What’s This Facebook Dislike Button About Then?

Facebook Dislike button

Y’know Facebook? Y’know the Like button? Well, it’s got a partner now. A nemesis, an opposite. The balance of light and dark.

You could be thinking it’s a trivial flutter on the grand old social media timeline but it’s NOT.

Humans have been in need of a Dislike button for close to 10 years. And it’s finally on the horizon.

Why did people want it?

Sometimes a Like is so incongruously inappropriate that you actually grimace a little bit. “One year today without Toby. Miss him so much.” – with 14 Likes. It’s off-key somehow, right?

I don’t know though – isn’t Dislike a bit off here too? To me, the Dislike in this situation would be saying “Ugh, can you stop moaning about your bloomin’ DOG already.”

Maybe I have a cold, dark heart but I do think most people on social media would use the Dislike button as a quick middle finger flick. A spur-of-the-moment display of the rampant armchair judgement we love to indulge in.

Even the people who passionately DON’T CARE DON’T CARE DON’T CARE about your food pictures will use it to show just how much they don’t care.

Why did Facebook finally give in?

I suspect they’ve been holding back because they know the Dislike button will bring forth a tide of unpleasantness, rather than the ‘sympathy’ that’s the party line. The button hasn’t yet been released and hasn’t been officially named Dislike. I think Facey may attempt to call it something more positive – though what that could possibly be I have no idea. The N’awww button?

Facebook have also said this is an attempt at user reporting: Dislikes = bad post (though how that links up with the whole ‘sympathy’ claim I just don’t know). It’s generally understood that this means a certain number of Dislikes will lead to the post being deleted.

“We…have had user requests to integrate a dislike button into user posts for several years. We realized that by combining…reporting and the existence of a dislike button, that…we [could] streamline the removal of objectionable material from Facebook.”

Wow, that sounds great, right? Well, it’s an OK theory – but anyone who’s ever run an ad campaign on Facebook will know the negativity they can receive is often unwarranted and likely to spiral rapidly out of control as more people pile on.

What does it have to do with my business?

Before the Dislike button, the only way to show displeasure was to comment. That’s a fairly arduous task – you have to formulate words, attempt to do some spelling…what a nightmare. But now, at the click of a button, you can show your contempt and disapproval with no words at all.

Good news for sneery, time-conscious meanies. Bad news for brands. We’ve all sat with our heads in our hands, willing people to Like our latest Facebook post and prove to our boss that social media IS worth it. Now we’ll be living in a world of dread, flinching at every Dislike.

Because there is no sympathy towards a brand. Your Dislikes will most likely be negative and you will probably need to include them in your reporting on social media. If you currently assess your activity’s success with clicks and Likes, Dislikes will now have to enter the equation. Do they cancel out Likes? Will Facebook really remove brand posts with more than a certain number of Dislikes?

We don’t know yet if Facebook is going to acknowledge this potential problem for businesses. They could protect brands by excluding the Dislike button from business pages – who knows. I think they’d be pretty silly to throw their money-spinners to the wolves but we’ll just have to wait and see.

What to do about it

How we interpret Dislikes is going to depend on two things: what Facebook calls the button and what the social community decides the button is for. Because those are entirely different things. The internet is an organic thing and networks are subject to pressures – look at Instagram and the great shape shift.

First thing I’d suggest you do after the button is launched? Stop asking for Likes. If you often post “Like if you agree” or similar, it’s probably time to resign that. You will be asking for Dislikes.

Second, decide with your boss/intern/mum/social media team what the button means to you as a business. You’re going to have to quantify its meaning compared to Likes, otherwise you won’t know exactly how successful something is. I can’t tell you how to do that yet, as I don’t know what the button will be called or how people will use it – it’s all to play for. How exciting!


I'd click Dislike on this whole Facebook Dislike button business. But what's it mean for SMEs? Click To Tweet