Facebook Adds New Real-Time Trending Tool

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

DisplayMediaOne of the major challenges for social media marketers is finding out what is popular. It’s no easier now than it was in high school. Facebook has launched a new feature that may make it easier for people to see what others on Facebook are talking about. This information is extremely valuable for marketers who are looking for content ideas and want to know how to best engage their audiences. This post will discuss the basics of Trending, the new Facebook feature, and how it works.

“Facebook is a space where people from all over the world gather every day to share their thoughts and participate in real-time conversations, from the highlights of the Golden Globes to the passing of Nelson Mandela,” wrote Facebook Engineering Manager Chris Struhar. “Today we’re announcing Trending, a new product that’s designed to surface interesting and relevant conversations in order to help you discover the best content from all across Facebook.”

Facebook users will see the Trending feature on the right of their News Feed. Each user will see a personalized a list of topics that have recently spiked in popularity topics based on things the user is interested in and what is trending across Facebook overall. Each topic is accompanied by a headline that briefly explains why it is trending. Clicking on a headline let’s the user see the most interesting posts from their friends or Pages that are talking about that particular topic.

The feature is a clear challenge to the Trending Topics on Twitter and similar tools on other platforms. Unlike the Twitter equivalent, the Trending feature on Facebook has headlines that can make it easier to understand why a topic is popular, rather than simply listing popular hashtags.

According to sources from TechCrunch, “The description next to the topic is actually a headline that provides context around the topic and what is causing it to trend. We have rules in place that work to select concise, accurate, informative headlines.”

Trending conveniently arrives just in time to help marketers who want up to date information on what people are saying about events like the Super Bowl, Winter Olympics, and various award shows. Though the feature has yet to roll out for mobile and in many countries, Trending is currently available on the web in US, UK, Canada, India and Australia.

This doesn’t mean that marketers should completely ignore Twitter’s Trending Topics yet. One thing to consider is that Twitter is far more public than Facebook, so Twitter’s results may be more representative of what the public thinks. Many Facebook users have their profiles set so their content can’t be used for this kind of analysis so the results are less accurate. It remains to be seen if the tool ends up being monopolized by people promoting paid content. Also, people are used to going to Twitter to post their real-time thoughts, it may take time for the Facebook trending tool to catch on. Marketers looking for trending content on current events may find more content on Twitter than on Facebook.

The Facebook Trending tool offers marketers a new way to keep up with the news, events, and opinions that shape the views of their audience. It’s more than just a challenge to similar tools on other networks, it’s an improvement. Besides being able to draw from a larger pool of potential users than Twitter, Facebook posts are more informative since there is a much higher character limit. Marketers should start experimenting and learn how to use the Trending feature to research content ideas and learn more about the things their audience cares about.

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