Facebook Contemplates a Sympathize Button

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The latest Facebook rumor to surface may or may not materialize in the near future – but because it has been talked about quite a bit, we want our social media agency’s audience to be aware. The good news is that it’s not another layout change; instead, it’s the possible introduction of a “Sympathize” button.

Why a Sympathize Button?

For years, Facebook users have petitioned for a “Dislike” button so that friends’ posts could be disliked if they were deemed unpleasant, offensive, or the opposite: worthy of sympathy. The official Facebook position on a Dislike button appears to be that it would become a negative weight on the network; one possible outcome, for example, could be a mass defect of users who were unhappy about their posts being disliked.

Here are Facebook product engineer Bob Baldwin’s thoughts on the matter. “Actions on Facebook tend to focus on positive social interactions,” he said. “Like is the lightest-weight way to express positive sentiment. I don’t think adding a light-weight way to express negative sentiment would be that valuable.”

However, he said, Facebook knows that users want a better way to express sympathy with friends than the “Like” button. “I know there are times when it’d make sense, like when a friend is having a rough day, or got into a car accident,” he said. Insert the Sympathize button, which would allow friends to show their empathy when “liking” a friend’s post would seem insensitive.

How Could Brands Use a Sympathize Button on Facebook?

If there was a Sympathize button available to both Timeline (personal) and Pages (brands) users on Facebook, brands could occasionally use it to their advantage. Here is one example.

Although it isn’t recommended for brands to post negative sentiments very often, there are times when it may be appropriate. For instance, perhaps there is some unfortunate event – a family death, weather catastrophe, or unwelcome industry news – that has had a serious impact on the business and its staff.

When that happens, the brand’s Facebook audience (including industry colleagues and competitors) can click the Sympathize button to show their support. This is mutually advantageous to both parties. For the brand that created the post, it increases engagement on the page, which helps with SEO; for the colleagues and competitors that click the Sympathize button, it boosts public profile and contributes to the brand’s positive PR image.

Give Us Your Thoughts

Our social media agency wants to know: Would your brand use a Sympathize button on Facebook? If so, what would you use it for? If not, why do you think a Sympathize button should only be for personal users? Let us know in the comments below.


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