Facebook have recently adopted a feature similar to one that has been popular on rival Twitter for some time. For some users they will see a new box at the top right hand corner of their Facebook feed with three highlighted ‘Trending Now’ stories. These are displayed with a bold short title and a little snippet of information about it as an enticement to click on and read what’s being said.
Rather than link through to a specific story or article the link takes the user to a new feed with all public or shared posts relating to that particular subject. The feed shows up in a similar way to the user’s personal one, showing how many likes, shares and comments it has received. If it’s public the user has the option of commenting on any of the posts.
Apparently it’s a way to get users interacting with each other, to make Facebook more useful and to share recent news and events. Although it takes the trending topics from Facebook in general the chosen ones that pop up will be tailored to that specific user, based on what Facebook has guessed their interests are.
Facebook offers this explanation to users who are seeing it for the first time:
“Trending shows you the popular topics and hashtags that are being talked about on Facebook. You’ll see stories from people and Pages who’ve shared them with you or have shared them as Public. From the right side of your homepage, click a topic that’s trending to see what people are saying about it.”
At the moment those who have used it so far report that the types of topics shared are a bit light, for instance showbiz news or sports headlines. In this way it may be viewed differently from Twitter’s trending topics; although there is plenty of fluffy stories on Twitter as well it’s also seen as the go-to social media platform for breaking news, often breaking stories before major media channels and networks do.
As it stands it’s unlikely that Facebook’s trending topics will make it a rival for Twitter’s position as a credible source for news any time in the near future however the longer it’s available the more likely users are to click on it. In which case it may elongate the average amount of time a user spends on the site – good news for those who sell Facebook’s advertising space. It’s also likely that Facebook will find a way to monetise the trending section itself anyway, provided it is seen as a relative success and not withdrawn. It could become possible that advertisers can pay a premium to be featured in the trending now spot.
At the moment its only available in the UK, US, India, China and Australia – other countries will be getting it soon.
Trending shows you the popular topics and hashtags that are being talked about on Facebook. You’ll see stories from people and Pages who’ve shared them with you or have shared them as Public. From the right side of your homepage, click a topic that’s trending to see what people are saying about it.