Facebook Commenting Platform: Pros and Cons For Businesses

Facebook has announced a new version of its Comments Box plugin – its social plugin that enables Facebook-connected commenting on a website. In this post we’ll take a look at some of the apparent benefits and risks of this new feature for businesses.

Facebook’s Comment Box plugin

Among the features Facebook has revealed:

  • Social relevance – the new plugin uses what Facebook calls “social signals” to prioritize comments on posts. Comments from people in your social graph, highly-liked comments and active threads rise to the top; those flagged as spam fall to the bottom
  • Comment syndication and aggregation – commenters can push their comments to Facebook; comments left as a reply over there are aggregated back on the original site. Comments then stay sync’d between the two sites.
  • Moderation - Facebook has included a robust set of moderation tools, including visibility settings (comments can be set to be visible to everyone or set so that people only see those from people in their social graph), blacklisting words and banning users. People can also self-moderate, hiding comments that they don’t want to see
    (For more on the actual features, check out this write-up over on TechCrunch)

What does this mean for my business?

So, what might this mean for businesses? There are a number of potential pros and cons at play here:

Pros

1. Ability to comment as a Page

Core to the pros (and the cons) of the new plugin from a brand perspective is the combination of this new feature with the recent change to allow people to use Facebook “as a Page” – commenting throughout the site under the banner of a Page rather than a person. This carries over to the new plugin, meaning that a company’s Facebook Page can engage in conversations on third-party sites.

2. Broader reach of business and user comments

Commenting on third-party sites is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, companies can significantly affect the tone and course of a discussion by participating in it and giving their side of things. On the other hand, it’s hard to know just how many people actively read comments on sites – especially when comment threads get long.

The new comment plugin lets brands increase the audience for their comments, by commenting as a Page and posting the back to their Facebook Page. In doing so, the brand exposes their Facebook Page’s fans to their comments – potentially far more people than might be reading the other site.

3. Bring brand advocates onto third-party sites

As an additional benefit of the previous point, when a brand comments on an external site and syndicates the comment back to their Facebook Page, people who reply to that comment via Facebook will become integrated with the comment stream on the website. Given that (hopefully) many of those people will be brand fans and advocates, this greatly increases the potential of higher, positive, engagement on other sites.

4. Reduced spam

Popular blogs and news sites are notorious for the prevalence of spammers and trolls – people with absolutely nothing constructive to add, who just looking to cause trouble. Those people often comment anonymously, as it’s much easier to cause trouble under an assumed name.

Facebook’s new comment plugin offers the potential to reduce spam comments by forcing users to connect to their Facebook account when leaving a comment. The additional transparency offers the potential of reducing spam comments and comment trolls.

5. Potential for higher engagement on owned properties

The ability to increase the reach of comments beyond a site itself, and to increase the relevance of comments to users, offers the potential of increasing engagement across the board.

Cons

1. Potential for confusion

The new plugin allows people to share their comments over on Facebook. However, once the comments are over there it’s not entirely clear for users that their comments will be aggregated back over on the original site.

There’s lots of potential for confusion, and controversy, when people realize their comments don’t just reside within the protective, search-resistant walls of Facebook. It’s just a matter of time before people start complaining as their comments start unexpectedly showing up on third party websites, or attracting responses from company advocates over on a Facebook Page.

Meanwhile, community managers themselves need to take extra care when posting comment replies, in the knowledge they may be synchronized on another site.

The potential for confusion has a couple of implications:

  1. Companies using the plugin on their owned properties would be well advised to make it very clear to users that their comments may be shared over on Facebook
  2. Companies need to make sure they train their community managers to understand the mechanics behind the new plugin, how to minimize the risks of those mechanics and how to maximize the benefits.

2. Comments tied to one platform

While other commenting systems such as Disqus (which I use here) allow you to sync comments with your website’s database, Facebook’s comment plugin has no such feature. That means that if Facebook changes things around, or if you change comment plugins, you will lose the comments people have previously left on your site.

3. No non-Facebook login

While Facebook is looking to roll out other means of logging in to the Comment Box plugin, right now it’s limited to a Facebook-only login. That means that if people don’t have a Facebook login (even 600m users is only 10 per cent of the world’s population) or if they don’t want to share their credentials via a third party site, they’re going to be excluded from participating.

4. Facebook myopia

Just as news sites filtering news according to the views of your friends runs the risk of offering alternative perspectives to current events, so the prioritization of comments by the social graph runs the risk of not providing dissenting opinions when it comments to debates on content.

Remember – just because someone isn’t connected to you on Facebook, it doesn’t mean their perspective isn’t valid or valuable.

Good or bad?

What’s your take on this new Facebook feature? Any other pros or cons come to mind? Do you think this is a net good or bad thing for companies? Would you incorporate it into your sites?

14 comments
Bradman Jack
Bradman Jack

Social media is a new form of socializing rather its socializing in a added acceptable way. Members can discharge out their animosity whether agreeable or saddened. Sharing images you have clicked just hours before with a friend on a distant corner of the world is made possible. Users can also upload videos, quotes and so on. contextual link building

EriCSN
EriCSN

Hi, Disqus has Google login button now. I think you would like to add it on. ^^

davefleet
davefleet

I miss the days when people didn't leave out-of-context links to their website in blog comments. (removed, BTW)

Grace Rizza
Grace Rizza

I miss the days when social networking was simple.

Jeff Zickgraf
Jeff Zickgraf

Are there any SEO implications here? Do the comments render in an IFrame as to not be indexed by search engines? Some pages on sites may benefit from the keywords and content people provide in their comments.

Dino G
Dino G

Hey Dave, Great information here! Thanks for including a bit about how it relates to community managers! I've read several bits about this new plugin but none which brought in the relevance to a social media manager.

dissertation service
dissertation service

if to be honest i am impressed byt his post and here is why. the reason of why do all thse pros and cons exist is abvious, but neertheless lets think for a moment about the next question. why do we think of using entertaining network for business? as for me - i would be scared to invest money in something that is so unstable, but from the ther hand... all the styff like that is so popular now and it is a great business by itself so why not implement it into something new? you see... there so many questions and lists of advantages and disadvantages are much longer that in this article. just think well and don't be in a hurry making a decision..

Brennan Sarich
Brennan Sarich

Thanks, I was wondering about whether this was a good idea or not myself. I think given the inability to 'keep' comments that technically belong to your website makes it a major no for me, generally speaking.

Norcross
Norcross

Two other potential cons: reliability and page speed. 1. Reliability: since it has to sync with FB to function, if their servers are down / not working, you lose the ability to comment. 2. Page speed: while I haven't had the ability to test this specific functionality, the other FB options are notoriously slow. On one site I was building, removing the "like" box reduced the page load time in half. I assume that the comment box will have to pull info from FB (user info, content, etc) for each individual comment. For a long thread, that would be a nightmare.

davefleet
davefleet

Hi Andrew, From my understanding (though I haven't seen official confirmation), the comments load in an independently-loading iFrame, so it shouldn't slow down the rest of the page. It would be interesting to know if that's accurate. Good point on the syncing though. Cheers, Dave

Norcross
Norcross

All the other FB information (Like box for a fan page / profile, and the single ones on a post) also load via iframe. But they still delay the loading of other information depending on what order they load in. I'm sure there are some things that can be done to optimize it, but there's still the issue of being stuck to their servers for the functionality.

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