Facebook with over 1 billion active users has seen much hate and love from publishers. Facebook offers multiple services and plugins to publishers, luring them with the promise of traffic. Many of these plugins are free, including the much touted free Comments Plugin. But are these really free? Does your website benefit?
As my grandmother taught me early in life, “There is no free lunch!“. If you aren’t paying for it someone else is. Or maybe the form of currency is different. You think you are getting free food but, may be, you are the food! Click To Tweet
Understanding the Free Comments Plugin
Lets dive a little deep and understand what is Facebook Comments. How does it work? Why does anyone use it, if at all? What are the risks?
Well, first and foremost users use it because it is free. Secondly, the huge number of Facebook users makes it look as a good bet. Facebook introduced the plugin for the publishing sector, targeting websites and blogs.
The hook was that the web-owners would get traffic from the Facebook users. The comments would simultaneously appear both on the blog and the Facebook post. This was expected to boost the blog authority and engagement, as now the posts had larger number of comments.
Let’s understand some of the risks involved under the garb of free product.
1. Login Woes:
A reader can comment on your post only if they are logged onto Facebook. Logins from Twitter and Google which is essentially the other half of the social web are not allowed. Many readers are also vary of showcasing their personal profile in public.
2. No Backup Support:
Lets assume to get the Facebook Comments Plugin on your website because its free. After a few years maybe you decide to shift to some other system. But Facebook Comments has no backup support. This is why you will have to risk losing all the comments. Click To Tweet With no support for backup and migration you are kind of trapped. If you decide otherwise all of that effort goes down the drain.
3. Facebook Blocked!
Many work places do not allow for Facebook usage. You end up losing valuable audience from this segment. They would read your article but wouldn’t be able to comment as Facebook is blocked at their workplace.
Also if you have significant readers from countries were Facebook is banned, you lose out on that audience too.
4. Gaining Traffic. Really?
Facebook Comments promised to deliver better traffic and engagement directed from the social network itself. For a short period of time it might even seem so. But in the longer term its all about Facebook usurping your traffic.
Maybe the profile picture of someone who commented is attractive and the reader is tempted to check the profile out. He/she is back into Facebook. Maybe someone seems familiar or intriguing the reader wants to know more. He/she is again back into Facebook.Your whole comments plugin is just a trap to lure the user back into Facebook. Click To Tweet And once the user is gone he/she is rarely coming back again.
5. User friendly?
Many report of Facebook Comments back-end to be quite complicated. Although it has improved a lot since introduction but it still is very messy. It does not provide any way to highlight the author. From manual moderation issues to usability. Lots of woes.
Is the Free Comments Plugin Really Free?
As mentioned earlier nothing is really free. Someone has to pay for it in some form.
The social networking platform is designed to keep the users engaged within it for as long as possible. Consider the necessity for having a Facebook login to comment, it pushes any reader who isn’t on Facebook to first register on the website.
Facebook thrives on its users. The time its users spend on the platform is what it sells to the advertisers and is the main source of its revenue. Any and every product it puts out is aimed at achieving that aim.
So Facebook Comments Plugin is not really free. It might benefit some small time blogger but for any big-time publisher its just a bait.