Facebook introduces new ‘Trending’ feature to make it more sticky

17 Jan 2014

Already the people’s newspaper of sorts, Facebook has begun rolling out a new feature called Trending, which keeps the social network’s users in tune with their favourite topics being talked about at any given time.

Facebook describes the Trending feature as a new way for people to find the things they care about and that their friends are talking about on Facebook, from TV to sports to major news events.

The move could be seen as another effort by Facebook to not only make the social network more sticky and retain users, but to also take on elements of social media that have proved successful for rivals like Twitter, which currently sets the bar for what’s trending online.

Midway through last year, Facebook introduced hashtags on its network for the first time; a staple feature on Twitter for following and sharing trending topics.

Users will see posts in their feed determined as most relevant and engaging content related to the trending topic, including posts from friends, as well as public pages, such as celebrities, public figures and news organisations.

Rolling out today on desktops in the US, UK, Canada, India and Australia, the new service uses an algorithm that highlights topics that have had a sharp increase in popularity as opposed to overall volume for a given subject.

Posts from people or pages a user is connected with will rank higher in the feed and the trends are reflective of what is being talked about by people on Facebook in real-time.

Real-time content discovery engine

“Trending is a new product that’s designed to surface interesting and relevant conversations in order to help you discover the best content from all across Facebook,” wrote engineering manager Chris Struhar in the Facebook blog.

“To the right of your news feed, you’ll see a list of topics that have recently spiked in popularity. The list is personalised, including topics based on things you’re interested in and what is trending across Facebook overall.

“Each topic is accompanied by a headline that briefly explains why it is trending. You can click on any headline to see the most interesting posts from your friends or Pages that are talking about that particular topic. 

“Trending is currently rolling out on web in select countries and we are going to continue to test it on mobile. As with other features, expect continuous improvements from us over time,” Struhar added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years