Facebook Now Testing 'Ranked Comments' on Business Pages

by Corey Eridon

Date

November 14, 2012 at 12:40 PM

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It feels like it's been a while since Facebook launched a new feature or feature test. And by a while I mean, like, a couple of weeks.

But good news! They're testing something new! And while many of their recent announcements have centered around Facebook's paid ad platform, I'm happy to announce that this one centers around organic updates ... although I'm sure it will eventually play a role in paid advertising, too.

So, what's this new feature in beta? Ranked Comments. Sounds intriguing, eh? We learned about it from the fine folks at AllFacebook, and they're aptly pointing out its similarities to Reddit -- so if you've ever up-voted or down-voted content on their site, you might have an idea what this feature is like.

Without further ado, here's everything you need to know (well, everything we know so far) about the newest Facebook feature being tested out for brand pages.

What Are Ranked Comments?

Ranked comments are a test to let the most engaging comments on brands' page posts rise to the top of the list. That means if ten people comment on a page post, and the fifth comment gets 15 Likes while the other comments get juts one or two Likes, that fifth comment will show up as the first comment in the list. So it's not about who gets to it first; it's about whose comment is the crowd-pleaser. Here's an example of what it looks like, courtesy of AllFacebook.

facebook comments test resized 600

As you can see, the comments aren't listed in order of the time they've been posted. The first comment was posted after the third comment, but still shows up first in the list, presumably because it received more Likes. However, it appears there may be something else behind the "engagement" definition being used here -- namely comments -- because the fourth comment has the most Likes, but doesn't appear at the top of the list. It isn't totally clear how much more important comments are than Likes; for example, whether it's better to have 10 comments or 20 Likes. It also appears that if people choose to hide a comment, it will result in that comment getting sent nearer to the bottom of the list.

This feature is not available to everyone yet. It is simply being tested with a few big names and brands.

How Will Ranked Comments Help Marketers?

Well ... by bringing the best comments to the top (which sort of reminds us of LinkedIn's "Best Answer" feature in LinkedIn Answers). Think of it as the highest quality comment getting the most visibility. I mean, isn't it frustrating when a post gets 15 comments, and the twelfth one is just so spot on but nobody really sees it, because just the first three or so are visible? I mean, you love that people are commenting things like, "Spot on!" or "Hahaha," but it's certainly no replacement for a well thought-out comment that really gets the conversation going. Now, those comments that get people Liking and keep the conversation going -- in other words, the comments that help boost your engagement and, by extension, your EdgeRank and visibility in the Facebook News Feed -- are getting more air time.

But this also means those comments that are really negative that receive a lot of engagement will be bubbling to the top, too. So if you post content to your brand page that doesn't strike a user's fancy, that user just happens to tell the world about it, and he/she totally nails it according to the amount of people agreeing via Likes and comments, that's the content that will get the most visibility. You know, the content you don't really want your social reach seeing.

This seems to be a step toward addressing what might be a weak spot in Facebook's algorithm -- that page posts that receive a ton of negative engagement still reap the benefits of EdgeRank, and get visibility in the News Feed. So it's feasible that your brand page could be getting visibility and growing reach off of a page post that is only getting feed-time due to the hordes of people who really don't like that post at all. Now, theoretically, people wouldn't Like a page because they saw a post with negative comments, but we all know not everyone's doing super-thorough research when they Like a Facebook page. They might just see the brand name and thumbnail in their News Feed and click that thumbs up button, or see the first couple of comments that happen to be positive, yet don't represent the sentiment of the majority. This tweak, however, could help address that, bringing the feelings that the most people feel to the forefront.

What do you think of the new Facebook Ranked Comments feature? Are you excited to see it (maybe) roll out to all pages?

Image credit: Frenkieb

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