Facebook Allows Users to Comment on Pages Without Liking Them, Adds Friend Activity Tab to Pages

Facebook has made two significant changes to how users interact with Pages. Now, users don’t need to have Liked a Page to be able to post on a Page’s wall or comment on its updates. This allows more users to join conversations, which could add more perspectives to discussions but also dilute them with unrelated comments, or drown them with complaints.

Facebook also reached out to us today to announce that users will now see a Friend Activity tab on Pages. This shows users the Likes and comments on the Page’s posts and any mentions of the Page by friends, even if a mention is just text and not a tag. The tab creates a more personalized, relevant view of a Page that might be more engaging than seeing activity from strangers, especially for Pages that receive thousands of comments per post.

Page Walls Now Open to the Public

By previously reserving the right to comment to those who had Liked a Page, participation in a conversation was a value exchange. Users got to share their opinions, and Pages got to reach those users through the news feed and appear on their profile. This made it easier for Page admins to predict the volume of user posts they’d receive and need to moderate.

Now, any user can post or comment on a Page. This may be related to Facebook’s change to privacy around public posts and the new Subscribe feature. Users can Like and comment any public post, and all Page posts are public. This means if a user discovers a conversation or wants to post on the wall of brand’s Page they discovered through a friend or heard about in the news, they don’t have endorse the Page with a Like to join the conversation.

This could help Page’s get more people talking about them, but it could also lead them to have to moderate more negative feedback. A brand experiencing a public relations crisis could see thousands or even millions of users descend on its Page to leave complaints or insults without gaining any new fans.

Friend Activity Tab

Facebook has been showing a Friend Activity tab on Places Pages for a while, allowing users to see the check-ins to that Place by friends. Now Facebook has expanded the Friend Activity tab to all Pages. The tab’s name shows a counter of new activity from friends. Once clicked in a Page’s navigation menu, users see a list of all the Page’s posts that have been engaged with by friends, and all posts by friends that mention or tag the Page.

Popular Pages can often receive thousands of comments on their posts, or wall posts every few minutes — too much for most users to wade through to find posts or comments that interest them such as those by friends. The Friend Activity tab filters out strangers, providing a personalized view of how a user’s network has been interacting with the Page. This could help them find discussions to join, or inspire them to leave their own post because friends are more likely to see it.

By altering the way the site works, Facebook is inviting users to develop new behavior patterns. Similar to how the increase of the post character limit from 500 to 5,000 encourages deeper discussion, opening Page walls and the Friend Activity tab could make interacting with Pages more accessible and inviting. At the same time, changes to the social norms of Facebook could force users to reassess why the site is valuable to them.