During a "townhall" question-and-answer session at Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) headquarters in September, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company was working on ways for users to express a different reaction beyond "liking" a post. Today, the company is finally rolling out what it was talking about: The next-generation Like button is here.

Origins
"People have asked about the 'dislike' button for many years, and probably hundreds of people have asked about this," Zuckerberg said during its public Q&A, "and today is a special day because today is the day that I actually get to say we are working on it, and are very close to shipping a test of it."

While Zuckerberg didn't articulate what this new button could look like during the September Q&A, one thing was clear: Facebook did not want to epitomize the up vote/down vote systems in different online communities, such as the Reddit community.

The interest in a "dislike" button stems from a way to express empathy, Zuckerberg said, not from an interest in criticizing a Facebook status. "If you're expressing something sad," Zuckerberg explained, "... it may not feel comfortable to 'like' that post, but your friends and people want to be able to express that they understand."

Introducing "Reactions"
The veil has been removed, and the new button is here. Facebook is calling the new way to interact "Reactions."

"Today we are beginning to test Reactions -- an extension of the Like button that gives people more ways to share their reaction to a post in a quick and easy way," said Facebook product manager Chris Tosswill in a blog post on Thursday.

To interact with the next-generation Like button, users can hold down the button to choose from different emojis. There are seven emojis to choose from, according to The Wall Street Journal. These include the traditional Like, angry, haha, love, wow, and yay.

This new Like button is initially only available in Ireland and Spain, as the company still categorizes the feature as a "test." "We want to hear from people who use Facebook what works and what doesn't during this test, before we make this change for everyone," Tosswill said. But it sounds like Facebook is pretty serious about rolling this feature out in one form or another to everyone on Facebook; "Stay tuned!" Tosswill said.

The new Facebook Like button. Image source: Facebook..

More data for businesses and marketers
This new Like button has key implications for businesses and marketers. Namely, Facebook can provide more specific data on how posts and advertisements perform.

"We see this as an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are responding to their content on Facebook," Tosswill said. "During this test, Page owners will be able to see Reactions to all of their posts on Page insights."

Because users will be able to choose from more options than Like when interacting with content with this new button, Facebook will be able to generate more useful information for businesses and marketers. And as the company collects more and more data about the use of the new Like button, the social network will likely offer improved targeting abilities for its ad products.

With the majority of its money coming from advertising, having even more specific data will likely be a huge win for Facebook.

Daniel Sparks has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.