Facebook encourages users to connect to global conversation

Facebook integrates with news outlets

Facebook will soon enable media outlets to track conversations on the social networking site in real time.

The update, revealed today is in an effort to show it is as much a hub for real time stories as Twitter, by enabling media outlets to integrate conversations into their live newsfeeds. This follows the announcement earlier this year, that Facebook was incorporating the use of hashtags onto the network to promote a wider conversation for topics such as sports, news and television programmes.

Tracking the conversation

Starting today Facebook is making a set of tools available to help publishers track the conversation as it takes place. The Keyword Insight API will show the real time use of a specific word in public posts, while the Public Feed API enables the media outlets to categorise the conversation demographically.

In the US, the peak user hours are between 8pm and 11pm when an average of 88 and 100 million people are logged on to the social network; prime time television viewing hours.

The tools will allow media organisations to collect and sort data according to gender, age and location while the source of the information remains anonymous. Only those posts from a page or profile with the follow option that have been made public will be accessible using the APIs.

A simpler way to connect

The update will connect significant discussions happening on Facebook with news and media outlets, as Twitter already does with channels such as Comedy Central and the BBC.

When releasing the news today the corporation stated: "Starting today, selected news organizations can begin to integrate Facebook conversations into their broadcasts or coverage by displaying public posts of real-time activity about any given topic."

The aim of the recent updates is to encourage real-time conversations in the same manner users communicate en-masse via Twitter's trending topics; allowing advertisers to better target their key demographic.

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword said: "Hashtags have yet to take off on Facebook as they did on Twitter but from a marketing perspective these tools should prove exceedingly useful, particularly the keyword insight API."