They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, in which case Twitter must be blushing as Facebook starts to roll out their ‘Trending’ feature.
Appearing in the top-right column of user’s News Feed, the feature lists the latest popular topics based on user interests, recency of the news and user engagement levels. Having been on the cards since summer last year following the introduction of hashtags and embeddable posts, ‘Trending’ topics is the third Twitter-esque feature to have been adopted by Facebook.
Users in the US, UK, India, Australia and Canada will start to see ‘Trending’ posts appear in their timeline in the next few weeks. Although at this stage the feature is only visible on desktop, Facebook has confirmed developers are working on an app version for mobile and tablet users.
An important difference between Twitter’s and Facebook’s offerings is that Facebook accompanies the trending topic with a headline providing context about why the trend is newsworthy. For example ‘Manchester United F.C.’ as a topic doesn’t reveal much, however accompanied with the headline ‘Chelsea 3 – 1 Manchester United: Eto’o hits hat trick as Blues stroll (ca.sports.yahoo.com)’ the topic becomes more engaging and click-worthy.
Furthermore, clicking a ‘trend’ takes the user through to a page showing related posts by friends and other pages in the characteristic Facebook news feed format.
The feature is further evidence of Facebook’s growing focus on ‘real-time’ news with rumours of a Flipboard-Like newsreader being released later this month called ‘Paper’.
Have you seen the new ‘Trending’ feature? Are you tempted to click through and find out more? With many already grumbling about regurgitated posts, I’m slightly dubious as to whether the original content will be diverse enough to maintain my interest.