Taking a Bite Out of Facebook Topic Data

Facebook introduced topic data for advertisers in March, and marketers have taken varied approaches to using the feature.

Facebook introduced topic data for advertisers in March, and marketers have taken varied approaches to using the feature.

Nikhil Nawathe (right), a researcher for Facebook’s Creative Shop and marketing science teams, recently spoke about some of those uses at the Print and Digital Research Forum in London, and Facebook IQ shared his remarks. Highlights follow:

Our research ranged from topic-level analysis for a subject like food to whether brand mentions could be used as a signal for existing brand measurement approaches. For example, could a campaign brand mention be compared to a Nielsen Brand Effect test?

Overall, we saw that interactions on Facebook were similar to what we know happens offline. However, understanding online topic data is much more complicated than just counting interactions.

When we analyzed interactions about food on Facebook, women made up a larger share of its volume. Because of audience biases, it was important for us to understand how much more this audience segment was talking about food compared to other topics. We call this normalization. We normalized for these biases in our analysis.

When we split the volume of interactions by age and gender, we saw that the audience composition skewed more heavily toward millennial women. Taking the audience skew into account, we saw that there were certain topics around which women interacted more, such as nutrition and wellness (first word cloud below). Meanwhile, men interacted more about chefs and recipes (second word cloud below). We also saw trends in how different age groups discussed these topics. For example, there were more interactions on the topic of chefs and recipes for younger people, while older people interacted about farm-to-table. Nutrition and wellness was a common subject across all age groups. While these are useful insights for a marketer, we can dig even deeper into the data. For example, when we look at chefs, recipes and ingredients, we can see the age pattern was consistent between women and men from 18 to 65 with a spike for mid-20- and mid-30-year-olds. But if we look at the age patterns for women and men separately, the topic of nutrition and wellness peaks in volume for young women and is fairly consistent for men across all ages.

NutritionAndWellnessWordCloud ChefsRecipesIngredientsWordCloud

Keeping the nuances of the data in mind, I see that there is an opportunity for topic data to help inform how marketers develop their creative strategy. It can be used to help explore and expand their creative process. A marketer could use the insights from topic data to determine if there are audience segments outside of the core target that should also be exposed to the campaign. The insights from the data also allow marketers to develop a deeper understanding of their consumers, which can help them tailor their creative assets and messaging to better resonate with their target consumer.

Readers: What did you think of Nawathe’s comments about Facebook topic data?

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.