Facebook Still Wants to Be Twitter


"We are committed to building features that improve the experience of discovering and participating in conversations about things happening in the world right now, including entertainment, sports, politics and news." Sounds like something Twitter would say, but it's not Twitter. That's the VP of media partnerships at Facebook , Justin Osofsky.

In a press release yesterday, Facebook announced plans to give tools to a select group of news organizations that allow them to tap into Facebook's public feed. The move is yet another that puts the social network further in Twitter's territory.

The tools
These new tools for surfacing conversations allow BuzzFeed, CNN, NBC's Today, Slate, British Sky Broadcasting, and Mass Relevance to see a list of real-time posts related to specified words. For the news organizations to see these posts, users must have marked them as public.

These media partners are just the first; Facebook plans to add more in the coming weeks.

Osofsky explains the usefulness of the tools:

... 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. For example, CNN's New Day can now easily incorporate what people on Facebook have to say about the latest, breaking news event during their show.

Partners can also use these tools to show the number of Facebook posts that mention a specific word over a period of time, including a demographic breakdown for the people talking about that topic.

The overlap
Five years ago, Twitter introduced hashtags. Media outlets quickly learned to use them to facilitate and identify trending topics. Twitter empowered real-time public conversations. The hashtag was Twitter's golden child.

Trending hashtag promoted in mobile notifications. Source: AllFacebook.

In the last few months, it appears Facebook has set its sights on these public conversations. It began when it adopted the hashtag in June. Then, a few weeks ago, it began testing a "trending" section on its desktop website. And now AllFacebook reports that the "effort has apparently gone mobile, as well." These new tools for surfacing conversations just add to the list of new features that directly target Twitter's realm of expertise.

Although the battle is bitter to watch for Twitter fans, Facebook does look set up to succeed in this arena. Just check out this infographic that Osofsky posted to illustrate the opportunity for public conversations on Facebook.

Source: Facebook Newsroom.

Facebook looks like a community ripe for breaking news, popular topics, and public conversations.

The Wall Street Journal summarizes the purpose of Facebook's recent changes like so: "Facebook is trying to raise its profile as a place where people go to talk about what's happening now." The overlap with Twitter is undeniable.

Can Facebook succeed in Twitter's arena?
It's clear that Facebook is gunning for some of Twitter's success. But will it carry over into the Facebook platform?

As the world goes mobile, how will Facebook fare?
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