Summary:

Facebook’s proprietary metric, People Talking About This, might get a boost for media companies seeking detailed sentiment about their content.

When discussing brand engagement on Facebook, it’s hard to avoid the platform’s focus on “social sentiment.” Facebook stepped its toes into the idea in 2011 with PTAT — a softer, more anecdotal metric that convinced brands to think about the conversations users were having about their brands, rather than just rote click-through rates. Brands have clung to sentiment as a bellwether for reputation on Facebook, so it’s no surprise that the social network is on its way to enhancing conversational sentiment algorithms for media brands and content owners, according to CNET.

Speaking at Le Web in Paris, Chris Daniels, VP of Business Development at Facebook, discussed one of the biggest perceived flaws of sentiment analysis: while Facebook is good at showing how many people are talking about TV, movies and other media on Facebook, the actual conversations users are having about that content remain invisible. Daniels says that the company is working on a way to “surface” that information, and that the company is testing a few new APIs to make it a reality for media companies.

While media conversations are easily indexable on Twitter, where nearly every interaction is searchable by the public, sentiments about content have been considered private on Facebook. Therein lies the rub: While moving from the general PTAT metric down to something that offers a more granular, conversation level will be a boon for media companies seeking insight on their reputation among loyal fans (which Daniels cited in an example of the hyped-up talk around the Game of Thrones “Red Wedding” episode), it might come at the cost of alienating users who do not want any brands observing what are perceived as private conversations with friends.

It’s a fine line to walk, but from Daniels’ feels confident that the tool will be useful for media companies seeking to get a better feel for what makes their content so popular on social media.

UpdateThis article was corrected to clarify that Facebook is allowing this program for solely media partners and content producers.

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