Using a Social Media API as Comment Engine

Being supportive of and transparent about reactions, feedback, and conversations which arise after an article becomes public is critical for publishers in the modern era—especially for higher profile media companies and writers. However, these systems are often convoluted with additional logins, usernames, nested threads, etc. While certainly robust enough for any dialogue that could be required and often managed in-house to avoid security issues or public relations gaffes, this approach seems outdated to me.

When people read something, they most often turn to the social networks they have built to comment and converse. Changing that behavior by asking readers to use the comments section of your website (even those powered by social media logins) seems like a lot to ask.

Alternatively, I think a widget or light-weight application, pulling in some social media posts using a self-assigned, article-specific hashtag could provide a better breadth and value of responses if properly managed and curated.

To do that, I propose that such a tool would populate only with comments that both contain the hashtag and which are favorited or likely by article publishers, editors, and authors. This group of media professionals (or assigned interns, of course) often manage social conversations related to these works and do so through the social platforms of their choice. Allowing comment moderation to be handled in the native platforms and filtered on page would provide a level of publisher-focused transparent curation not otherwise available through current modes.

The tool would need to:

  • Hook up to social media APIs
  • Allow the assignment of a unique hashtag and/or inclusion of a url
  • Differentiate managing social media accounts by article or publication section
  • Filter hashtag results to show only those favorited/liked by the moderators
  • Possibly capture existing comments before information is no longer available via the API
  • And it could be nice to be able to reorder the posts once captured

The ability to save posts may make this more complex than a simple tool or widget can handle. Possibly that's the price point for the freemium model—only responses from available API time window or all vetted posts retained by an archiving feature.

Either way this type of functionality appears a much more transparent and easily managed approach to article comments and post-publishing discussions already taking place in social platforms.