Home » OPINION » Columns » TODD SMITH — Facebook challenges Google, Twitter on Real Time News

TODD SMITH — Facebook challenges Google, Twitter on Real Time News



Facebook is ready to challenge Google and Twitter for control of real-time news search and the news itself. With a recent rollout to U.S. English language users, Facebook Search returns anything you’re allowed to see from its 2 trillion posts. That includes public posts by all people and Pages, not just your friends and Pages you Like as before.

The personalized results will be broken up to highlight posts from trusted news sources, followed by people in your network, lists of the most popular links or quotes about a topic, and then strangers.

Similar to how Twitter Search works, this move unlocks all the news and chatter shared on Facebook around big news stories and live events, but with a more human focus.

Not only could this make Facebook a place people look for perspectives on the news, It could in turn inspire more people to post publicly about what’s happening in the world, since there will be more ways to discover that content than in the feed.

Plus, as Google has proven, search queries indicate intent, which can be used to sell highly lucrative keyword advertising in sponsored search results.

Facebook’s VP of Search Tom Stocky admitted to me that it’s not focused on monetization yet, but “Because the business model for search is so well understood, we know it will come when it makes sense.” Considering Facebook already processes 1.5 billion search a day, there’s plenty of chances to earn some money.

Evolving Towards Complete Search

Facebook search began as just a way to find potential friends or visit their profiles. Then Graph Search let you find businesses, photos, and movies on the web, and later mobile (it will still work). Finally late last year, Facebook’s engineering team surmounted the massive challenge of indexing all the individual posts to enable keyword search. But results only included posts that could have appeared in your News Feed.

Along the way, Facebook experimented with some search ads, like showing competing games when you searched for a specific game like FarmVille. But Facebook eventually shut those tests down as it concentrated on making a search experience people wanted to use again and again.

This update gives Facebook a holistic internal search engine. Before, it was good for nostalgia, looking up funny things friends said or cool photos they posted. Now, it’s a discovery engine for real-time news that’s just slipped out of the future into the present.

Not Just A List Of Mentions

To help familiarize users, the search drop-down typeahead will now suggest popular keyword strings that complete what you were searching for, while matching people or things will appear below them. Once you’ve chosen one or entered, you’ll get a results page personalized based on around 200 factors including what you Like and engage with, what you’ve searched for, and info about your identity.

Rather than just give you an unadulterated list of the most relevant links or mentions like Google, or highlights or live feed of chatter like Twitter, Facebook breaks up its results screen into several sections as you scroll down.

To give you an overview of the news, Facebook first surfaces a summary of a topic when possible. Then it shows mentions by trusted news sources like Fox News. A special Facebook team that looks at engagement, spam reports, and more determines a reputation score for each outlet or reporter, which the search engine uses to rank posts.

Because what friends are saying is often interesting, posts by people and groups from your network are displayed next. Then there are aggregated counts of the most popular links related to the topic, almost like a tiny Digg inside Facebook. Finally, the public posts by people you don’t know are shown, but ranked to seem as relevant to you as possible.

If You Can Search It, They Will Post

The new public search feature could combat criticism that Facebook is just an echo chamber. While Twitter seems like the default place to share those kind of thoughts today, if people get engagement on their public posts from Facebook Search, they might be more inclined to pontificate on the app’s global stage.

The advent of web search caused a massive shift in what content people produced, specifically indexable websites. Now for Facebook and real-time news search, more news will be shared by more people to a broader Facebook audience.

Twitter Targets Brands With Its New Analytics Hub

In keeping with the trend of expanding its analytics capabilities, Twitter is catering to its advertiser base with Twitter Brand Hub. It is designed to track conversation in real time and gather data on tweets that mention their brand and products.

Currently available to select big-name brand advertisers and medium-size businesses, the service is intended to examine audience responses to large campaigns. “Brand Hub helps advertisers quickly understand their brand’s share of conversation, key audiences, and trends about their brand’s conversation,” Twitter wrote in a blog post. “This 360-degree, real-time view gives the brand the opportunity to learn, take action, and see the impact of their initiatives on Twitter.”

Twitter has also created a new feature called TrueVoice, which will “help advertisers track their share of conversation in real time.” TrueVoice will indicate what percentage of people are talking about the brand in question—along with how much chatter belongs to rival companies.

As Twitter continues to augment its internal analytics tools—including making that data available to users—it makes sense that it would offer detailed metrics to brands, a service that many advertisers are likely paying for elsewhere. What remains to be seen, however, is whether Twitter can provide meaningful information that will actually help brands improve their campaign strategies; up until last year, the company didn’t even open up its analytics dashboard to non-advertisers.

Golden Mic | Ted Cruz, GOP Presidential Candidates Bash Biased Media

Republican presidential candidates — led by an agitated Ted Cruz — tore into CNBC’s moderators in the latest GOP debate, issuing the sharpest attacks on the mainstream media of the 2016 election cycle.

Sen. Cruz accused the moderators of trying to instigate a cage match, Sen. Marco Rubio called the media a super PAC for Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump slammed the “ridiculous questions.”

The candidates took to the airwaves following the debate and continued to rip CNBC for the tone and substance of the debate. And in the days ahead, sources said, campaign representatives will air their grievances to the Republican National Committee.

The campaigns found a sympathetic ear in RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who blasted CNBC t for asking “gotcha” questions and said the network “should be ashamed.”

The candidates’ attacks on the media were red meat for the conservative base, which already has a deep mistrust of the mainstream press. But even by conservative standards, the candidates’ broadsides were aggressive and unrelenting, and delighted the audience in Boulder, Colo. The Spin Cycle’s take on the CNBC moderators, are they came to the debate with a decidedly biased agenda – a stark contrast to the media’s treatment during the Democratic debate. For that, Ted Cruz and the GOPers get a Golden Mic & CNBC gets a Short-Circuited, Tarnished, Biased Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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