POV: Facebook’s ‘Trending Articles’
MINDSHARE POINT OF VIEW – Facebook has just launched a feature called ‘Trending Articles’ on its desktop platform across selected countries including the US, UK, Canada, India and Australia. This feature allows users to discover what kind of topics are most popular within their Facebook newsfeed.
This is very similar to Twitter’s trending Hashtags, where users are able to see a list of the hottest topics everyone is talking about. Facebook’s Trending Articles will appear on the top right hand corner of users’ newsfeeds. The Trending section will show a personalized and more detailed list of topics, each with a heading and a few lines explaining why the topic is popular. When clicked on, a separate feed opens showing articles, photos, videos, status updates from friends and public pages.
People from all over the world visit Facebook almost every day to express their thoughts, experiences and participate in discussions. It is also a source they turn to find out about the latest news, whether it involves their closest ones or the outside world. After Facebook saw increasing spikes amongst authentic topics of conversation around Nelson Mandela, The Golden Globe Awards, Polar Vortex and 24, the social platform was motivated to add this feature onto its interface. For the attention of advertisers, this could bring them closer to their audience in a real-time conversation space; this is the space that Twitter now dominates and the space that Facebook wants to seize in order to be seen as the place to visit for cultural related stories and breaking news.
Nevertheless, Facebook could be seen as ‘stepping on Twitter’s toes’ with this move and with the previous roll out of the hashtags back in June. The only difference is that Facebook’s Trending seem to be personalized and helpful whereas with Twitter’s trends it is sometimes difficult to understand what a trending topic is about. Facebook’s ‘Trending Articles’ gives the user better context to what it’s trending by having a description next to the topic. The company is also working to select informative, concise and accurate headlines.
An advantage for Facebook is it can rely on its vast and well organized data on what people like and who they are close to, allowing Facebook to personalize based on trending topics across Facebook worldwide as well as what peers are interested in.
At the moment, traffic from Facebook to media sites has increased by over 170% throughout 2013. Facebook has not yet stated whether it is planning to sell sponsored trends like Twitter does, but this of course could be of great advantage for marketers and advertisers. A Facebook spokesman said that if they do, the offering is expected to be different from Twitter’s promoted trends. Moreover, the social giant’s ‘Trending Articles’, is still a very early version and is only appearing in 20 percent of its 1.2 billion users’ pages and hand-picked countries.
With this new feature, users will have a separate ‘trending’ news section added to their feeds, enabling publishers to increase readership on their site. This means publishers can increase the efficiency behind targeting specific audience groups who ‘share’ and ‘like’ relevant stories that are culturally trending.