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For Native Content, a Comment is as Good as A Share

We look at how Facebook and Instagram users are sharing posts directly with their friends by tagging their names as comments. 

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Notice any pattern in the comment sections of Facebook and Instagram posts lately?

After our recent Facebook rankings for June, a reader got in touch to point out that many of the comments that we listed were probably made up of just two words: first name, last name.

That’s due to the trend in the comments sections of videos, links and images of tagging a friend or other user to bring it to their attention. We’ve noticed that it’s especially popular on Facebook and Instagram.

Why?

It makes perfect sense, especially for mobile users. Instead of having to go through the lengthy process of figuring out how to share directly to a friend’s page, or to message them, you can just type in their name, let it auto-complete, and rest in the knowledge that they’ll get a personalized notification directing them right to the post.

There’s another theory – that mobile doesn’t facilitate as much of a depth of engaged commenting as other devices. Although this problem is receding fast, thanks to bigger screens, and people spending longer and longer using touch keypads over conventional keyboards, it can still be a pain to type coherent, involved comments from your phone.

Looking at the list of the most commented Facebook posts in Spike in 24 hours, the type of post with the most comments were videos and images, over links. Numbers from Spike, visualized below, show the difference:

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Are there particular types of posts that get more of these ‘comment shares’? A preliminary analysis of the most commented Facebook posts suggests so. Images, memes and videos – i.e. ‘native content’ – all had a lot of these type of ‘comment shares’.

Have a look at the comments under the most shared video of June, from BuzzFeed Food:

FacebookComments

Meanwhile, the most engaged Instagram posts were also feature this trend. Looking at the comments on the biggest Instagram posts over 12 hours in Spike, from National Geographic, it was easy to spot the same pattern:

InstagramComments

Of course, regular comments still have a high value. Social media editors look for high quality conversation in the comments below a link as a sign that their audience is really engaged with the content, indicating that they may be more likely to return to the site or page in future. As well as that, an active Facebook comment thread can mean more prominence in the news feed.

In March, these were the publishers attracting the most Facebook comments on their articles and other links:

MarchFBComments

So will Facebook and Instagram take steps to help facilitate this use case in future? Presenting ‘mentions’ outside of the comments box could help clear up lengthy threads and even help provoke more discussion. While Facebook does have an option to filter comments by ‘recent’, ‘top’ and ‘most relevant’, it’s not the easiest to navigate. If those mentions could also be measured, publishers would find this even more useful.

 

What Next?

 

1) Take a free trial of Spike to see what’s grabbing attention on Facebook, Instagram and more, right now.
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