Digital & Social Media

Facebook Gets in the News Business

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What Happened: Facebook announced a new feature on Thursday that may start to establish the platform as a space for breaking and current news, much the way Twitter is viewed now. The new feature, which will debut shortly, comes in the form of a trending-topics sidebar on the news feed, titled “Trending.” (Obviously, TRUE agrees it’s a brilliant name.) The feature debuted in the U.S., U.K., Canada, India and Australia (English, presumably the common denominator there) and will be rolled out shortly to the rest of the planet. Facebook is still working on a mobile version. The Trending sidebar will be tailored to each user’s interests in addition to overall trends on the platform and include a short explanation about why a particular topic is trending. This customization differentiates it from Twitter’s news of the moment. The goal: to promote more public sharing and encourage users to look to Facebook as a news source.

What This Means for Brands: This feature opens up a new avenue for brands to reach consumers and other stakeholders based on the trending topics. Besides the potential to link brand news with “of the moment” themes, Trending will provide companies, with the right setup, to monitor breaking news and then create content against it. The trending topics sidebar that a brand sees on its news feed also will be tailored to its industry and “interests,” which will allow companies to connect with a different set of stakeholders, such as regulators, NGOs, employees and even competitors. Because of the customization aspect, this new tool is likely to change branded content in a way that will allow a deeper engagement with target audiences based on issues and “the news.”

Contributing to TRENDING items are Jenna Carter, Sarah Gordon, MaryFrances Hicks and Abby Ray.