Now you and Facebook’s CEO can unwind in the same way: playing with Beast. The billionaire’s Puli dog just got his own Facebook Stickers pack, which lets you forgo typing and instead send friends animated images of Beast playing, begging, or wearing the cone of shame. Before you ask “why does this matter?”, consider that this is part of Facebook’s quest to help you communicate complex emotions efficiently.
If Facebook has the most expressive, efficient messaging system, people will use it rather than SMS, iMessage, Google Hangouts, Path, Line, WhatsApp, Snapchat, or any other app. That’s a big deal because people spend a ton of time messaging, which creates advertising and ecommerce opportunities. Messaging engagement also provides critical data on who you’re closest to, which Facebook can use to better target ads and show your more relevant content in the feed.
That’s why stickers are becoming all the rage in messaging. They’ve been part of Asian apps like Line for years, but this year Path got into the action, and Facebook followed suit with an all-free Sticker store you can access from a little smiley emoticon button in Facebook and Messenger for iOS and Android.
At first glance, they might seem pointless or juvenile, but when you think about it, they bring a human touch (or in this case, a canine touch) to texting.
Without facial expressions, body language, or tone of voice, it can be difficult to express things like excitement, sarcasm, or being serious over text. That means you can take a joke too literally, or not realize someone was being sincere. But now if you mean something in a playful way, you can just send an image of Beast gnawing on a toy along with your message. Or add one of him looking angry if you’re not kidding around. While there have been emoticons for a while, they’ve been tiny and generic. Stickers are much larger, more unique, and can show off animations and vivid emotions.
Facebook’s free approach to stickers is especially empowering as you can download as many of the 15 sticker packs as you want. The Beast pack was designed by David Lanham of Impending and IconFactory, it rolled out yesterday, and was spotted this morning by Gabe Rivera. Newer sticker sets include First Mate, which is full of pirates and mermaids, Skullington, which has a bit of a goth feel, or Wide Eyes, which is a little more hipster. The diversity lets people find stickers that match their style, and convey things like “LOL” or “I love you” in delightfully graphical ways instead of with the same old text.
I’ve sent people a few Beast stickers and they stopped to say how adorable they are. It seems Facebook’s work with compassion researchers is paying off and that could give its messaging product an advantage. The messaging war may be won with cuteness.
Personally, I’m going to throw around Beast chasing his tail when a friend is being indecisive, and the puppy dog eyes when I need a favor. Please please pleeeease can I be your +1 to the sold-out concert?