With the next update, as part of Microsoft’s 365 roadmap, Outlook users will soon be able to ‘react’ to Outlook emails without sending or receiving incremental emails.

Like Emojis 

The Microsoft ‘Reactions’ feature will enable Outlook users to choose a thumbs up, laugh, heart, celebrate, or shed a tear reaction to emails. As well as applying their own ‘sentiment’, users will soon be able to see the reaction of others to emails in Outlook. With the preview date scheduled for July and release for August, it appears that Mac users will be the first to be able to try the feature.

Competing With Social Media Platforms 

Being able to react to emails in this way is similar to how social media users have long been able to react to posts. Social media platforms such as Facebook’s WhatsApp and Snapchat have both recently announced the addition of reactions features with more emojis, and Microsoft’s reactions feature appears to be a way to compete with them. For example, on 5 May, Facebook announced the beginning of the rollout of its own ‘reactions feature’ – i.e. six different emojis. Also, back in January, Snapchat announced a major update (for iOS) which included Bitmoji Reactions (to allow for more expression), and Poll Stickers to enable emoji-powered polls in Snaps and Stories to survey friends.

Teams Emojis Expanded 

Back in January, Microsoft announced that it was increasing the number of emojis available to use as Reactions in Microsoft Teams to 800 emojis to allow users to express themselves when applying reaction to chat messages. The rollout was put back to March 2022.

Why Are Emojis So Popular? 

Some of the reasons why emojis have become so popular with web users, particularly with social media users and others involved in chats, is because they are a universal language, they save time (not always having to think of a verbal reply but still responding appropriately), there are now many of them (they offer flexibility), they can be fun, and they can quickly and clearly indicate popular opinion in responses.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The introduction of ‘reactions’ to Outlook emails is both a competitive move by Microsoft (e.g. with WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat, and others who have introduced a similar feature recently) and simply to meet user needs and expectations. For example, many users involved in quickly evolving chats on collaborative working platforms and social media now value a fast, easy way to respond without having to waste time on an unnecessary, new written response. Using expanded reactions Outlook feels as though it may be a natural progression for emails and could save businesses valuable time.

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