Facebook’s new Comment Box plug-in for external blogs (currently under testing at TechCrunch) presents new opportunities for publishers, further disruption to social conversations, and plenty of questions surrounding privacy.
The plug-in works with major blogging platforms and combines conversations on both ends of the social line — on the blog site as well as the user’s Facebook page.
That’s a big deal. Here’s why:
First, the use of a person’s Facebook identity in comments could finally be the key in bringing civility to conversations, cutting out spamming and trolling to a large degree. That’s an important step forward in building constructive conversations.
At the same time, it further blurs the line between public and private discussions. If you were to add a comment on your favorite blog site, Facebook will publish (note: it’s an opt-out if you don’t want it) that same comment (and link back) to your Facebook profile page. Every comment it picks up through your friends at Facebook then syncs back with the main blog site. Depending on how you split private and public discussions, this could be a problem. Some of your friends may also not want to see their comments appear on a public forum that they’ve never actually visited.
Second, it’s easier to get to the best comments — the most liked ones float to the top, keeping the crap out of your view. That increases the competition for visibility, which again, should introduce some civility to online blog conversations. Comments by your friends also take pole position — which may be good or bad depending on the circle you keep.
Third — and this should keep publishers awake at night — what happens to the SEO? Since comments no longer reside on the blog, Facebook is now sitting on a rich pile of content that hasn’t yet been mined — and the search referrals are theirs to own.
These are still early days for this plug-in but it reflects the strategic importance of conversations for online media companies. Ultimately, as firms race to the bottom of the barrel for commoditized content, the only things that matter are the community and the conversations it generates. That’s why conversations are the gold mine of Content 2.0. It’s not all about the stories anymore — it’s about the conversations it triggers.
(Photo credit: practicalowl / Creative Commons)