Last week, Facebook announced that it’s going to be rolling out a new feature that will make it easier to procrastinate at work find popular conversations on the social network. This feature, called Trending, has already started rolling out to users in “select countries” on the web version of Facebook. Availability on mobile and in other countries is coming soon.

So, what is this Trending thing about?
Trending is a new section in the top right corner of your Facebook home screen that displays several topics that have seen a sharp rise in popularity recently. It changes every few hours, adding new topics and going through a rotation of the topics available when you click “see more”. When you click on a topic that interests you, you’ll be taken to a feed of all the activity on Facebook surrounding that topic – posts by your friends, pages, and by other users that are relevant to the topic. This is helpful because it helps you get a pretty well-rounded view on the topic from a wide variety of sources.

Wait, how is this different from Twitter’s trending feature?
While the purpose it serves it largely the same, Facebook’s trending feature does differ from Twitter’s in a couple of ways. The LA Times boils it down into two main differences:

– Personalization: Your trending list will be different from someone else’s, because it will include topics that relate (somewhat) to you based on the interests you’ve expressed on Facebook.

– Summarization: As opposed to Twitter’s river of results, Facebook’s trending list has both a headline and a summary of the topic. It tells you not only that a topic is trending, but also why it is trending.

How will Trending help me market my small business?
While Trending could probably still use some tweaking in terms of the relevance of the topics it displays, it could prove to be a really useful feature for small business marketers who have planned to incorporate content marketing tactics into their marketing plans this year.

Review: content marketing is the practice of regularly generating relevant, high-quality content that draws potential customers to your website and social networks and establishes your credibility.

It’s important that the content you generate on your blog, website, and social media platforms is both engaging and relevant to your audience. To help keep you on track and get your ideas for the future down before you forget them, we do recommend that you keep an editorial calendar. However, it’s also important to pepper in timely, newsworthy topics with your content plans. This not only makes it more likely that people will find your content when they’re searching for a popular topic, it also means they’re more likely to engage with it. When users on Facebook engage by liking, commenting or sharing, the EdgeRank algorithm takes notice and displays your content to more of your followers.

How does this benefit marketers? By showing you which topics are popular on Facebook, Trending is dropping ideas for content right into your lap. Now, you might have to get creative to figure out how to make some of the topics relevant to your business and your audience, but you can do it. Try to write a blog post or a Facebook status about a trending topic at least once and week and see what kind of results you get.

Another benefit, which is a bit more obvious, is that if you post on Facebook about a trending topic, your followers are likely to see your post show up in the trending topic’s feed when they click on the headline. More chances for likes, comments, and shares!

It will be interesting to see how the Trending feature evolves over time and how marketers are able to incorporate it into their content strategies. Hopefully the algorithm responsible for selecting the topics for each user will get a little more specific with time. I don’t think I’ll be writing any articles based on my trending topics today, since I’m not sure my readers are too interested in Alison Sweeney leaving Days of Our Lives or how Spanx hosiery is squeezing women’s organs too tightly. But then again…

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Online Content Specialist and resident blogger at Pagemodo. Loves social media, branding, whales. Get more from Sarah on Pagemodo’s Blog and Google+.

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