Following the launch public embeds and its public feed API, Facebook is now taking full steps into the real-time social arena. This week Facebook officially unveiled Trending, a new product that’s designed to surface interesting and relevant conversations in order to help members discover the best content from all across the platform.
Since testing began last August, Facebook has enhanced the feature which now includes lists of the most mentioned words and phrases with a short explanation of why each topic has recently spiked in popularity. Each list will be personalized based on things the individual is interested in and what’s trending across the platform overall.
Once clicked, the “most interesting” posts from people that are talking about that particular topic will be displayed. Although posts from friends and Pages followed will be displayed higher in the feed, results won’t be limited to direct connections. Instead, members will see updates from Pages, celebrities, news organizations, and public posts by anyone who has turned on the “follow” option.
The Trending feature is Facebook’s latest foray into the real-time social space. Several of the company’s last released features focused heavily on engaging real-time, public audiences. While it certainly puts the social network in competition with Twitter, it also gives news organizations, publishers, and other members of the media new opportunities to reach consumers through Facebook.
Here’s a look at some of the features currently available to brands looking to take advantage of real-time conversations on Facebook.
Over the summer, Facebook announced that public photos, statuses, videos, and hashtags could be embedded on the web. As a result, publishers can now add any public post from Facebook — which displays any media attached to it — to their blog or website. It also enables people visiting your site to follow or Like content authors or Pages directly from the embed.
The functionality works similarly to how you embed tweets: just click the drop-down menu next to the “Like Page” or “Follow” button to access the embed code. You can even adjust the width of your embed; however, it’s recommended that you do this prior to copying and pasting the code on your site.
This might not be ideal for the general public, many of whom don’t make their Facebook posts public, but it certainly has advantages for brands, celebrities, and media using the social network.
Public Feed API
According to Facebook, between 88 and 100 million U.S. users log in during primetime hours. In the last year, live TV programming like the Super Bowl and the Oscars saw impressive engagement with 245 million and 66.5 million interactions, respectively. And as viewers, it’s not unusual to see news anchors cite comments made on Twitter and Facebook during a story.
With all of that in mind, the social network gave TV networks and news sites access to its data through two new APIs: Keyword Insights and Public Feed. The former aggregates the total number of posts that mention a specific term in a given time frame, while the latter displays a real-time feed of public posts from Pages and Profiles for a specific word.
ABC’s Dancing With The Stars was the first TV show to significantly tap into Facebook’s Public Feed API, which let the network view a real-time stream of public posts mentioning the show or a specific cast member. Additionally, the Keyword Insights API collected relevant posts made by members, as well as a breakdown of anonymous demographic data which was likely very compelling for network execs.
The concept behind the hashtag isn’t new, but the feature is still pretty fresh for the social network. In June 2013, Facebook made hashtags clickable in status updates published from both personal profiles and brand Pages. It also made them searchable so members can bring up a stream of mentions.
A study by SimplyMeasured found that 56 percent of the top 100 brands have posted a Facebook update that contained a hashtag, and nearly 40 percent have posted multiple hashtags. Now that hashtags can be included in the company’s Trending feature, we expect to see a lot more pop up on the social network.
For more tips on how to organize a hashtag campaign on Facebook, check out some examples shared by marketers in one of our earlier articles.
As Facebook continues to experiment with more public features, it by no means forces you to choose between the social network and Twitter. Both platforms can be used concurrently, and often it’s recommended that you support your presence on one social network through another. Each platform has its own strengths, however it’s nice to see that the entertainment and news industries now have some options.
Something advertisers will want to keep in mind is that unlike Twitter’s Trending Topics — which enable brands to pay to promote topics — Facebook trends cannot be sponsored at this time. Similarly, Facebook trends offer more context around each topic thanks to the description, unlike Twitter.
Trends began rolling out on Thursday in select countries, including the U.S., UK, Canada, India, and Australia. The company plans to continue testing on mobile, however an expected rollout date hasn’t been released yet.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.
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