The incredible growth of Facebook and Blogging are arguably two of the most significant internet developments in recent times. According to the Facebook site statistics there are now over 500 million active users and various sources report that there are now over 150 million different blogs across the world. Both these web based phenomena encourage people to share news, opinions and ideas and as a result a marriage between the two was inevitable. Last year Facebook launched a commenting widget that encouraged blog owners to sync their site with Facebook. Blogs with this widget enabled allow readers to post comments on blog posts using their Facebook profile. With 50% of Facebook’s users logging in every day, this is obviously an attractive option for blog owners looking to increase interaction with their readers.

Last week the Facebook Developers site launched a major upgrade to this commenting widget. These include some significant changes that will affect both site owners and site users.

For blog site owners that have the Facebook comments widget enabled will be able to sync any comments back to their Facebook Fan Page. This means comments made a post on the fan page or blog itself will combine together and be visible to people using both the page, and visiting the individual blog posts. This could help to increase the total number of social interactions and also make it easier for site owners to track them. Page owners will also be able to post their own blog comments directly onto their business page. This will enable them to interact with their audience and give readers a response that is clearly from the organisation in question.

As you might have seen in my previous posts, blog spam is a real pet hate of mine! Included in these updates are moderation controls which allow page owners to block users or comments that they would rather not see on their posts – this had to be good news!

For Facebook users, adding posts to blogs will be very easy on sites that have this widget enabled. They will no longer have to login to each individual blog site or enter a CAPATCHA code (the hard to read text you have to re-type to prove you are a human!) to post comments. They will also be able to “like” comments and posts and share interesting content on Facebook easily.

These changes look great for organisations that would like their Facebook page to be the centre of their social interactions and for people happy to use their Facebook profile for social, and business interactions

However, this is not the case for everyone. Many people (myself included) use Facebook for interactions with friends only (and people I vaguely know!) and do not like the idea of using it for business purposes. If I comment on business blog posts or topics, I always do it via LinkedIn or quoting my VirtualStudio.TV e-mail address in an attempt to separate my business and social profiles. I think many people feel the same way and this could be a real issue that could actually decrease interactions to some blogs that embrace this new Facebook update.

Another more obvious potential problem is that not everyone has a Facebook profile! Millions of people do, but millions don’t. By adding this widget you are instantly stopping a huge range of people from interacting with your blog and your brand.

I am in the process of planning updates to our website including the blog page, and the comments layout and moderation is something that I am still unsure of. We want our Facebook page to be a place where we can communicate with people and share and hear opinions but moving everything to Facebook is a bit daunting. It is a bit of a cop out but I think, like many other blog owners, I am going to wait and see what happens and judge the uptake and responses from internet users before making a final decision

If any of you are in a similar situation, or have added the widget to your blog I would love to hear your thoughts. Please go ahead and give me a call or e-mail me on the address below.

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Simon Malone