Facebook has begun notifying Page admins that it will be removing the Discussions tab application from all Pages on October 31, 2011. The in-house app, also known as Discussion Boards, allows Pages to host simple forums. However, Facebook says “The best way to encourage conversation and feedback is through posts and comments on your wall”. It will therefore eliminate the Discussions app, despite AppData showing that it has 22 million monthly active users.
Getting conversations to happen on the wall will make them more visible, and thanks to the new Friend Activity default tab app, the change will make Pages more immediately relevant to users. This is important to Facebook as Pages are not currently getting many views, which reduces the product’s value to brands and makes them less likely to pay Facebook to advertise for their Pages. The removal of old Discussions threads could anger some users and Page admins.
Facebook launched the Discussions tab alongside Pages years ago to permit longer-form, threaded conversations about specific topics within Pages. The app had as many as 54 million MAU and 27 million daily active users in December 2010. It has since declined to 22 million MAU and 914,000 DAU.
The upcoming removal of Discussions tabs is confirmed by the Help Center document. This is linked to in the alert to Page admins about the change which appears atop some Pages. It appears that Pages can no longer install the app. Earlier this month, Facebook informed Page admins it would be removing the Send an Update direct communication tool.
Users still engaged with the app or that had important conversation on it in the past may be displeased to find their threads erased. Page admins who conducted customer service on Discussions or that had invested time into moderating threads might also be angry. At this time, Facebook doesn’t appear to offer any way to export content from the app before it’s removed.
Tips for how to moderate your Page’s wall in order to avoid customer services problems and help your business can be found in the Facebook Marketing Bible, Inside Network’s comprehensive guide to marketing and advertising through Facebook.
[Thanks to Dan Birdwhistell for the tip]