Facebook Rolls Out Real-Time Tracking

In its latest bid to rival Twitter as a source of breaking news and real-time conversations, Facebook is giving select media outlets the ability to feature users’ public posts in their coverage.

Starting today, Buzzfeed, CNN, NBC’s "Today Show," BSkyB, and Slate will be able to incorporate posts marked “public” by members into their broadcasts or reporting around a given topic. That’s because access to the new “Public Feed” API shows a real-time feed of public posts for a specific word.

In addition, Facebook will allow media partners to show the number of posts about a subject within a certain time frame through a new “Keyword Insights” API. 

“For instance, every week during the ‘What’s Trending’ segment of "The Today Show," NBC can easily include how many people on Facebook talked about a popular subject, where it’s getting the most buzz, whether it’s most popular among males or females, and with which age groups,” wrote Justin Osofsky, vice president, media partnerships and online operations at Facebook, in a blog post Monday.

Providing tools for third-party sites and broadcasters to create public feeds is the latest in a series of recent steps Facebook has taken to challenge Twitter as the Internet’s unofficial newswire. In June, Facebook formally introduced hashtags for aggregating conversations around certain topics. And in August it began allowing individual users and brands to embed public posts from their pages on their own Web sites and blogs.

Facebook is also taking a page from Twitter in testing a “trending” section to highlight the most popular topics surfacing across the social network.

The company is especially keen to catch up with Twitter when it comes to serving as a locus for real-time discussion around TV. To that end, its blog post provided a number of data points making the case for Facebook as a second-screen alternative to the microblogging service. For instance, between 88 million and 100 million U.S. users log in between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., TV’s prime time.

Beyond that, Facebook globally saw 245 million interactions (likes, shares, comments) during the Super Bowl, 125 million during the NBA Finals, and 66.5 million for the Oscars.

“This is a big step in the series of plays Facebook has been making to become part of the social TV landscape,” said Anna Banks, VP, strategy and planning at Organic. While the move is likely to spur more TV-related chatter on Facebook, she suggested the company’s history of privacy stumbles could lead to a short-term backlash.

She said Facebook would do well to make “super transparent” to users what it takes to make posts, comments or likes public or keep private. For brands, on the other hand, Facebook’s ability to provide more sophisticated demographic data than Twitter could prove an advantage as the two companies increasingly go head-to-head.

For its part, Twitter continued its aggressive push into social TV with the acquisition last week of analytics firm Trendrr. The company has also reportedly been in talks with big media players like Viacom and NBC Universal about hosting TV clips on its platform with related advertising.

1 comment about "Facebook Rolls Out Real-Time Tracking".
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  1. Troy Johnson from AALBC.com, LLC, September 10, 2013 at 10:16 a.m.

    I wonder what would happen to this idea if people simply stopped contributing content to Facebook? A longer term strategy for Facebook might be to compensate people, financially, for their contributions to the social platform in proprotion to the advertising revenue generated. Better still, Facebook could provide real-time tracking across actual websites. Of course I appreciate both of these ideas are in the realm of fantasy. But one can dream...

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