Facebook's monthly Hot Topics reports are a great source of insight into who's talking about what across the world's largest social network. While much of Facebook's data is walled in via individual privacy settings and parameters, Facebook's able to present a full breakdown of the top issues, including which demographic groups were most interested in each, through the use of anonymized data - and that insight can prove extremely helpful for marketers in determining what topics are resonating amongst which groups, helping them better tap into the trends most relevant to their target audiences.
And now, Facebook's taken them a step further. While they've removed the conversational peaks charts which had been included in previous versions of their monthly Hot Topics reports, Facebook has now added Instagram data into the mix, highlighting the key issues of interest among the visual platform's audience - which, in itself, now boats more than 400 million members. This is a great and welcome addition, and will no doubt boost the value of these monthly reports even more - just having oversight of what's generating the most discussion on Instagram could be eye-opening and may get more brands to consider the platform as a result.
So what were the biggest issues among US users on Facebook in January 2016? At an almost perfect balance between young and old, men and women alike, the most discussed topic across The Social Network was the death David Bowie.
The prominence and placement of Bowie in the graph symbolizes the influence the singer had across generations - and as you can see, the share of conversation about Bowie's death was significantly larger than any other topic for the month.
The second most discussed issue was 'Powerball', driven by the hype around the $1.5 billion jackpot (which was eventually split three ways among winners in Florida, Tennessee and a Los Angeles). NFL and Super Bowl conversation was logically big amongst male users, and it's interesting to also note the significant older male interest in Sarah Palin (at the top left of the chart).
The death of British actor Alan Rickman was a big focus of discussion among Harry Potter fans, who are predominantly younger female users (which is interesting in itself, considering Harry Potter was first released almost 20 years ago), while the placement of 'Fast and Furious' at the female end of the discussion spectrum is also significant.
And right at the end, skewing towards younger women, Valentine's Day was also a significant discussion point. In a marketing sense, it's interesting to note how early this discussion is building - maybe not so helpful for outreach purposes for this year, at this late stage, but maybe worth noting for future campaigns.
And then we have Instagram.
It's pretty great to have access to this new data, to see what's resonating across Instagram's network and to translate those topics into visual trends and how people are using the platform to connect and communicate through their images.
The passing of singer Natalie Cole was the main topic of discussion across Instagram in January, with many users posting image tributes to share their grief.
What's of particular interest with the Instagram stats is the vast difference in focus between the two platforms. Of course, anyone who has anything to do with social would've been telling you this for years - that each social network is vastly different, what resonates on one won't necessarily be relevant on another. Considering that difference is key to your platform-by-platform strategy, and seeing the contrast between these two networks highlights this - in fact 'Powerball', 'Alan Rickman' and 'Glenn Frey' are the only three topics that appear in both the Facebook and Instagram Hot Topics lists (and somewhat surprisingly, not 'Valentine's Day').
Also, women on Instagram evidently love 'Pitbulls & Parolees'. Make of that what you will.
Facebook has also published Hot Topics reports, covering both Facebook and Instagram, for other regions including:
And the UK
While there's also Hot Topics report for India as well, though in a slightly different format.
Facebook's Hot Topics reports always provide great insight, and the addition of Instagram data only further enhances their utility - it's definitely worth taking the time to look over what's resonating and understanding where your brand might fit.