Facebook begins trialling ‘topic feeds’ across Australia and New Zealand
Facebook users in Australia and New Zealand may have noticed certain changes to their Facebook accounts over the weekend upon installing the latest update, which introduced options for categorising content into topic-based feeds.
Facebook has not yet released an official statement about the update but some sources have speculated that it is only for testing, and that the company will determine whether the changes are to be made permanent after receiving user feedback.
The new topic feeds now appear at the top of the screen alongside the original News Feed, with headings such as ‘TV & Movies’, ‘Food’ and ‘Relationships’. Although the new algorithm has already automatically selected a handful of topics for users to get them started, there are up to to 26 different categories to choose from. Only four ‘favourites’ display on the home screen, although any of the topics can be viewed by clicking on ‘more’ or the setting symbol and the relevant category.
The update can be seen on both mobile and desktop versions of the site, where the new display and navigation is very similar for both versions. Users are able to manage the feeds according to their own interests, picking not just the categories that they wish to view but also the content within them – that is, the pages and people they wish to see in that feed.
To customise a feed, users are offered a wide range of suggested people and pages and can select and deselect from the options displayed. This means that the content on Facebook pages has already been assigned with a topic, although at this stage it is unknown whether page owners can edit it. The example below show how users can modify the categories to their own interests.
Users can also ‘tag’ their own posts with the relevant topic or topics, although it appears this function is not yet available to Pages.
Unlike the original News Feed, topic feeds display content from friends of friends and other public pages that fall into that category, not just the categorised posts from friends and pages that users have ‘liked’. This presents a unique opportunity for brands to get their content in front of their intended audience, regardless of whether the page has been ‘liked’ or not.
What ‘topic feeds’ mean for your content marketing
While Facebook’s new topic algorithm will automatically label your brand’s content and sort it into a topic feed, this not does not necessarily result in it no longer appearing in the original News Feed.
A Facebook spokesman told Mashable, the well-regarded tech blog, that the new layout does not remove any content from the News Feed.
Without the risk of content being filtered out of the main feed from this update, this poses a number of benefits for brands in terms of visibility and brand exposure, which is of particular value as organic reach on social media continues to decline.