I have experimented with my blog’s comments area by changing the comments feature on my site from the default WordPress comments to Facebook comments earlier. In recent years there’s been several new alternatives to replacing the native comment system. Disqus and Livefyre are couple of alternative that are used on many blogs these days. I’ve tested Disqus as well.
There are few reasons for giving Facebook comments a chance. First of all I did it because I love testing new options to see how they work and to learn if this is something that can improve where I am right now. Then I can inform you of the benefits so you can do the same on your site.
In general compared to the WordPress system, Facebook comments do require commenters to use their real identities and their real Facebook accounts. When people have to post in their real names and their friends and family might see their words they might be more careful with what they write – there might be less trolls. This in theory would eliminate a large amount of spam that any blogger gets and would allow me to optimize my time for writing as I would not be needing to moderate spam as much as I do.
When using Facebook commenting your words also appears in your newsfeed with a link back to the post you commented on. This can be an extra traffic source for a blogger if friends and network of the person who commented sees the link and clicks on it. Also when I respond to comments I can choose to respond as my Facebook page. This gives more exposure to my Facebook page and hopefully more “likes” to my page as well. So all in all these are the benefits:
- More real people, less trolls and less spam
- More traffic from Facebook thanks to more exposure in people’s newsfeeds
- More Facebook page likes to your page thanks to more exposure and your ability to comments as your page
What’s there not to like about it?
One possible negative aspect about Facebook comments is that you will have less comments. There might be less spam and less trolls but you will have less comments in general. Some people just don’t have Facebook accounts. Some people do not want to have their personal Facebook account, full name and profile picture scattered all across the different comment areas around the web.
How to setup Facebook on your site
This is actually a very quick process considering the fact that we are replacing a big part of the default WordPress software – the native commenting area. Here is the step by step guide:
- Install the Facebook Comments plugin.
- Create a Facebook app here – a quick and simple process.
- In Settings go to “Facebook Comments” and tick “Enable XBML” and “Show Comments Box In Posts”.
- In settings also make sure to fill in your app ID and the width of your comments area.
- To turn off native comments, go to your Discussion settings. Untick the option saying “Allow people to post comments on new articles”
- To get a good overview of the Facebook comments posted on all your posts, save the Comment moderation area link.
That’s about it, now you have Facebook comments instead of WordPress comments. To be honest on some designs it even looks better than the default comments.
From Facebook back to Disqus
Just to conclude the story about my own trial as well. I ended my trial period after a year or so and moved back to using Disqus. Facebook ended up restricting the number of commenters on my content dramatically. People seem to be much more comfortable not using their personal profiles for this type of activity. I ended up moving to Disqus as it allows a bit more flexibility for users in terms of what profile they want to write from. Eventually I removed the comments completely asking my visitors to get in touch with me and send their feedback and join the conversation on my social media profiles.
Another thing that I noted is that you cannot export Facebook comments and import them back into your CMS. There is no option to do that yet. I ended up missing out on a year of comments because of this fact. Just something that you should be aware of in case you do plan to go back to the native comments or an alternative.