We’re not even halfway through 2018 and it’s already been a tumultuous year for Facebook. The Cambridge Analytica scandal resulted in calls to #DeleteFacebook, a share price rollercoaster and questions from political leaders on both sides of the aisle. Bit amidst the chaos, Facebook went ahead with F8, its regular developer conference.
This year’s event focused on updates designed to remedy issues of the past and establish new growth opportunities for the future. The announcement of plans to launch a dating service raised a few eyebrows, especially in the light of the company’s lacklustre track record in privacy protection. More well-received, however, was news that a ‘Clear History’ tool would be introduced in the coming months, enabling users to delete their cookies and history. Users will also be able to see and clear information about the apps and websites with which they’ve interacted – a sign Facebook does not want a repeat of Cambridge Analytica.
There is one new feature, however, that is already being tested in Australia. You might not have noticed it, but it could impact the ways brands interact with their customers and Facebook fans.
Up and Downvotes on Facebook
Facebook plans to introduce an Up and Downvote tool for comments. The new feature is already popping up in Australia for larger, public posts, although I’ve only seen it on the mobile version of Facebook at the time of writing. The idea is that users can ‘up vote’ or ‘downvote’ comments based on quality. As Facebook explains, users would, “Press the up arrow if you think the comment is helpful or insightful” and use the downvote “…if a comment has bad intentions or is disrespectful.”
The ‘Reddit-esque’ feature aligns with Facebook’s renewed commitment to make the Newsfeed more relevant to users and to focus on generating conversations. Once the comments start to gain momentum, Facebook can crowdsource comment editing and ensure the most relevant conversations are visible.
Facebook already uses Likes and Replies to rank comments. The upvotes and downvotes will take that a step further, ensuring that rogue comments or trolls can be pushed down the ranks. It may also help in the reporting of offensive comments or content that violates Facebook’s Terms and Conditions.
What does this mean for brands?
This feature may seem like a cosmetic change but it could impact the ways brands engage with their Facebook fans and potential customers. On one side, it may make your posts more effective and boost engagement and reach. The best comments will be more visible and could potentially help you share more valuable information, without the extra effort.
The change could however, bring new challenges as well. An ill-timed post or message that doesn’t resonate with your audience could encourage cheeky commenters to try and ‘win’ the most upvotes with sarcastic or angry responses. In a PR crisis, the comments you want most to disappear into the ether could remain firmly in top position, visible to existing and potential customers.
There are many ways to protect your business from these kinds of social media disasters, but it is important to be aware of changes to the platforms on which your brand is active.
Most importantly, brands should always remember to put their customers and fans first on social media. If you continue to add value, whether that’s sharing useful information, entertaining them or providing products that fit their needs, you can more easily adjust to any changes that come your way.