Facebook Opens “Topic Data” Firehose To Select Marketers

Facebook is working with DataSift to give U.S. and U.K. businesses insight into what people are talking about on the social network.


Marketers will finally be able to drink from Facebook’s data firehose.

At least some marketers. And perhaps sip is a better way to put it, but Facebook announced today its first deal to open consumer “topic data” to select businesses in the United States and United Kingdom. The new feature will enable marketers to see what Facebook users are saying about topics relevant to their businesses and help them craft more relevant and effective campaigns, Facebook said in a blog post:

Topic data shows marketers what audiences are saying on Facebook about events, brands, subjects and activities, all in a way that keeps personal information private. Marketers use the information from topic data to make better decisions about how they market on Facebook and other channels, and build product roadmaps.

For example, with topic data:

  • A business selling a hair de-frizzing product can see demographics on the people talking about humidity’s effects on their hair to better understand their target audience.
  • A fashion retailer can see the clothing items its target audience is talking about to decide which products to stock.
  • A brand can see how people are talking about their brand or industry to measure brand sentiment.

Up to now most of this type of social data analysis has used Twitter’s more public data, and a host of data interpreting companies have sprung up to serve the market, including Adobe Social, Crimson Hexagon, DataSift and Gnip (which was eventually acquired by Twitter).

Facebook’s data pool is much deeper — the social network’s 1.39 billion base of active users it more than four times the size of Twitter’s — but more tricky to deal with because most Facebook posts are private.

To guard against a privacy backlash, Facebook is emphasizing that the topic data is anonymized and aggregated so no individual users can be identified. The company also said that the data won’t be able to be used for ad targeting.

The data will only be available through partners of DataSift, which will have exclusive access to the topic stream. DataSift has created an API for partners to access the stream and is accepting requests from companies interested in using it. For now, it’s only available to businesses in the U.S. and U.K.

For more information see posts by Facebook and DataSift.


About The Author

Martin Beck is Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, covering the latest news for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. He spent 24 years with the Los Angeles Times, serving as social media and reader engagement editor from 2010-2014. A graduate of UC Irvine and the University of Missouri journalism school, Beck started started his career at the Times as a sportswriter and copy editor. Follow Martin on Twitter (@MartinBeck), Facebook and/or Google+.

(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)


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