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Facebook’s Topic Data: What You Need to Know
by Caroline Crawford | June 24, 2015 | eCommerce, Facebook, Sharing and Referrals, Social Login | 0 comments

In March, Facebook launched Topic Data, which is a new service that lets brands better understand topics Facebook users discuss, which brands and products they use, and which activities they follow. It will allow marketers to sift through large amounts of data, and Facebook users cannot opt out of it.

All Facebook Topic data will be anonymized and aggregated before advertisers see it. A company called DataSift is providing the API for delivery of Topic Data to advertisers. It’s in limited rollout now, and is currently only available to US and UK businesses. Companies interested in using the service may send a request to DataSift.

What Can Businesses Expect Once They Start Using Facebook Topic Data?

If all goes as planned, Topic Data will offer five capabilities that will make it unique to marketers:

  • Sentiment analysis
  • Topic classification
  • Custom taxonomies
  • Spam classification (to filter noise from interactions)
  • Emotional intent (a potential game changer for Facebook marketing)

How Is It Different from Facebook’s Graph API and Other Social Media Data?

For one thing, there is simply more data volume from Facebook (which has 1.3 billion users) than from anywhere else. Demographic data will let advertisers understand audiences talking about a topic. This is harder to do with data from other social platforms. Posts will be classified in real time into Facebook Open Graph, so it’s easy to analyze topics emerging from the millions of posts, comments, and likes going on at any time. The data is structured, and will offer over 60 attributes for analysis.

Facebook has made this type of data available before, but sample sizes weren’t large enough to have sufficient validity. Unlike Facebook Graph API, which was removed after April 2015, Topic Data offers aggregate-level analysis of both public and non-public posts (which are anonymized). Facebook Graph API only used posts that Facebook users marked as “Public.”

How Might Businesses Use Facebook Topic Data?

Businesses will be able to use Topic Data to learn about what people on Facebook are saying, doing, and using. Because the sample size is so large, results should be accurate enough to allow brands to customize their messaging better, because they’ll be able to spot trends sooner. For example, an ecommerce clothing retailer might use Facebook Topic Data to learn which articles of clothing its target audience is generating buzz about to get a better idea of what products to stock. It should also be a good way for brands to learn what users’ brand sentiment is.

How Do You Access It?

Right now, Facebook Topic Data is in limited release to select Facebook marketers. There’s no set time frame when most marketers can expect to have access. Data currently is only available through DataSift Partners, who have been granted access to the topic stream. DataSift has created a partner API, and brands interested in Topic Data should contact DataSift for more information. Topic Data will be available for 30-day rolling windows, starting when you begin recording. Data will be updated to the minute.

How Could Your Business Benefit from Facebook Topic Data?

Brands should note that Topic Data provides marketing guidance, but it cannot be used to target ads directly the way Facebook custom audiences can. Topic Data will consist of information from no fewer than 100 Facebook users so marketers can be confident of sample size. Brands that use Topic Data should be able to use it to become more attuned to consumers’ concerns. Facebook algorithm changes in recent years has caused organic reach of brand pages to decline. Topic Data, however, should allow brands to use new metrics to identify audiences and create relevant content to recover from some of that decline. Leveraging the power of this data can boost your social commerce efforts so you can better target your customers that actively use Facebook. Understanding the value of this data and finding the best way to apply it to tools, such as Facebook Contests, Post-Purchase Sharing, and Social Login using Facebook, enhances your customers’ brand experience and enables you to better connect and communicate with your shoppers.

Facebook Topic Data is something new, and it could have a big impact. Though brands won’t be able to use it to target advertising, the large amount of structured data could provide brands with more precision in targeting content than the “blunt instrument” tools that have been available before. If nothing else, it will give advertisers a new way to monitor the overall social media conversation and potentially make it easier to spot trends and popular topics as soon as they show up on the social radar. This valuable information paired with social commerce solutions can help you provide a unique and engaging customer experience that will attract new customers and keep your current ones coming back.

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