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"Don't you think dreams and the internet are similar? They are both areas where the repressed conscious mind vents." Paprika -- 2006

I recently watched a 2006 Japanese anime called Paprika where the quote above comes from. After it was recommended to me, I learned that Christopher Nolan has cited Paprika as an influence on his 2010 feature film, Inception…so to say it was a bit ahead of its time is probably an understatement.

When the character Paprika (who is a sort of repressed personality herself, but I won’t say too much to keep from spoiling the plot) offers this viewpoint it reminded me to revisit a very important area for today’s web marketers to pay attention; that of social commenting.

While online commenting has to date been a very frustrating for all of us, not to mention brand agnostic, for the very reason offered in this quote, times are changing and marketers need to take note.

I first wrote on social commenting for Econsultancy nine months ago here. The purpose of that post was to give site administrators and marketers in charge of 'engagement' for their brand better insight into two of the major players in this space: LiveFyre and Disqus.

Since then however, some really interesting moves have happened. Such that in addition to PPC, SEO and an influencer outreach strategy, commenting should be on every modern markerter’s radar.

Here are the reasons why.

The pageview is dying

Both publishers and brands are turning away from pageviews as a metric of choice.

In fact, according to DigiDay, publishers such as Buzzfeed and Pitchfork (I’d add Quartz to that list as well) are now only focusing on unique visitors and 'social lift,' another term for 'sharing.'

Web comments are evolving

The web is maturing. Not only are many online publications (take Popular Science as an example) ditching unregulated commenting, you now have heavyweights like Nick Denton at Gawker Media vying to solve the age old problem of trolls.

Denton recently told the New York Observer:

I want to erase this toxic internet class system.

Additionally, thanks to social APIs and players like LiveFyre and Disqus, who are making large profits out of providing middleware services for brands (think streams for live events), commenting is turning to qualification. This is great!

Think about it, if I just had to provide my Twitter handle and exact number of followers in order to register for a press pass for Advertising Age’s upcoming industry conference next month (I did mind you…) then why shouldn’t a publication get to decide on some pre-qualifiers for who can comment on a news story? 

It's important to note, I'm not suggesting that we use Klout rankings or some other form of social capital in order to vet who gets to post, I'm merely also championing a social accountability that these platforms can help mediate.

Marketing’s new class system: the content itself

The reality, as it is already playing out will be a closed-door discussion between a publisher and their advertisers (i.e. brands) around who 'qualified readers' are, how to offer them some sort of up-market, tier one experience (that also translates into paychecks for the staff) and also how the cream of this crop on social can lend a hand at promoting the content.

Granted, this all sounds pretty snobbish, and not exactly a win for freedom of voice online across demographics. That is until you consider that access to information and ubiquitous mobile internet are quickly becoming the two staples everyone in the world cannot live without.

If you are providing the most extensive knowledge around a topic matter, and doing so in the spirit of contributing/learning, not fueling hate, then it will not matter where in the world you live, or whether or not you are a subscriber to the publisher's paywall.

It’s telling that Livefyre’s first acquisition was the social curation hub Storify.

Jordan Kretchmer, founder and CEO of Livefyre told The Wrap:

Livefyre powers social media and user engagement on the largest media properties and brands on the web. Storify also delivers a unique and vital curation tool for journalists and editors at many of those same companies.

Modern marketers take note and let me hear your thoughts in comments!

Ryan Sommer

Published 15 October, 2013 by Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer is web veteran and recovering expat who contributes to Econsultancy on startups, content marketing and new media. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter, or add him to your circles on Google+

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