Facebook News Feed Topic Groups Also Impact Advertisers

By Renee Revetta | Aug 12, 2011
More Articles by Renee

Facebook released a new feature that groups status updates on your News Feed by topic. Have you noticed this change yet? Here’s a snapshot:The example above grouped friends’ updates that included something about James Madison University (JMU). Facebook is looking a level further than just the update – otherwise it wouldn’t have known that “JMU Dukes” was connected to the “James Madison University Page” (linked to from the headline). Facebook also must have seen that my Facebook friends in the second part of this group either work or went to James Madison University.

So as a Facebook user, does this make your News Feed more relevant? For Business Pages, this could be a great update, helping you get more visibility by placing a link to your Page with other relevant posts.

Something to keep in mind though – Facebook isn’t measuring sentiment. So people could be talking about how awful something is, and a Business Page link could appear in the headline of the topic updates.

From AdWeek:

Facebook said that it will use natural language processing to match words in posts to the relevant brand pages. But the company told Inside Facebook that its natural language processing won’t be able to detect sentiment, how a Page’s name is being used, or whether the mentioned Page was actually the focus of the update—meaning that Facebook could include posts trashing a brand or updates where that brand isn’t even relevant.

The below screenshot shows a quick example of different post sentiments all clumped into the topic group:


I spotted a conversation on Twitter (below), pointing out that these grouped topics or interests from the News Feed were now also available to advertisers – meaning advertisers can run ads targeted to different topics, which will most likely have those corresponding ads appear on the Facebook interface when someone’s News Feed includes that topic.

I tested it out to see if I also had access to the Interest  targeting – and there it was!

My friend and fellow Facebook advertiser, @MerryMorud asked her Facebook rep, who said Facebook #Interests target whole topics eg: #MichaelJackson (MJ) = I love MJ, MJ Music, MJ This is It etc…

With mixed feelings as a community manager AND Facebook advertiser, I look forward to how this develops. While advertisers might be able to target much larger groups of people more easily, will it really be a more targeted audience? Feel free to post any developments below or to extend the conversation, find me on Twitter @ReneeRevetta.

PS – If you’re going to be at FedEd tonight for the game, tweet me ;) Go Steelers!


This has been clarified directly by my Facebook rep:

“Topic targeting aggregates sets of overlapping interests into single, targetable topics (indicated by a hash sign), allowing you to easily reach more of your desired audience no matter how the users have chosen to express their interests. For example, the “#Lady Gaga” topic captures users connected to interests such as “Lady Gaga”, “Lady Gaga Music”, “Lady Gaga Poker Face”, “I love Lady Gaga”, etc., under a single term, so you don’t have to select all of the variations individually.”

Also, a fun tidbit showing Facebook confusion about the use of the word “Apple.”

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