Thursday, 6 October 2011

Facebook launches 'are talking about this' metric

Did anybody else noticed the new 'are talking about this' metric on Facebook Pages?

After the sad news about Steve Jobs, I entered today on the Facebook page dedicated to him. Beneath the 'Like this' metric, there is a new one now and it's called 'are talking about this'.

It surely looks like a promissing metric: I personally have 'liked' a lot of pages, which I haven't visited since, so 'are talking about' sounds like a more 'active' metric.
A bit of googling around shows that Facebook announced the change this week and implemented today.

How is the metric defined?

Facebook told in an email earlier this week that the metric would be defined like this:

“People Talking about this” counts ‘stories” – structured content that people choose to share through Facebook that is eligible to appear in a user’s news feed:

• liking your Page
• posting to your Page’s Wall
• liking, commenting or sharing one of your Page posts (or other content on your page – like photos, videos, albums)
• answering a Question you posted, RSVP-ing to one of your events
• mentioning your Page, phototagging your Page
• liking or sharing a check-in deal, or checking in at your Place.

Why is this interesting?

It's important for Search: as already pointed out in this brilliant post of BlindFiveYearOld, the new Facebook design from a couple of weeks ago includes an actual redefinition of Search. Facebook is very ready to compete with Google and has now moved towards 'social search': based on what pages we visit, web-content we read and share and even what songs we listen to on Spotify or what we watch on Netflix, Facebook indexes the web based on our social action and the way we use internet.

Facebook is already showing search-results outside Facebook. Here's an example of external links:

They also show songs from Spotify, like in this example.  

The metric is public: like pointed out in this post, the metric is public. This shows Facebook-users a new way of the 'relevant pages' on Facebook, i.e. where the people are, which is another way of saying, what content is socially relevant.
It also shows companies and Facebook page owners how good they are doing. For instance, the Facebook page of my main competitor has more than twice my 'are talking about this' metric. Bugger!

The metric is good for content: marketing people like me will have to focus more on what's relevant, not just on the people who like my page to get an occasional discount and never come back to my page.

Facebook competing with Twitter: there are already a lot of 'action-based' social metrics for Twitter, like trending topics. Now facebook, together with the 'subsribe button', competes directly with Twitter.

So, well done for Facebook, and thanks for this. We'll still have to see some more detail on this metric and it's definition: for instance, does phototagging count twice as much as someone sharing of the page?
The metric can can also evolve of course. It doesn't seem real-time for now. For instance, the Steve Jobs page has had the same 7883 are talking about metric this whole morning. But it can certainly move upwards & onwards.

[Quick update on 07/10/2011 - seems like the metric is updated daily. For instance today Steve Jobs' page has '394.990 are talking about', coming from 7.883 yesterday, and it has been during the whole morning]

For more about this you can read here in SearchEngineLand.

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