Facebook imitates another feature from Twitter – Trending Topics. According to TC, after a prolonged testing phase, Facebook has officially launched a redesigned “Trending” section on its web homepage’s sidebar in the US, UK, Canada, India and Australia. The feature is being gradually updated for all users. I was able to access the feature on the web version but mobile is yet to be updated.
The new feature – Trending, which accumulates the hot and most discussed topics in a list has been placed to your extreme right on the Facebook home page. According to Facebook,
“The list is personalized, including topics based on things you’re interested in and what is trending across Facebook overall. Each topic is accompanied by a headline that briefly explains why it is trending. You can click on any headline to see the most interesting posts from your friends or Pages that are talking about that particular topic.”
How cool is Facebook Trending?
I have played around with Facebook Trends earlier too while the social network was testing the feature. At the moment the Trending section is showing up three most trending topics. Michael Schumacher, the legendary Formula One driver leads the chart amidst rising fears that he might never regain consciousness from his medically-induced coma following a skiing accident in late December, 2013.
Once you click on any of the trending topic, you would be shown a list of related discussions, similar to what you see on Twitter when you click on a keyword or a hashtag in the Trending section. However, there are some differentiations like Facebook provides a description of the trending topic. So you are aware why a certain topic is trending and you don’t need to dig to find the reason, a common problem in Twitter.
According to Facebook, “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”.
Facebook has also made sure that Trending is not only about what is trending across Facebook but also personalized based on things that a user might be interested. The below screen grab gives you a snap shot of the discussions related to Michael Schumacher.
Small problem with Facebook Trending
The new feature will excite users to spend more time on the network and find interesting things to consume but it has a small problem too. Facebook will only display ‘Public’ posts and links by Pages, celebrities, and public updates from users who have turned on the ‘Follow’ feature to let non-friends read their public posts. So the moot question is how many users would post updates publicly and have ‘Follow’ feature turned on?
Facebook, after all is still a network of friends and known people. So this also means that you will have more and more brand updates and celebrity thoughts. For example, if I scroll through the first 10 updates of Michael Schumacher, there are 8 or 9 updates from various publications and news sites such as TOI, NDTV, Fox Sports Australia, among others. Isn’t Twitter - an open discussion platform- good for such an activity?
Will Facebook hashtags which has been a fail till now, get more traction with the launch of Trending? The coming days will have the answer. While we try to decode if the new feature is better than Twitter Trends, let us know how do you like the new feature and does it excite you enough to spend more time on the social network.