In and effort to ramp up conversation and, as always, make more money, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) will begin offering its “Replies” service to a number of popular pages and people starting Monday March 15th. In the past, or until next week, popular pages and people with thousands of followers have been unable to respond to comments directly. The same has applied to their followers. Facebook will now allow users to respond directly to a single “commenter’s post” thus creating a thread. Viewers will then be able to join or engage in this conversation rather than simply commenting on the original post. When I say more money…this will also allow Facebook to gauge engagement. Engagement is a key metric for Facebook as a way of quantifying how much time users spend on the site, valuable data for those charged with how to invest marketing budgets.
For people with thousands of followers, I should be more specific. People with over 10,000 followers or Pages with the same number will be the only ones who will, for now, have the luxury of replying to specific comments. TechCrunch, did however, recently report that this feature will be available to all users in early July.
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Rumors and testing of this new feature began last November and a Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) spokesperson was recently quoted as saying, “We think this update will allow for easier management of conversations around posts, which is a better experience for people interacting with Pages and public figure profiles,”
In addition to these changes, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) will employ an algorithm to determine which threads will be given top-billing. Weight will also be given to posts that have a lot of likes and a relatively high number of replies. On the other hand, threads or comments flagged as spam will drop down the list, and Facebook says it may also “down-rank” comments made by frequent spammers.
If you take a wander over to the Huffington Post’s Page on Facebook you will be able to see how this will look on Pages that you follow once this service is implemented next week. The Huffington Post, as a popular Page, seems to be one of the few companies presently Beta Testing this program for Facebook.
Lastly, for frequent users of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) on mobile devices, you will be forced to wait. The Replies function will not be made available on mobile devices and Facebook has declined to speak on this for the future.