Facebook recently launched a new feature, “Reply,” for pages and accounts with over ten thousand followers, but no one quite hit the mark as to why it’s such a big deal.

Facebook Reply Feature

Ex. option to “Reply,” adjacent to “Like”

Before, a page manager had to be friends with a commenter in order to tag them in a conversation, which was the only reliable way to notify them that their comment received a response. This made Facebook less-than-ideal as a customer service channel, because it forced page administrators to write seemingly arbitrary responses to customers on Facebook that rarely reached them, leaving reputation management as the only real business case for customer service on Facebook business pages.

Customer service before the “reply” feature:

    >Find the customer on a different social network and ping them after responding
    >Write to the customer and hope they come find your response
    >Friend the customer on your personal account — or worse — business account, in order to be able to tag them in the conversation
    >Message the customer from your personal account to notify them that you replied

Nothing was really sustainable and those of you who manage social media for organizations will probably recall endless frustration with the network. You can’t market “business pages” to customers before optimizing the offering for businesses to use!

With the addition of the “reply” feature, all that’s coming to an end — hopefully.

From March 25, 2013, pages and accounts with over ten thousand followers will be able to click the “reply” button, next to the traditional “like” feature and begin a new conversation thread. That will allow organizations to see customer service inquiries through from start to finish – hopefully – without losing the customer.

An additional feature that sorts the conversation threads in the body of a comment by popularity and engagement has been announced. If helpful conversations are indeed popular, they will rise to the top for future customers to draw knowledge from, which may allow to a page manager to address many with just 1 response.

Early adopters of the “reply” feature, how do you like it?

This post was originally published on TMMpdx.com.