Discovery and Analytics with CrowdTangle

Brandon Silverman, CEO and co-founder of CrowdTangle, explains what CrowdTangle is, what it does, and how it can help newsrooms all over the world to use social media more efficiently and effectively.
Nowadays, most problems newsrooms are dealing with stem from the fact that they are overwhelmed with data. They produce more content, distribute this content on more platforms than ever, and journalists listen to more sources. CrowdTangle simplifies all these processes. Its goal is not to have data drive journalists’ work, but merely to form it by doing the following three things:

  • Discovering stories. Everyday, over 30 millions posts are published on Facebook, not to mention other platforms like Instagram, Twitter, or Reddit. CrowdTangle follows all these accounts for you and tracks how they’re doing. This way, you can see which posts are over-performing and which ones are under-performing. This helps newsrooms discover best practices with regards to social media and allows them to stay on top of what is happening.
  • Benchmarking your performance. With CrowdTangle, the BBC for example can collect data of all their World Service accounts, and see how they do in comparison.
  • Identifying your influencers. CrowdTangle shows newsrooms if large third party social media accounts are posting links to their content. This makes it easy to understand where traffic is coming from. CrowdTangle has developed a Chrome plug-in especially for this feature.

Before CrowdTangle, journalists used to do all this manually, which could take hours. Now, with CrowdTangle, it takes about 15 seconds. Moreover, CrowdTangle is not an extra dashboard, but a bespoke model that can be integrated in existing platforms like Slack. This means newsrooms do not have to log into yet another platform. At the end of 2016, Facebook acquired CrowdTangle. The tool has since been made completely free for everyone to use. Furthermore, Facebook’s funds have allowed the team at CrowdTangle to travel around the US to train newsrooms in order for them to get the most out of it. The acquisition by Facebook has also opened up new opportunities for partnerships, and has allowed the team to launch new tools and have even more impact on newsrooms all over the world. In the US, more than 600 newsrooms already use CrowdTangle.
Asha Phillips, a former journalist who now covers the Asian market for CrowdTangle, talks to Niddal Salah-Eldin about how she uses CrowdTangle in her work as manager of the social media team at German newspaper Welt and its news channel N24. The social media team at Welt has only been around for about two years, which is a relatively short team. Before that, Salah-Eldin’s online colleagues were responsible for social media as a sort of side project.
To Salah-Eldin, building a community and having a social mind-set all across the newsroom is the most important thing. The team are evangelists for social media, so to speak. Every morning, the social media team does a stand-up to go over the data of the day before. This has helped give them presence and recognition in the newsroom. The focus within the team is not only on having reach and great viral stories, but also on audience development. Therefore, it is key to be pro-active and engage with the community. CrowdTangle helps Salah-Eldin get insight into which stories are over-performing or under-performing and how much audience interaction a story has prompted. Journalists are big egos, so they like to know how well their stories did on social media. The data from CrowdTangle serves as great feedback for them. It also helps the social media team decide on a data-informed social media strategy. It also saves the team a great deal of time, as they don’t have to collect all the data manually themselves. CrowdTangle helps to browse through the overwhelming noise of social media.
Salah-Eldin also mentions the Lists feature that CrowdTangle offers. Nowadays, many politicians are on several different social media platforms that are managed by social media teams. Salah-Eldin gives the example of the German parliament, which is so big that it would be impossible to follow every single member and keep track of all their social media accounts. There is also the problem of not wanting to personally follow certain politicians because of ideological differences. By creating a list on CrowdTangle, you don’t have to go to their pages and like and follow them. Instead, you get a curated list of what is going on and what these politicians are up to. Furthermore, lists can be used to find meaningful stories based on a certain demographic, for example underrepresented minorities. Phillips gives the example of how CrowdTangle’s Asian partners create lists of influential women in India. The BBC can then track the content that’s being shared within this list and come up with story ideas based on it. CrowdTangle is also working on a tool that will give more insight into demographic data, so that newsrooms will be able to see by whom their content is read and shared.

By Aster Dieleman