Just over a month ago, Facebook released its much-feared commenting solution for third parties. In that time, Facebook Comments have made their way to more than 50,000 websites, including the Los Angeles Times, Funny Or Die and Vevo.
Today, Facebook announced a set of improved features for publishers and users, alongside some stats that seem to say that the commenting system actually increases, rather than decreases, discussion and Facebook referrals.
The biggest change for users will be the ability to login using Hotmail, which boasts more than 360 million active users. There has been no mention of when users might see Google or Twitter as a login option and a Facebook spokesperson commented that the company is "always looking for ways to improve the product and hope to add as many major login options as possible, however we have nothing further to share today."
On the publisher (and blogger) end of things, changes include the ability to link directly to individual comments, generate larger News Feed objects (as seen below) and access comments using the API. Facebook also added a new, darker color scheme for darker colored sites.
The larger News Feed object gives a preview of the story when shown in the timeline, an obvious move at increasing user interaction. Facebook says two sites have seen exactly this sort of increase as a result of using Facebook Comments.
- Examiner.com continues to see growth with the Facebook Comments plugin. The site has more than doubled its weekly average number of comments since launching the plugin on March 1, and continues to record steady growth week over week. In addition to the increase, the site is seeing more engaging conversations and a significant decline in spam. Additionally, Examiner.com's referring instances from Facebook have more than doubled in the first month after launch.
- Townsquare Media (local radio broadcaster): Since the launch six weeks ago they are seeing an average increase of Facebook referrals of more than 45% across their 170+ sites, which is nearly double than just three weeks ago. Additionally, approximately 50% of facebook.com referrals are new visitors.
Techcrunch noted that, after implementing Facebook Comments, the number of comments had drastically reduced. This came alongside a welcome decrease in spam and trolls, of course, but perhaps at the expense of interaction and pageviews. Many people voiced their concerns that Facebook's requirement of a real identity to leave a comment could stifle voices and interaction. Facebook seems to offer these sites as a retort.
Are these sites one-off examples of increased interaction? It seems that the company's latest updates want to ensure that they're not. And increased ability to link to comments and give friends of commenters a larger teaser should help drive that 45% even higher for some.
Now, if only Google and Twitter were offered as login options, we wonder how much higher that number might rise.