5 Steps Germany’s Rheinische Post Took to Track a Local Election With CrowdTangle

3 min readSep 20, 2017
Photo: Krebs/RP

CrowdTangle can be among the most critical tools for editors and journalists covering an election.

Take German local news giant Rheinische Post as an example. During April’s local election in Rheinische Post’s home state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the RP social media team used CrowdTangle to strategically support their print and online editors in generating content directly from social media.

“We achieved this by setting up Lists for pages of local authorities, politicians, celebrities, institutions and venues,” said Rheinische Post’s audience development editor, Henning Bulka. “CrowdTangle helped us react quickly with ad hoc news based on single postings. For example, if a Facebook post by a politician went viral we would be notified right away and could decide whether to publish a story on it.”

Setting up CrowdTangle to cover an election is quick and simple, and if done right, can help you spot election-related breaking news content in lightening-fast speed.

Here are five steps the Rheinische Post team took when building out their CrowdTangle account to track their local election. RP social media analyst Hannah Monderkamp and Henning explain:

Step 1: Building politician Lists

“For the NRW election we built lists in CrowdTangle containing various local politicians who were either in parliament or running for it. Those lists were created for all large parties. Which politicians went into the lists was decided by our political editors. They also chose politicians, who were not in the public spotlight, but merely second or third tier.”

Step 2: Building good Viral Alerts

“We tied those lists of politicians to Alerts within CrowdTangle. Doing that, we were experimenting a lot on how sensitive the threshold should be. In the end, we decided to choose a fairly high threshold in order to avoid receiving too many alerts.”

Step 3: Sending Alerts to all election day editors

“Those alerts were sent by e-mail to all print and online editors within the core NRW election team. We also added alert notifications to special Slack channels. We found it to be especially useful that CrowdTangle offers direct Slack integration. This way we were able to integrate viral alerts directly into our daily publishing workflow without having to create new processes. Therefore, most of our team quickly became familiar with looking at the various alerts, even outside the core election team. On election day, we turned down the threshold for these Alerts to track more content. Doing that, we achieved better monitoring of what politicians were sharing.”

Step 4: Do this for all social platforms

“This whole process was done for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. What we found, though, was that Instagram was the least interesting to our editors in keeping up to date with the political discussion, whereas Twitter was the most important source.”

Step 5: Results

“Creating these CrowdTangle Lists and Alerts helped us get a better understanding of the online debate before the election and helped keep track of the political discussion happening online. The tool was especially helpful in tracking the online activities of the right-wing party AfD, as they had a strong focus on social media campaigning.”




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