Facebook takes after Twitter with new 'trending' feature

Topics cannot be sponsored or promoted 'at this time,' the company said

Facebook's new trending section is meant to surface popular topics on the site.

Facebook's new trending section is meant to surface popular topics on the site.

Facebook has launched "trending," a new feature designed to surface popular topics being talked about on the site, in a move that increases its rivalry with Twitter, and, eventually, could also increase its advertising revenue.

The feature will appear as a new section to the right side Facebook users' main "news feed" page, Facebook said Thursday. The word "trending" will appear at the top, and underneath it any number of topics might appear, based the level of activity posts about those topics have received.

Trending emphasizes posts from people's friends and public pages such as news organizations, celebrities and public figures, the company said. The feature is designed to be personalized, so topics you've told Facebook you're interested in, and your existing connections, will be factored into what's trending.

The trending algorithm will also weigh sharp increases in popularity for posts, rather than overall volume. In other words, just because "lunch" is talked about during lunchtime every day around the world, it will not be displayed in the trending section, Facebook said.

As of Thursday the feature appeared to be working as advertised. For instance, in one user's feed, the Academy Awards ranked high, though it was below "Bruce Springsteen," presumably because that musician was included in the user's "likes." Clicking on either of those headlines takes the user to a landing page where posts about that topic appear in a feed. Posts from people's connections rank higher in the feed.

With the feature, Facebook gains a tool that could help to keep people coming back to and engaged with its site. And if the digital real estate gathers enough attention from users, Facebook could use it to grow its advertising sales dramatically.

Trending topics cannot be sponsored or promoted at this time, a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement.

Twitter's trending bar offers a function similar to Facebook's, although the more public nature of Twitter means that that company's tool could catch more topics. Twitter already charges marketers to have topics from them appear in its trending bar, with the posts being marked as "promoted."

But whether Facebook can make serious money from its trending feature is hard to predict -- it depends on whether users actually pay attention to the topics it shows. Facebook, like Twitter, also has incorporated hashtags into its service. The tool is meant to let users more easily find posts around certain topics, but a recent study showed that hashtags had little or no viral impact.

Facebook's trending feature started rolling out Thursday on the desktop to users in the U.S., U.K., Canada, India and Australia. Facebook said it would continue to test the feature on mobile devices.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Internet-based applications and servicessocial networkingtwittersocial mediainternetFacebook

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?