story as churches, schools, and organizations, we are really sharing a larger narrative that includes news stories, cultural developments, and other items that hit people different ways. As stated above, when you are sharing the news of a faithful servant passing away, you will be hard pressed to get likes (would you want those anyway?), but that doesn’t mean people don't care.

Until today, you may have not been able to measure whether or not the content you’re sharing is connecting with people, simply because they had no way to react. Sure, we all want people to engage with our posts by writing meaningful comments, but let’s accept the scrolling nature of the news feed and move on.

Reactions & Emotions Make Us Better Storytellers

If you haven’t read the book Contagious by Jonah Berger, I highly recommend it. He lays out several key points such as:

#1 The person sharing the content will use that content portray reflection of themselves

  • Does the content you’re sharing cause any reaction at all? If you continue with your current content strategy, you’ll see immediately whether or not people have a reaction. You’ll also start to see whether or not the content that you are sharing makes people sad, happy, filled with awe, or just angry. If you’re not satisfied with how people are reacting, the onus is on you.
  • So consider, what reaction do you really want fans of your page to feel? Are you providing content that meets those emotional needs?

#2 Emotions drive people to action

  • If the pictures, videos, and stories only achieve “Likes,” it may be time to reconsider what you’re sharing.
  • Determine how you can frame stories to target the more intense emotions of awe, love, and happiness. These emotions give people something to talk about (and share).

Unprecedented Access to the Mindset of Your Friends

Honestly, I think it’s a little overwhelming. Facebook is taking a deliberate step toward turning us into better storytellers. The days of sympathy likes are behind us. As the days and weeks ahead will reveal, we are going to see exactly how our posts are making people FEEL.

We've always wanted to target these emotions because we know they trigger something in the brain. Now the evidence that we are successfully triggering them will be plain to see.

So what now?

Are you ready?

Facebook “reactions” will make fans and friends brutally honest about our capabilities as storytellers. Learning the truth may hurt, but I believe that we’ll be better for it.

Infusing our posts with emotion and passion will help us discover how to share the Gospel message in new ways that have previously been limited by the “Like.” 

Take a step back and consider the amazing message we have to share with our communities. Knowing if and how people will help us shape the way we communicate in the future.

All I can say is, “Wow.”

So what’s your real reaction? I'd love to hear what you’re thinking in the comments below.

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Seth Hinz

Written by Seth Hinz

Seth Hinz serves as Assistant to the President—Web/Media for the Michigan District of the LCMS. A graduate of Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Seth is passionate about connecting church-communication folks and equipping ministries to communicate effectively in the ever-changing digital age. Seth is married, has two sons, one daughter, and enjoys popcorn, Wes Anderson movies, and way too many things on Netflix.

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