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Facebook Debuts Topical Streams and Topic Tagging

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Facebook’s New Stream

 

Following a Gizmodo report accusing Facebook of tampering with trending topics and claims of bias and filtering on controversial and conservative subjects, Facebook has now debuted an entirely new filterable topic-based Newsfeed for logged in users. (A quick, informal office poll shows that about 50% of our accounts are now enabled.)

Customising What You See

This new Topic Feed bar sits along the top of the main screen on a logged in user’s news stream. The user can choose to then read stories about topics they care about such as sports, politics, food or funny posts.
facebook topics

The stream will then display all relevant posts on that topic. Seemingly, the new stream starts with your friends, family and pages you interact with. Then you will see mixed in some posts from pages and people you don’t already follow or like. This will allow brands to gain exposure and relevance as experts on their niche. They will also be exposed to new audiences entirely.

The User Experience

When you are creating a post, you can now select up to three topics of your choice to categorise the main topic. You cannot add more than 3 topics at this point.

Also, Facebook may auto-categorise posts based on the content. In our early testing, adding a link from ESPN automatically added the tag “sports” while adding the word “wedding” to any post automatically inserts “celebrations” and “relationships.”

fb topics 4
However, there are some “bugs” to work out. When we added the words “same-sex wedding”, it was only tagged “relationships” and not “celebrations.” #ouch

What This Means for Social Media Marketing

To be honest, it’s too early to tell. We’re not sure yet. Anyone who says they have it figured out is either psychic or guessing.

We are investigating and starting our testing on our own streams and will start rolling out the changes across client accounts as soon as we know the answers to our pressing questions.

Here are the questions we’re thinking about:

  • Is it better to add 1, 2 or 3 topics to a post? Is more better or is sometimes less more focused?
  • If you post in irrelevant topics, will the “hiding” and reporting of your posts negatively impact your organic reach (most likely yes.)
  • If you post the same article twice with two headlines specifically catered to each topic is that better?
  • Is it better to post in a high volume topic that’s somewhat related or a lower volume topic that is more closely related? (Imagine babies on a plane – travel or parenting? Or both?)
  • All pages do not have this feature yet. What happens to reach when they do? How much will autotagging help them even if they don’t implement specific tags on purpose?
  • How frequently will non-liked pages and non-friends show up in your topical streams? Is it worth promoting those topics to get new readers?

We will keep updating our knowledge on this and getting better at utilising this new feature for our clients as often as possible. If you notice anything interesting point it out to us!

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By Matt Antonino


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