Facebook improves conversations by adding replies to pages

Facebook recently announced that they are finally adding a “Reply” option to conversations for Pages. Fans and businesses will now have the ability to reply to specific comments, keeping back-and-forth conversation threads together. In their official blog post, Facebook tells Page owners that this new option “will make it easier for you to interact directly with individual readers and keep relevant conversations connected. Also, the most active and engaging conversations among your readers will be surfaced at the top of your posts ensuring that people who visit your Page will see the best conversations.”

This option has now been made available to the public, but it only applies to pages, not profiles, and only on desktop. Facebook plans to roll the feature out to all pages with more than 10,000 followers by July 10 this year. To utilize this feature, Facebook page managers may opt-in (and subsequently opt out) in the admin panel under “Manage Permissions” by checking the box near the bottom for “Replies”.

What does this mean for digital marketers like you?

The reply option encourages what many social media marketers have been promoting as best practice for awhile now: responding to engagement and continuing the dialogue. Far too often business pages receive comments – both positive and negative – and neglect to respond, missing valuable opportunities to thank loyal customers or address questions or concerns. The reply option keeps topics organized by pairing comments and replies together, making it easier to follow and to address each and every comment.

Also, as Facebook noted, the “best” conversations will show up at the top. They are defining “best” as the conversation with the most replies, not the most positive. So, it is more important than ever to be monitoring your Facebook page and to be directing any negative comments to offline communication with a phone number and/or e-mail address. The back-and-forth of conflict resolution could cause that conversation to be deemed “best” and move it to the top of your Facebook wall. Instead, direct the conversation offline and engage with positive comments.

What you can do to leverage Replies

There’s a lot more that can be done to leverage the reply option beyond simply thanking fans for their kind words or addressing their concerns. The reply option allows businesses to host question and answer sessions, either in real time or over a period of time. Sure, this could have been done before replies, but with replies every individual can have their question answered directly. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Think about the business and who the end consumer would want to hear from. Would they be most interested in hearing from the CEO?  The VP of Product Development? A couple different people? With replies, the fans can ask the questions and then you can have one or a whole host of people respond. Curious to see how this works? See how SportsCenter and Grandland leveraged replies.