Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - Contents - ▶ BY KIRSTEN STA­PLES CON­TRIBUT­ING WRITER

In the wake of out­cries about fake news on so­cial me­dia, Facebook is mak­ing an ef­fort to ad­dress the con­cerns. In Jan­uary 2017, the so­cial me­dia gi­ant ac­quired CrowdTangle, a plat­form used by the news in­dus­try to track what’s be­ing shared on so­cial me­dia. The tool was then of­fered as a free ser­vice as part of the Facebook Jour­nal­ism Project.

“By be­ing a part of Facebook, we can give ac­cess to data that is avail­able in­side the app but not widely avail­able via APIs ( ap­pli­ca­tion pro­gram­ming in­ter­face), like video views. Not only that, but we can stay ahead of up­com­ing changes to keep the user ex­pe­ri­ence as smooth as pos­si­ble,” said Am­ber Burgess, U.S. Lo­cal News part­ner man­ager, CrowdTangle.

The CrowdTangle plat­form can be used across Facebook, Twit­ter, In­sta­gram and Red­dit, all free of charge to news in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als. Since be­ing ac­quired by Facebook, CrowdTangle’s user base has grown about ten-fold, ac­cord­ing to Burgess. Much of their growth has come from di­rect feed­back from lo­cal news­rooms us­ing the plat­form.

Burgess breaks up CrowdTangle’s plat­form into three dis­tin­guish­able cat­e­gories:

1. Story and con­tent dis­cov­ery: Lo­cal news­rooms use CrowdTangle to see what lo­cal sources are pub­lish­ing on so­cial me­dia.

2. Per­for­mance bench­mark­ing: CrowdTangle pro­vides pub­lic so­cial data that helps lo­cal news­rooms un­der­stand not only how their ac­counts are per­form­ing on so­cial me- dia, but also com­peti­tors, ta­lent and other pub­lish­ers in their net­works. Com­mon met­rics that are mea­sured and an­a­lyzed for per­for­mance us­ing CrowdTangle in­clude to­tal in­ter­ac­tions, video views, in­ter­ac­tion rate, post fre­quency and post mix.

3. Un­der­stand­ing au­di­ences: CrowdTangle helps news­rooms un­der­stand the au­di­ences they are reach­ing on Facebook, Twit­ter, In­sta­gram and Red­dit. The tool tells lo­cal news­rooms the in­flu­encers, pub­lic groups, Twit­ter ac­counts and Red­dit threads that are shar­ing their sto­ries. This al­lows them to en­gage on posts of their con­tent, an­swer ques­tions and pro­vide more con­text.

As the plat­form con­tin­ues to grow af­ter the part­ner­ship with Facebook, CrowdTangle is see­ing ad­di­tional im­pacts for users, such as fi­nan­cial gain, dig­i­tal lit­er­acy and cen­tral­iz­ing strate­gies around so­cial KPIs (key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors).

“Our core users are au­di­ence de­vel­op­ment teams, so­cial me­dia teams and dig­i­tal pro­ducer teams. How­ever, our tool has value across many roles in the news­room and is

cur­rently used by many of these roles at dif­fer­ent news or­ga­ni­za­tions: video teams, broad­cast ta­lent, re­porters and jour­nal­ists, sta­tion gen­eral man­agers, se­nior level ex­ec­u­tives, data an­a­lysts, sales teams,” Burgess said.

Big names

The CrowdTangle plat­form is used by nu­mer­ous large me­dia com­pa­nies such as Gan­nett, Gate­House and Mc­Clatchy.

“My over­all ex­pe­ri­ence with CrowdTangle has been great,” said Penny Rior­dan, di­rec­tor of Dig­i­tal Au­di­ence En­gage­ment, Gate­House Me­dia. “Gate­House has more than 500 Facebook pages, and CrowdTangle helped us with some on-board­ing early on that saved me some time. The sup­port re­sponse time on the dash­board is also fast, and their on- site train­ing ma­te­ri­als are very ro­bust.”

CrowdTangle al­lows me­dia pro­fes­sion­als to quickly pull data per­ti­nent to com­mu­nity in­volve­ment on so­cial me­dia. By see­ing what other lo­cal groups are post­ing on their pages in one place, CrowdTangle users are able to more eas­ily di­gest what their au­di­ence finds im­por­tant.

“One key t hi ng t hat has helped us is view­ing an­a­lyt­ics for all of our pages to­gether in CrowdTangle In­tel­li­gence. I can see his­tor­i­cal trends on en­gage­ment, post vol­ume and fan page size on all our pages in the Gate­House list. This al­lows me to pull data pretty quickly,” Rior­dan said. “CrowdTangle has also helped us keep the fin­ger on the pulses of the so­cial ac­tiv­ity in our com­mu­ni­ties. Through lo­cal lists, news­rooms can see what po­lice, schools or other lo­cal groups are shar­ing in Facebook. Thanks to the vi­ral alerts, the staff can turn those around into quick posts. Many posts that started from some­thing spot­ted on CrowdTangle have been real traf­fic driv­ers.”

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