Facebook has announced the addition of a new feature called Trending Topics to the home page. This feature is not available to everyone yet, but you will find it on the right side of your timeline, just under your birthday and event notifications.
I was hoping that Trending would incorporate the use of popular hashtags, similar to how Twitter uses trending hashtags and words. It doesn’t look like this is the case for Facebook.
According to Facebook, “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.”
Twitter determines Trends, “…by an algorithm and are tailored for you based on who you follow and your location. This algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help you discover the hottest emerging topics of discussion on Twitter that matter most to you.”
For a comparison, I took two screen shots of both Twitter and Facebook Trending Topics at the same time and then an hour later. As you can see, there is quite a difference between the two, with Facebook giving big brands and news feeds the edge here and very few hashtags (if any) are in the Facebook updates. The Facebook Trending Topics really don’t change at all except for the order they are listed. On Twitter, new trending topics are included after an hour.
As usual with Facebook, this feature will evolve and change. They even state “Trending is currently rolling out on web in select countries and we are going to continue to test on mobile. As with other features, expect continuous improvements from us over time.”
Clearly when Facebook rolled out hashtags last year, there was no plan in place on how to utilize this data. This is Facebook’s initial test to include Trends, but it still needs improvement. If you are looking for true trending topics that are happening at the moment, Facebook Trending Topics is not the place to go. Twitter dominates that area.
In the meantime, I suggest you implement a hashtag strategy across all your social media platforms to aid in search and trends. This will be the way content is found and wll have more prominence going forward. I provide step by step instructions on how to do this in 7 Steps to Using Hashtags in Your Social Media Strategy.