How will the Facebook ‘dislike’ button impact retailers?

Posted: Monday 21st September 2015 in Paid Media, Retail Strategy, Thought Leadership.

Written by Charlotte Sizer

On the 15th August 2015, Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced thFacebook_dislikeat the social network is looking to develop and test a ‘dislike’ button. The dislike button has been requested by users for years, however Facebook has always dismissed the idea, so what has prompted the change of heart? With the platform recently hitting a milestone of 1 billion users in one single day, Facebook’s growth seems unstoppable and users want more ways to express themselves. Zuckerberg has stated that the purpose of the dislike button is to give users the ability to express empathy, rather than negativity; to allow people to sympathise with problems and difficulties shared by their friends.

What could this mean for retailers?

Many questions are being asked by advertisers. Will the like and dislike buttons appear together? Will the dislike button be compulsory within user settings? Without doubt, businesses using Facebook will be concerned that a dislike button may potentially encourage negativity and debate around their brand. Even though Zuckerberg stated that his aim is to develop a button to express empathy, questions are being raised as to whether this will ever be achievable. Retailers could be threatened by the potential harm to the brand image if the dislike button is seen as a review measure and is used to evaluate the quality and trustworthiness of a brand.

Nevertheless, the dislike button may not be such a negative thing. A new feature in a fast-paced digital world encourages brands to evolve. The dislike button could open doors to new ways of measuring campaign success on Facebook by giving a greater understanding of what users find interesting or uninteresting in their news feeds. This could force brands to create content that is even more tailored to specific audiences, increasing the relevancy of their campaigns.

Facebook will want to avoid any decrease in paid marketing across its channel; therefore Zuckerberg will be sure to prevent the dislike button impacting advertisers negatively. There’s just too much revenue at stake.

How should retailers react?

If this controversial new feature is rolled out across the whole network, brands may have to re-evaluate their tone of voice across their Facebook page; some may choose to be conservative and avoid interaction with the dislike button whilst others may be controversial and fun.

We believe retailers should view the dislike button as an opportunity, and be inspired to create new kinds of content, guiding users to engage with the dislike button in a positive way.

Users are constantly expecting more from Facebook, and if advertisers do not engage with the dislike button they are in danger of failing to meet users’ expectations and cause them to become disconnected from the brand. Facebook will continue to evolve and brands need to embrace the changes in order to keep up with the fiercely competitive market.


Details of the dislike button are still under wraps; we do not know what the button will officially be named, whether it will be available for paid advertising or organic only, or even if the button will be available for business use at all. Facebook is only at testing stage, so we will have to wait to see if it gets rolled out.

I will leave you with a final thought from Zuckerberg himself – “It’s surprisingly complicated to make an interaction that will be simple.”



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