Known as threaded comments, the feature is available on all Facebook pages, an addition “designed to improve conversations across the social network,” says Facebook journalism program manager Vadim Lavrusik.
The feature will be especially helpful for businesses and brands because it will enable conversations between the Page administrator and its fans or followers.
So far, however, the threads can only go one layer deep, making in-depth conversations impossible.
“You and your readers will have the ability to reply directly to comments left on your page content and start conversation threads, which will make it easier for you to interact directly with individual readers and keep relevant conversations connected,” says Lavrusik in a blog post.
“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.”
Facebook, which has been working on the update since November, says the new feature will immediately be turned on for profiles with more than 10,000 followers.
Those with fewer followers can opt-into the reply feature. In the Page admin panel in the ‘manage permissions section, there is a prompt to turn ‘replies’ on. Although the feature will become the default setting for all pages as of July 10, page administrators can still opt-out.
Threaded comments will initially be available only for desktop, although the social media site plans to make it available in the Graph API and for mobile in the future.
Lavrusik gave some examples of “how the new feature can improve conversations and be used to start open dialogues with the community” in the following excerpt:
When Grantland’s Bill Simmons was doing a livestream around March Madness coverage, he asked his followers to submit questions for him and his guests, which they would answer on the livestream as well as reply directly to the viewer asking the question. Simmons used the tool to source questions for the show and interact with viewers directly.
When The Huffington Post shared an image of the First Family at President Barack Obama’s Inauguration, readers responded with more than 600 comments with several comments sparking conversation threads about the inaugural ceremony and address.
Replies can also be used to foster open dialogue with your community. For example, SportsCenter hosted a Super Bowl chat with Herm Edwards, where viewers were able to ask questions and get direct responses from the former NFL coach and player. The most active conversations during the Q&A were surfaced higher in the thread.