They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so Twitter must have done something right if Facebook keeps copying its features.
Back in August, Facebook tried to implement Trending Topics on the web and mobile, a feature very similar to the one created by Twitter. Yesterday, the social network started rolling out a final version of this feature, but only for Facebook users residing in US, UK, Canada, India and Australia. The list of the most mentioned words and phrases of the moment is personalized to fit each user’s interests. Probably the best thing about the Trending box located in the sidebar is that there’s also a short explanation about why a topic is so hot at a given time.
Should a user decide to click on any of the hot topics, he will be taken to a page with mentions by friends, public posts and Pages that permit others to follow them. All in all, Facebook decision to implement a Trending section on their website might be good, as this way, the social network could become a reliable source of news for current events.
By including short explanations next to each hot topic, Facebook managed to differentiate itself from Twitter. In the case of the latter, the reasons why a particular hashtag is trending on a specific day may be unknown. Providing a context for a certain trend makes a world of difference, which shows that Facebook is capable of building on the ideas it gets from other social networks.
As with other features (Suggested Posts, for example), Facebook might not be able to pinpoint the hot topics depending on a user’s interests. If the Trending section is dynamic, it should improve with time, but until then, don’t be scared if Facebook lists a lot of trending news from sports, when you’re not at all into such things.
In the upcoming weeks, Facebook from the aforementioned countries will be able to see the Trending box when visiting their News feed. At the same time, the social network will continue testing a mobile version of this feature. It is yet unknown when users from the other countries will benefit from this, but I assume it shouldn’t take long. I’m pretty sure that Facebook also takes into consideration the country users set in their profiles when providing access to this feature, so using a proxy server from those countries may not suffice.