Today, Facebook has released a brand new Public Feed API that lets you see a realtime firehose of public posts mentioning a specific word. The Keyword Insights API, on the other hand, aggregates all the public posts mentioning a specific word and spits out anonymous stats about the age, location, and gender of the users posting updates. The tools are designed to help news networks capitalize on responses to current events, but also to understand audience metrics and engagement for their own primetime programming.

Facebook claims that between 88 and 100 million Americans log onto the site between the hours of 8 PM and 11 PM. “Over nine million people talked about the VMAs on Facebook,” says Justin Osofsky, VP of media partnerships at Facebook. “We wanted to give our broadcast partners a better picture of what’s going on.”

It’s not uncommon for news organizations to cite Tweets when trying to gauge public sentiment because the public nature of Tweets themselves makes it easier to sort through and analyze on a large scale.  Having worked in social media analytics I can tell you the number of Tweets available to analyze almost always beat out the number of [public] Facebook posts.  That being said, Facebook has been making a push lately for people to share my posts publicly, two examples of that would be the release of the Hashtag feature and embedded posts.

The first companies who have been given access to this new tool are CNN, NBC, Sky TV, BuzzFeed, The GuardianSlate, and social media analytics firm Mass Relevance.  I can only imagine how jealous other social analytic firms must be of Mass Relevance right now.

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