Last week, Facebook introduced a new feature called Facebook Replies via an announcement on the company’s Facebook + Journalists page.
Facebook Replies allows your followers or customers to respond directly to specific comments on your page, creating individual conversation threads rather than a single chain of comments. What’s more, the feature will move the most interesting and engaging conversations to the top of your page for all future visitors to see.
In the official announcement, Vadim Lavrusik, Facebook’s journalism program manager wrote:
After months of testing, we have seen how the new feature can improve conversations and be used to start open dialogues with the community.
So far, Facebook Replies is being greeted with almost unanimous good will in the small business and marketing community.
However, like previous changes at Facebook, you won’t have any choice in the matter once Replies is completely implemented.
For now, you can switch on the Replies feature and switch it back off again, if you like, by simply going to the page administration panel, entering the Manage Permissions section and selecting the Replies prompt.
Facebook pages with 10,000 followers or more have already been given the Replies feature, and after July 10, 2013 when the feature is fully enabled, it will no longer be possible to opt out.
Responses to Facebook Replies
Responses to the new Facebook Replies have been positive.
An editorial on VentureVillage, a news outlet covering digital innovation in Europe, said the new feature would allow brands in particular to hold more engaged conversations and also help limit the influence of posters who refuse to stay on topic or have shown themselves to be deliberate spammers.
Cynthia Boris at Marketing Pilgrim explained more specifically how this will work.
Boris said the new feature will improve the rank of conversation threads that are judged to include positive feedback based on the number of likes and replies. It will also improve the rank of threads in which friends of your Facebook page participate.
On the other hand, Boris explained, the Replies feature will down-rank conversations based on the number of spam reports in the thread or based on the involvement by participants who have been identified as frequent spammers.
Meanwhile, Charlie Warzel, deputy editor at BuzzFeed, speculates that the new Replies feature could be the beginning of a whole new Q & A service for the social media network, similar to Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything,” and would give brands and businesses a new opportunity to answer users’, customers’ and fans’ questions in a very different format.
In his post, Facebook’s Lavrusik offered examples of the new Replies feature now being used by brands like The Huffington Post and SportsCenter, to create everything from reader commentary about a recent photo of U.S. President Barack Obama and his family to an open Q&A for former NFL coach and player Herm Edwards.
Of course, adding more features means more complexity. Complexity requires more time and a bigger learning curve. As I pointed out recently, some small businesses are getting Facebook fatigue and rethinking how much effort they devote to the social network.
Think about how you might use Facebook Replies to build engagement and conversations around your brand.
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