Oliver Chiang reports on a new feature being tested by Facebook that he dubs ‘mentions’. It tells you if more than one of your friends mentions the same thing – a celebrity, for example, or an event, or organisation.
I’ve often said that Facebook is the ultimate news publisher. ‘What my friends are doing’ was powerful enough, and they have since expanded their editorial proposition (with Pages) into ‘What companies and personalities I am interested in are doing’ too. The ‘mentions’ feature appears to extend that concept further, essentially identifying what is a ‘talking point’ in your social circle and circles of interest, and bringing that to your attention.
That is, of course, one of the things that journalists do.
Of additional interest are the obvious commercial applications of this technology. In fact, the focus at the moment on linking these ‘talking points’ to official ‘Pages’ drives that commercial application home rather forcefully. This overly-commercial application may in fact be a weakness – and it will be interesting to see if it is tweaked before being rolled out (Facebook’s history suggests they are more likely to tweak it than withdraw it).
In the meantime, publishers should be watching closely to see how advertisers respond to the potential of ‘mentions’ – and if there is any way they might adapt similar ideas for their own users and advertisers.