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 media, 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 thing that 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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