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Facebook is testing threaded comments with some pages.
This would allow users to reply to specific comments on a page post and break those comments off as a separate discussion on the page.
These threads would appear on the news feed as well. This is currently being tested on a few pages, not personal profiles.
A screenshot below shows how these appear on a Thai page (HT InsideFacebook.com):
Why threaded comments are important
Obviously, from the community management perspective, this will be extremely helpful for direct engagement with individuals on a page. For conversations that branch off of a page post (but may not have anything to do with the post such as negative feedback on the company itself), this will allow the brand to have its response easily found in the thread.
Conversations will be easier to follow and users will receive notifications on replies. This will be tremendously helpful in responding to customer service inquiries where there are a lot of comments but the page’s response might be buried within the regular comment feed.
Additionally, if this does roll out to all pages, there will be ramifications on the analytics and measurement side. Suddenly, conversation threads will need to be measured for engagement, rather than just the post itself.
“Most popular thread” will surely need to be highlighted in any metrics we gather for a brand, as this will help identify not only active community members, but hot topics and subtopics.
Some more comment fun was announced as Facebook is also testing ranked comments as part of the comment upgrade. This would put comments with high engagement at the top of a post thread, rather than displaying the comments in chronological order as it currently does.
Why ranked comments are important
This makes the ability to reply to threads even more useful as when there is a crisis or need for a page response in the comments of a popular post, the page’s response will no longer be lost in the comments simply because of time of post.
If a discussion is getting high traffic and engagement on your page, you should be monitoring it anyway as a basic community management tactic. This makes that discussion more prevalent to your page’s other fans when they see the content.
It also forces pages to be engaged in the discussion on their content. While not every post will require a response, this makes it harder to ignore lively conversation on your page. Remember, Facebook doesn’t measure sentiment so it doesn’t matter if the comments are positive or negative, it just measures their engagement levels.
Again, this also will in some way impact Facebook Insights as conversation engagement levels will have to be factored into post engagement levels. A post that doesn’t necessarily get a ton of “likes” could have a lively discussion stemming from it.