What you should know about Facebook’s Reply button

For marketers, it affords an outstanding opportunity to improve connections with followers of your brand.


Recently, Facebook announced a significant update—the release of the Reply button. Though Facebook has had a tumultuous relationship with Wall Street, Zuckerberg and his team are attempting to build confidence within the financial industry. That’s why they’re going to great lengths to develop solutions, features, and products that help brand marketers to use the platform effectively.

Facebook wants brands and marketers to be successful. So, let’s take a closer look at how the Reply Button will help you, as a marketer, to be more successful on the Facebook platform.

Where did it come from?

Community managers far and wide have been requesting a feature like the Reply button for quite a while. They wanted the ability to leave threaded replies, directly addressing those who leave comments on their pages.

Facebook conducted months of testing, and the feature will be rolled out to all pages with more than 10,000 followers by July 10.

Let’s take a closer look at its functionality.

What does the Reply button do?

  • Page administrators will be able to respond directly to each fan comment. That is, they’ll be able to address each user directly in an individual thread, rather than tagging users with the @ symbol within a general comment thread.
  • Comments and replies will be prioritized according to engagement and relevancy. Comments and replies with the most engagement will surface to the top of the post.
  • Furthermore, comments and replies that are relevant to each fan (meaning that the social graph of each user will be taking into account) will rise to the top, giving a unique view of a brand’s page to each fan.
  • The “Reply” feature is only available to Facebook pages, not profiles, and it can easily be turned off by a page administrator, if necessary.

What does it mean for marketers?

One-to-one engagement

Although it’s still in a public forum, the Reply button finally enables brands to develop that one-to-one relationship with their fans that they’ve been looking for. Replying in a threaded format is much more effective in keeping the conversation going than tagging someone with an @ symbol.

Think of this function as being used similarly to the reply function that Twitter offers. If a brand replies directly to a user’s tweet, that reply tweet doesn’t show up in the Twitter feed of all followers, it can be seen by all followers only if they visit the brand’s profile directly. Even then, it notifies only the user who was called out in the tweet.

The Reply Button on Facebook has a similar purpose. Brands can now respond to one particular comment, and the reply will only notify one fan. This gives brands a direct connection with their fans and specifically addresses each comment. Each comment, complaint, or concern can be responded to in a personalized setting.

Although this feature will become a staple for community managers, it will be particularly helpful for brands during a social crisis or when dealing with sensitive topics. Rather than notifying the hundreds that may be commenting within a particular post, these replies will notify only one user. This might help to slow the virality of negative conversations-and that is something all brands should note.

Relevancy

The new Reply button will provide a unique view of a brand’s page for each user. Because comments are going to be weighted by volume of activity and, more important, by social graph, this function will make the ongoing conversations much more relevant.

For example, if Orbitz asks its fans what their favorite beach destination is, and a handful of my friends respond, I will see their comments at the top of the post instead of other random Facebook users who might have replied. This is huge for travel brands, as opinions and recommendations from friends are incredibly influential when it comes to destination or purchase decisions.

It’s still unknown how much the reply activities will affect the EdgeRank algorithm, but it’s safe to say that brands should be excited that the social graph of each fan will be taken more heavily into account.

New layer of insight

The Reply button offers a new layer of analytics and insights that marketers will need to take into account. As brands begin replying to users and as users begin replying to one another, page administrators will be able to see which types of comments are generating the most responses.

If a hotel brand asks its fans, “How was your Easter weekend?” and a fan comments about how much they enjoyed the brunch menu at a particular location, and that then generates a significant number of replies, the hotel brand will know that a specialized brunch menu is something they should offer more often.

Digging through the new set of metrics that the Reply button will provide might seem a bit daunting at first. It will undoubtedly create more work for community managers and analysts, but it will ultimately provide an important layer of insight that social marketers can use to develop content that’s more effective and more engaging.

Marketers, how has your workflow changed with the addition of the Reply button on Facebook?

Erica McClenny is the senior vice president of client services at Expion. A version of this article first appeared on Shelly Kramer’s V3 integrated marketing blog.

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