As everybody is probably aware by now, engagement boosts reach on Facebook, and comments, in particular, can have a big impact. Prompting discussion will then signal to Facebook's algorithm that more people should see that post, as they might also want to join in and share their thoughts on the same.
Facebook outlined this specific element of its News Feed algorithm back in 2017, noting that:
"If a post from a Page is getting a lot of engagement, we can understand in real-time that the post might be temporarily more important to you, so we should show that content higher in your feed."
So comments are important - getting people talking about your post can play a key role in maximizing reach. And now, Facebook is looking to highlight to some Page managers just how important that specific engagement can be:
As you can see in these screenshots, shared by social media expert Matt Navarra, Facebook is now looking to highlight the exact impact that your personal comments on a post can have on subsequent reach and engagement.
As displayed in the second image above, when you tap through to 'See more insights' on the impact that your comments have had, Facebook will show you a percentage figure related to how many more reactions and impressions your posts have achieved when you've added a comment, based on data from the last 28 days. These indicators can be displayed on both personal or Page updates.
That could prompt a lot more people and Page managers to engage in the comments, with clear data showing exactly what impact that can have.
It's also interesting timing - Facebook's Q2 performance report will take into account the months of April, May and June, with the averages published based on usage stats over the last 30 days before the time of measurement. That means that if Facebook wants to show a significant increase in, say, engagement, it needs to prompt as much activity as possible this month, which will then enable it to show a significant increase in activity for the period, even though the data is actually only representative of the preceding 30 days.
As such, I wouldn't be surprised if Facebook is looking to report a jump in engagement stats in Q2 - if more people see these prompts in-stream, then start commenting on every one of their posts, and replying to every user comment, that could lead to a lot more activity. At the end of the month, maybe those percentage figures you see will decline by a lot, and they won't reflect such a significant jump in user engagement based on your comments. But by then it won't matter - Facebook will be able to report the increase and use that to highlight evolving performance.
As such, the inclusion of these prompts could mean that either Facebook is seeing a decline in engagement (so it wants to prop it back up), or it's simply looking to prompt more to maximize performance. Facebook, of course, doesn't report engagement stats as a matter of course, it simply provides daily and monthly active user stats. But it does, every now and then, publish an update on specific engagement. I'm tipping they'll share that data again in July.
That, of course, isn't to say that commenting on your posts won't improve engagement. As Facebook's data shows, it will - but I would suggest that commenting on every single post, and replying to every single comment won't necessarily have the same impact over time. You should always look to reply to relevant comments, and prompting engagement can indeed be a valuable approach. But the impacts of that will dilute over time, and activity.
But still, it may help you maximize reach, and these data points could be of value. I just don't know that every social manager adopting comments as a 'must-do' on every post will have a beneficial impact, long term.
But as noted, long-term won't really matter if Facebook's simply looking to show better engagement over a certain period.