December 13, 2016

Testing Underlines the Importance of Facebook Topic Data

Facebook Topic Data is perhaps the most important, yet underestimated sea of consumer data in existence. One notable C-level executive at a social listening software company told me recently that they weren’t focusing on Facebook Topic Data much because their clients didn’t show much interest in it.

I, for one, hope that changes quickly. And the reason is simple math.

In several separate tests over the last six months, we at Conversation Research Institute have entered standard brand and topic queries into popular social listening platforms. Our testing included NetBase, Nuvi, Brandwatch, Sysomos and Mention. In each of our tests, we looked at how many conversations over a given time period surfaced, then we input the exact same search threads into a Facebook Topic Data search to compare.

Almost to a decimal place, we could predict how many conversations would surface on Facebook based on the number of conversations we found on the open web. Would be surprised to hear that Facebook is nearly 1.5 times as many?

That’s right. According to our testing over around a dozen or so different terms, Facebook accounts for around 60% of the online conversation. In some cases, it’s even higher.

A recent search conducted for a client in the pest control industry turned up 58,000 interactions on Facebook in the time frame of Nov. 22 until Dec. 12. When you use Facebook Topic Data, the validity of the posts you receive is managed by DataSift — Facebook’s exclusive data provider. What that means is they do the disambiguation to ensure the posts you get are the posts you want, rather than ones that include irrelevant topics.

Out of those 58,000 interactions, we estimate that only about 10% of them are irrelevant — those not caught by DataSift’s processing. (In all fairness, two articles that were shared in the period included references to politicians, lawyers and even a religious group as “termites” which is difficult to eliminate without manual analysis.)

However, in that same period of time, searching the open web for the same exact Boolean thread, we found 8,690 mentions. Some 4,560 of them were on Twitter with Reddit (352) coming in a distant second. And those numbers do not factor in disambiguation (meaning the open web search would net far fewer results).

Twitter is the darling of the social analytics industry because it’s free and open to analyze. Facebook is a walled garden that protects its users’s posts from one-by-one cataloging and analysis by the social media softwares of the world. While the challenge exists that Facebook Topic Data does not provide post-level data, meaning you can’t index and analyze every single post individually, the sheer volume of conversation makes it important.

But make no mistake about it: Facebook is where most online conversations happen. And Facebook Topic Data is going to be essential research fodder for anyone interested in understanding their customers.

Need help finding and analyzing Facebook Topic Data for your company? Drop us a line. We would love to help you understand the conversation.

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