Facebook Wants All Of The Conversation

For quite some time, Facebook has had a comments plugin for blogs, but it was not used very much. Today, they announced a new version of the comment system that is already being adopted by some large sites. Obviously, this has lots of the big tech blogs talking. ReadWriteWeb specifically remarked about the missing “bells and whistles”:

We got a glimpse of this commenting system on Facebook back in October 2010 and it looked like something to really be excited about. It had comment voting, rating counts, and gave individual stats on each commenter and comment. It looks like some of those features have been pulled into the background, as we’re still seeing user networks in the new system, but no more downvoting. What’s a user got to do to get a dislike around here?

The question is really how this changes things. First, we need to know what this new comment plugin really does. Obviously, there are some basic features. You authenticate using Facebook, duh. There is a reply capability, and of course there are “Likes”. However, this is not just a simple chronological stream. The blog post linked above has more details on how this is ordered:

The upgraded Comments Box uses social signals to surface the highest quality comments for each user. Comments are ordered to show users the most relevant comments from friends, friends of friends, and the most liked or active discussion threads, while comments marked as spam are hidden from view.

There are moderation tools for the comments, the ability for the comment to be posted to your Facebook stream, and the ability to comment as a page (like the RegularGeek page). If you reply to someone’s comment about a blog post on Facebook, your comment will appear on the blog post as well.

Obviously, there are a bunch of interesting features, so many that people are already wondering if this means doom for services like Disqus, IntenseDebate and Echo. The simple answer is a resounding yes. As much power and flexibility those services bring, the ability to tap into a massive user base is probably too enticing for most bloggers.  However, this is not really my point.

I would love to tell you not to use this new system, but I would be wasting my breath. In reality, I think we should accept that Facebook is the new infrastructure of communication on the internet. With a user population over 500 million people, nothing else comes close. Yes, there are more people with email accounts, but there is no one service that has as many users as Facebook. This may become even more true as the integration of mobile devices becomes more prevalent in our lives. If you are mobile, Facebook has an app for that. If you do not have a smart phone, Facebook has an app for that. If you do not want to use the app for your phone, you can use SMS.

Facebook has continuously made moves to ensure that all conversation gets back to Facebook in some way. They changed their messaging system in the hopes that you would not need to use email. They changed their groups so that they would not become as spammy as other group platforms. They have made changes so that brands can talk to consumers. They have started integrating with other sites so that all of your activity becomes a like or a message on Facebook. Facebook has changed internet communication, slowly but surely. Facebook has become infrastructure.

Enhanced by Zemanta

11 thoughts on “Facebook Wants All Of The Conversation

  1. I share the same sentiment. I also wish I could say, “Hey, you guys, please don’t use FB commenting system!” But the value for publishers is simply too great… meaning it will be embedded everywhere. Also, I do not know why blogs would give up such control, that is a lot of data to hand over to Facebook and rely on them to handle! Even the biggest tech companies fail, just look at Google’s latest debacle with Gmail.

    Here are my further thoughts on the matter (video and post): http://pagesaresocial.com/2011/03/01/video-of-further-thoughts-on-social-disconnect-fb-comments/


    1. Holden

      Thanks for commenting, not sure if this is your first one here. Bloggers will quickly give up control for things that make (or could make) their traffic increase. There are many benefits to Facebook’s system, and bloggers have been using systems like Disqus for a while as well. So, it is not a big change for them.


  2. Another way to look at this is, Facebook is working hard to make the internet less useful for those of us who value our privacy too much to have a Facebook account…


  3. It is not infrastructure if you can’t rely on it – not just technically, but strategically too. Can anyone rely on Facebook’s interests being aligned with theirs ?

    Besides, faustian bargains never end well… A couple of decades of watching Microsoft partners should have taught us that.


    1. Jean-Marc

      Look at it a different way. Do any of the comment systems have their interests aligned with bloggers? Only in the arena of comment management, otherwise they are not entirely interested in driving traffic to your site or your revenue. This is only a small piece of a bloggers concern. However, “faustian bargains never end well” is what a lot of people are afraid of, myself included. Lots of people are watching Facebook’s developments with a lot of concern.


  4. it will be intereting to see what new appplication/products will be the next life changer…
    radio, tv, computer, mobile, microsoft, google, apple, iphone, facebook, ….?


  5. You’re right, Facebook does want all of the conversation. But I think there might be a reason – at least right now – to steer clear of the Facebook implementation.


    From my analysis and <a href="http://www.seoskeptic.com/are-facebook-comments-spiderable-implications-for-seo/"that of others it looks like those Facebook comments are not indexed on that page. So the site/blog gets no credit for all of that meta-content it generated.

    That’s a very big difference from a service like Disqus. Here’s a search for a comment I made recently. You’ll note that it returned the site where I made that comment.

    Try that with any of the Facebook comments (just put your comment in quotes when you search) and I think you’ll find that there’s no result. The site where you made the comment isn’t returned. In fact, nothing is returned because it’s within the Facebook wall.

    Does this really matter? Maybe the additional commenting and engagement is enough to offset the SEO impact. But it means that you’ll continue to be reliant on Facebook for more and more of your traffic. Because those comments add incredible value to your site or blog. It allows search engines to learn exactly what that page is about, in the user syntax of its users.

    Yet, Google has shown that it too can be fickle and could shut off your livelihood in a blink of an algorithm change. But using Facebook Comments might simply move you out of the frying pan and into the oven.

    Now, if Facebook Comments were indexable on the site in which that conversation is taking place, then there’d be little question as to whether to adopt it or not.


    1. AJ

      I had not considered the SEO aspects of this. If Facebook allowed the comments to be stored locally, I think that could change things a bit as well. I dislike a hosted model because if you decide you want to change, you need to go through the whole export/import process. I also dislike the hosted model for the same reasons you mentioned, you become further reliant on them for traffic. That may be good, but considering it is not their main area of concern, it is not a great idea.


Comments are closed.