What’s Trending on Facebook: Google Trends, Internet Memes, and the End of Closed Media Platforms

We use a host of media measurement tools at P/O/N, but for the most part, Facebook mentions and content sharing has been largely invisible unless a user chooses to make their Facebook profile default “public.” It’s much easier to search public profiles, but even searching public profiles is messy, so measurements of how much influence a brand has on Facebook has been largely confined to measurements of fans/followers and the number of interactions those fans have with the brand on the page.

As Facebook constantly reinvents its privacy settings, that’s changing. With over 400M users (Facebook’s not-so-far-off goal is to hit the 1B mark in the next few years), what’s happening on Facebook is increasingly of interest and importance to brands who want to track and monitor ads, campaigns, brand recognition, and brand association online.

But now, harnessing the power of the ubiquitous “like” button, a web tracking service called itstrending.com has been compiling information since April about the most shared/liked videos, news stories, blog posts, and images on Facebook. You can even sort the most shared posts and articles by site (for instance, right now the most shared content from the NYTimes as of this writing is a “Grassroots Soccer” slide show).

The site is organized like a “Digg” solution for Facebook. You can search by type of image and by category (sports, comedy, news, etc.). The way the site is currently built, it looks like it only shows you the top 5-8 trending pieces of content in each category. That means this isn’t exactly a robust tool as yet, but I can see how powerful it may become over time, especially if graphing capabilities were added for specific pieces of content, so you could see how many times a link was shared in a day and get quick stats for week, month, year, etc.

There are other uses for this site besides brand measurement, of course. The Internet is vast, and full of Things, so for those folks who don’t have an interest in spending hours and hours online but want to keep up on the latest content being talked about by their peers, this portal can serve as a one-stop shop for witty cocktail conversation – especially if the majority of their peers are Facebook users.

“Did you read that article about…” or “Did you see that video of…” are great conversation starters (of course, if you’re just interested in what’s on the hive mind during a particular day, you can always visit Google Trends ), and if you’re looking for a more comprehensive guide to internet memes since 1982 (for those who are always answering “no” when someone says, “Did you see that thing on the internet…?”) check out the internet memes timeline.

Overall, there’s great potential in itstrending.com. Now it’ll be interesting to see if they can create a more tangible reporting solution for brands, businesses, fact checkers, reporters, and other curious parties, though it may end up doing so by eventually obliterating the final illusions of Facebook privacy. But that’s a subject for another post.

Penny Ohlmann Neimann

The Ohlmann Group has a rich history that began in Dayton, Ohio in 1949, where the agency was founded as Penny and Penny by Bob Penny and his wife Jean. In 1964, Walter Ohlmann joined the firm. Ralph Neiman came on in 1969 and the firm became Penny/Ohlmann/Neiman. In 2011, P/O/N was renamed The Ohlmann Group to better reflect the agency's ongoing evolution and collaborative nature.

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