So, Facebook recently launched a Trending section that highlights topics that your friends and others are talking about at any given time. The feature is similar to that of Twitter, with a few unique additions.
Here’s a quick comparison between to two to get a holistic perspective.
Unlike Twitter’s left hand side placement, Facebook has placed the Trending section on the top right hand side of its News feed which is a prime location on the page, ensuring visibility. A press release circulated by Facebook stated that:
Facebook is a space where people from all over the world gather to share their thoughts and participate in real-time conversations, from the highlights of Golden Globe to the passing of Nelson Mandela.
Is this what we go to Facebook for? All this while, I (as a user) was thinking of Facebook as a social networking platform where we get together to engage with friends and family on personal experiences. At least, that’s what I thought!
One thing that comes across very prominently through this press release and the prime placement is that Facebook is pretty serious, not only about the new addition but also becoming a part of the (our) “recent updates”
The list of trends are personalized, including topics based on things that one is interested in and what is trending across Facebook overall and could be the game changer for Facebook.
But when I see it for myself, I don’t think Facebook has figured it out that well. It shows me, on my personal page, trends like Delhi Police and Novak Djokovic, when am interested in none. So how is that personalized? Yes, both the topics are being talked about these days but that is not unique to me. Definitely, it’s a good concept but there is still room for improvement.
The other addition is the brief description to each trend. It briefly describes what the trend is all about in a few lines under the trend.
This is a familiar format! It’s how I would read news on any online portal. With close to 250 online news sites in India, available in regional and national languages, do we really need another one?
Having said that, from a user’s stand point, I am getting to know what’s happening around me on a platform where I am already present. I am socializing and getting recent updates at the same time without making the effort of visiting several sites. It is indeed one plus reason for me to visit the site.
As a marketer, I see this as another avenue to connect with target audience. The future of this section is quiet predictable (at least for brands). Unlike Twitter, which allows marketers to reach people based not only on their long-term interests but based on what they’re reading about, searching for, or watching at any given moment, Facebook targets viewers on the basis of interactions.
Thus, the success of these sites and any new addition purely depends on how well they understand the user and offers those learning to marketers for mutual benefit. Users are excited about this new digital/social wave and they will continue to explore all new options. But what makes one better and useful than the other, is its relevance to both brands and users.
I’d like to see how Facebook trends evolve. May be we see a regional (language) version of this section in near future. Or the launch of Facebook’s new software that uses artificial intelligence to deep dive into data and drive inferences that helps strengthen this section and makes it more relevant.