Preparing for the New Facebook Trending Feature

Just a few days ago Facebook announced a new social monitoring tool called Trending (officially; Facebook Trending).

Trending has popped up here and there over the past year, but this announcement assured it’s release during the next two weeks.

So what exactly is Trending?

Facebook Trending

In our News Feed, in the top right corner, we’ll begin to see the Trending tab. Quite simply, we see 3 trending topics with curated headlines. 

Essentially, that’s all there is to it.

However, for those with a strategic mindset, we’ll find value in breaking down the algorithm for what qualifies as a trending topic.

According to Chris Struhar, a Facebook Engineering Manager for Trending and News Feed, there is a specific set of criteria influencing which topics get chosen as trending:

  1. Your selected & expressed interests and the people and business pages you follow
  2. The authority of people commenting on the topic
  3. How recently the topic has surged on Facebook
  4. The level of engagement around the topic

When we click on a trending topic, Facebook serves up a feed of hot article links and posts related to the topic: (i.e; Golden Globe Awards)

facebook trending feed

If you’re familiar with reddit, this is similar to their hot algorithm for ranking links.

Once Trending gets fleshed out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same or similar links in both feeds for related topics. Of course the reddit algorithm is based on community ranking versus the personalized ranking of Trending. (For experienced redditors, this is similar to a custom frontpage or multireddit).

For those who stay on the bleeding edge of social media, or work to make money with social media, optimizing for the Trending algorithm will surely be a new priority.

And this tactical fascination is not exclusive to our niche world of internet marketers. With the fundamental algorithm criteria public, we can assume every content publisher, ranging from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, to entertainment like The Onion and Buzzfeed, will have Trending on their radar.

Even small and medium sized businesses can find opportunities. Those with a content marketing campaign (or just a smart content marketing mind) will be able to find their way into Trending feeds.

Although Trending is not live for most people (it will be over the next two weeks) we have enough information to begin crafting strategies.

1. Interests & Follows

As a small or medium sized business or thought leader, the first step is identifying and profiling your current Page community.

If you don’t have a Page (a pre-requisite), I worry for you. Have no fear, setting up a Page is easy.

Here’s a checklist to make sure we’re extracting relevant data from our followers:

  • Order our posts by level of engagement to identify the most popular type of content among our followers
  • Use Facebook’s (or third party) engagement analytics to make note of the best time to post
  • Dig through followers and segment their interests, posts, and related Pages, showing which areas are most popular

For the follow example, let’s make it challenging and pretend we’re at the reins of Maxwell Systems, a construction software company. After taking a look at their News section, we’ll notice one of their recent press releases about construction management. This is highly relevant to their niche, but the big question is; will there be a topic like ‘construction’ in the Trending feed or will niche topics arise later down the line?

The answer remains a mystery, but for now we can still target larger placement for broader appealing topics.

Here’s the Facebook Page:

maxwell systems facebook page

A sample report may include the following insights.

  • 70% of our followers share Buzzfeed articles
  • 80% of our followers have an Breaking Bad

With just these stats, we can get Maxwell on the Trending feed.

How is this possible? (you wonder)

With tailored content marketing. Or more specifically, an infographic that relates ‘construction’ and ‘Breaking Bad’, such as the cost of building destruction throughout the series.

Equipped with this infographic, we have to paths of getting hot on Buzzfeed:

  1. Pitch it to a staff writer
  2. Upload it ourselves as part of an epic list (i.e;  22 Breaking Bad Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind)

If the Buzzfeed article gets hot, the idea is that it will be at the top of the Trending feed for the topic: Breaking Bad. Ultimately, people will engage with the infographic, resulting in multi-platform benefits (i.e; more followers, site visits, engagement, etc.)

2. Authority of Comments

The ambiguity of “comment authority” remains a problem. Masked in unidentifiable weighted factors, we’re limited in where to vest our certainty.

The authority criteria that has been lightly touched on is indicative of traits similar to Google’s Author Rank.

Essentially, the more active/frequent and engaged a user is, the more ‘authority’ they receive.

Regardless of how much weight the authority actually carries, it’s still beneficial to profile and reach out to our most active followers.

3. Topic Timeliness

As obvious as it would seem, the nature of trends (timeliness), is piece of the puzzle.

We, as bloggers or marketers, have little influence over what makes a topic timely. However, depending on context, connections, and circumstance, we may have an indirect influence.

Major news media and entertainment publishers influence timeliness. If we’re in the fortunate position of releasing something ‘game-changing’ or remarkably innovative, we might land prime exposure/coverage around a relevant topic.

Clearly, this is a rare case scenario. Marketers will inevitably find more value in setting up Google Alerts (or other forms of instant notifcation) for relevant industry topics or campaign trends. By staying current with hot trends, content efforts should have a better chance of ranking in feeds.

4. Level of Engagement

mashable share graphAlong the same vein of the previous two criteria, the level of engagement indicates how high a topic should rank. I think marketers and advertisers will find creative ways to ‘influence’ levels of engagement.

Those with tactical promotion efforts may finds ways to ‘boost’ a topic to rank higher.

It’s too soon to detail any strategies, but once Trending is live, we’ll have the data to base promotion strategies.

Your Thoughts?

How do you think marketers will make the most of Trending?  Do you think ranking in the feed will be easy or difficult to ‘game’?

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Jesse Aaron

I'm a blogger, homebrewer, and community manager. Aside from writing, I have a passion for music and design.

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I am not planning to use FB for promoting my blog/business – at least not for now (I need a platform that is reliable…and FB has been the opposite of that..for the past couple of weeks/months, especially if their new update that affected all the pages).

    I am still using FB though – my personal page (right now, I am trying to connect and engage with other bloggers through my personal account).

    That being said, trending chart does look pretty cool. I am sure that business owners could use (when I saw it first, I thought it was caused by some kind of extension or something….since they didn’t include any topics I was interested in..still don’t..but, there is a remote connection, not enough for me to click on the link).

    Anyways, thank you for sharing this, Jesse :) Hope you are having a great week!

    • Thanks Jeevan!

      I think for topical bloggers like us in the marketing world, the FB Trending feature won’t provide much benefit for our immediate properties. However, for other clients and sites where creatives and strategic content is commonplace, the FB Trending feature should definitely be assimiliated into our promotion campaigns.

      As marketers, we really want to know what the average CTR is for FB Trending links. After the complete roll-out, that’s something I’ll be on the lookout for.

  • Great! I´m just writing a post (in spanish) about this, and in my opinion Facebook doesn’t give us the same opportunities in every release implemented.

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