Facebook “Dislike” Button: An Awful Idea & How Empathy Could Backfire On Your Brand

In answer to requests for a “dislike” button, Facebook has been developing a button that will allow users to express sympathy or empathy when clicking “like” Facebook Fjust doesn’t seem appropriate. The name of the button has yet to be announced, but it sounds as though it will be something more subtle (possibly “sympathize” or “empathize”) than “dislike.


Let’s hope so. A button named “dislike” is an awful idea. Rather than used as a tool for showing compassion, it would give trolls and the otherwise mean-spirited to more readily disrespect and demean others. There would be haters “disliking” posts that share others’ successes and good news.


Empathy And Engagement

While an empathy button may help engagement on personal status updates, it won’t likely be a big engagement booster for businesses. Businesses typically don’t post updates that warrant a sympathy or empathy response—nor should they. Who wants to see downer posts from brands in their news feeds? Not me.


But what about posting more updates that might prompt empathy responses on your personal Facebook timeline? Could it kick engagement up a notch for your personal brand?


In her recent blog post, Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media shares, “I try to put my best foot forward because ultimately, people will tune out the whiners.”

“However, I think that those who remain positive are seen as having the perfect life. There’s actually a term called Facebook envy, which is very real. We post what we want the world to see and for most of us, we want to present ourselves in the best light possible, but sometimes that display is not reality.”


Like Rachel, I tend to post about the positive, fun happenings in my life or about things that amuse me or make me laugh. If I’m sad, mad, in pain, or ill, I’m not impelled to air it publicly. Believe me, my life is way far from perfect and I realize that others who have a similar social media approach to mine don’t have perfect lives either.


So maybe you and I could garner a little more social media love if we were more open about when things aren’t going our way. If your personal brand shows more vulnerability, possibly making it easier for others to relate to you, could those stronger emotional connections carry over to your business?


Possibly, but I think it would be a dangerous strategy to embrace for three reasons:


  1. You’ll constantly be reminded of your life’s challenges as notifications ping you when people hit the empathize button or comment on your post. It’s tough to let things go and move on when you can’t catch a break from your troubles.
  2. Depending on what you post, your clients and colleagues might see you as a complainer, a crybaby, or a train wreck (or all of the above). Who wants to do business with someone like that?
  3. If you share too many empathy-eliciting updates, people might tune you out.


Easy Does It

I agree with Rachel’s statement, “In a world where we are told to be ourselves and remain authentic, it seems a struggle to share in a way that won’t reflect negatively, but shows we are human.”


Indeed, it is a balancing act.


Quick shifts and going to extremes will throw off the equilibrium.


What are your thoughts about the eventual new button on Facebook? Will it prompt more raw and real status updates to make us connect with each other better or will it further incent chronic complainers to air all that’s amiss?

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Owner, Freelance Writer at Dawn Mentzer Freelance Writing, LLC
Full-time independent content writer and copywriter based in Lancaster County, PA. I am not Amish nor do I drive a horse and buggy, but they pass by my house every day. I'm a fitness enthusiast, lover of live theater, and I believe everyone should adopt a pet from a rescue (unless you're allergic). I specialize in blog content, website copy, newsletter articles, industry editorials, press releases, and social media profile content. Please note that when reading my blog, you interpret and use the content at your own discretion and risk. Tips and guidance that have worked for me, may not produce the same outcome in your situation.

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