Facebook partners with news organizations to boost real-time relevancy
By Chantal Tode
September 10, 2013
Facebook is looking for greater real-time relevancy
Facebook is stepping up its efforts for greater real-time relevancy with new tools intended to make it easier for news organizations such as CNN to leverage the social conversations around the day’s news.
Several Facebook media partners have access to two new Facebook APIs enabling them to tap into the social network’s public feed so they can see a real-time list of posts related to certain keywords. News organizations will also be able to see a demographic breakdown of who is posting.
“Facebook's move into public, real-time content is tremendously important,” said George Manas, director of client strategy and development at Resolution Media, Chicago. “As the largest social network, and with more than 80 million U.S. users reported to be logged on during primetime TV hours, the platform has significant scale.
“Add to that the fact that Facebook has more than 100 million U.S. users active on mobile daily, and you have an audience unprecedented in terms of both size and accessibility,” he said.
“Mobile provides Facebook users the ability to engage with what is happening around the world in real-time, as they live their lives, just as they would updates from friends and family. Mobile serves as the world in their pocket, making engagement opportunities with content more real-time than ever before.”
Using the Public Feed API, participating news organizations will be able to incorporate what Facebook users have to say about the day’s news in their own content.
The Keyword Insights API will enable news organizations to show the number of Facebook posts that mention a specific word over a period of time as well as a demographic breakdown of the users talking about that topic.
Participating media partners at launch include Buzzfeed, CNN, NBC’s Today Show, BSkyB and Slate.
The stream available to news organizations will contain only those posts made public by Facebook users.
The news is the latest move by Facebook to build a stronger real-time content offering along the lines of what Twitter does.
For example, in June, Facebook rolled out hashtags, a service available on Twitter for years, as a way to easily group tweets on related topics.
Facebook has also reportedly been testing a trending section on its desktop and mobile Web sites for giving more prominence to popular topics, another service that has been available on Twitter for some time.
These moves show how Facebook wants to boost awareness with marketers that its users are engaging in conversations about their favorite television shows, sporting events and the latest news.
For example, last week’s kick-off of the NFL season garnered over 20 million "Likes," comments and shares on Facebook by more than eight million people, according to the company.
The news is an important step for Facebook as it continues to try to build out mobile social offerings for marketers.
“More and more, TV viewers are watching their favorite shows and posting about them in real-time, spurring conversations with their friends and family,” said Todd Herrold, senior director of product marketing for Kenshoo Social, San Francisco.
“Facebook can help marketers capitalize on these opportunities with keyword targeting options serving ads and other content to any users engaging in these conversations while they are at their peak interest levels,” he said.
One of Facebook’s strengths in the area of real-time content is its ability to act as a recommendations platform.
“Because of the friends-and-family-mindset of Facebook users, it feels natural as a recommendation platform,” Mr. Herrold said.
“Twitter is working diligently to offer new options for marketers, but because of the completely public nature of the platform it’s less likely that users will seek recommendations on products and services from the network,” he said.
“Facebook also offers deeper targeting capabilities than Twitter with marketers able to target content by demographic, interest, custom audiences and so on."
The challenge for Facebook centers on how to make real-time posts and trending topics accessible and digestible for the entire user base when users can specify individual privacy settings.
The different user mindset on Facebook compared to Twitter, which is a 100 percent public platform, also means things like hash tags and trending topics do not feel as native to the former as they do to the latter.
“If Facebook can figure out how to fundamentally alter the user experience to better incorporate these tools without disrupting their core audience, they’re well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity,” Mr. Herrold said. “Graph Search shows their initial efforts to engage users in real-time can be successful, but they’ve still got a ways left to go."
But perhaps Facebook’s biggest challenge is Twitter’s existing role as the go-to real-time social media network.
“Facebook will have to compel not only their user base but also their partners across the media landscape in order to drum up attention and desire for real-time Facebook content versus Twitter, which has clearly been the leader here,” Resolution Media’s Mr. Manas said.
“Convincing consumers to turn to Facebook rather than Twitter for real-time content is not a task to take lightly, but then again there is probably nobody better positioned than Facebook to pose that challenge to Twitter,” he said.
For both Twitter and Facebook, real-time content will continue to become more important as smartphone adoption continues to increase.
“Facebook is a great platform to tell a story, one that often incorporates multiple posts in a variety of different ways and is told over time,” said Aaron Everson, chief operating officer/president of Shoutlet, Madison, WI. “Facebook users are responding well to this and are looking to it as a way to easily connect with a brand to share their thoughts and opinions.
“Because each user's newsfeed is dynamically presented, as it stands now, 'real-time' can be difficult to achieve on Facebook because of back-end algorithms that prioritize posts based on interest, not time,” he said. “Twitter, on the other hand, is a stream of real-time data and content.
“Right now they serve two different types of behaviors: Facebook as a robust engagement tool and Twitter as a content-absorption tool. That will change, of course, and I'm looking forward to watching how both networks evolve as much as everyone else.”
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
- Trackback url: http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/trackback/16126-1