Brut is Seeing Phenomenal Growth — They Say It’s Because of CrowdTangle

This case study is about a company that has been in existence for less than 18 months and has doubled in Page size every six months during that period. In mid-2017, the Facebook team documented how they went from 0 to 80 million video views in their first half year in business. Since then, they’ve launched new pages across three countries and have more than tripled their monthly total video views to 310 million as of April 2018.

Brut. Ever hear of them?

The France-based digital media outlet, which covers a range of news and human interest topics, has seen some rocket ship growth over the last year, and they credit CrowdTangle. Their strategic use of CrowdTangle has helped them achieve explosive growth, rollouts in the U.S., UK, and India, and has equipped them to succeed after Facebook’s new “Meaningful Social Interactions” News Feed changes.

Early on, Brut was growing rapidly in the French market, and were audaciously looking to become one of the biggest video news pages on Facebook, but were competing with brands that had much deeper social media footholds.

Brut did have one thing to their advantage — a hyper-engaged Facebook following. We recommended they zero-in on this active community using CrowdTangle’s Interaction Rate as a metric to help them understand what type of content their community wanted, and what would keep those followers engaged.

“What we always prioritized at Brut was audience over traffic,” Brut CEO Guillaume Lacroix says. “We wanted to establish a strong link with the audience, to start conversation. We didn’t want to just do video.”

Brut’s Director of Business Development Luc Ryan-Schreiber adds: “Interaction Rate has really helped us focus on meaningful content that speaks to our audience. It’s not just trying to get a cheap view with clickbait. We need to create stories that motivate people to discuss, comment, like and share.”

So what is Interaction Rate?

Interaction Rate in CrowdTangle’s system is a metric calculated by averaging the number of interactions for all of the account’s posts in the specified time frame, then dividing that by the number of followers/fans. Interaction Rate is ultimately used as a proxy metric for community engagement.

Audience engagement of course is a clear indication that followers of a page value the content that is being shared, and want more.

“Mid 2017 is where we really focused on Interaction rate,” Guillaume says. “In the beginning we were not that interested because our pages were so small that it seemed that our high rate was just because of our size. As soon as we grew and passed the 100k, 200k, 300k mark we realized that we were continuing to outperform with Interaction Rate on all our pages. Engagement was leading to growth, and we started to take Interaction Rate more seriously.”

What happened to Brut when they hit high Interaction Rate numbers?

“We definitely noticed that our views — our main metric of success — started to out-perform,” Guillaume says.

“Suddenly we were overtaking the competition — Business Insider, Mic, Mashable, and all the French media we competed against. We realized through CrowdTangle that we were doing even better than expected.”

“The next thing we noticed is that the best way to recruit people [to our page] was not views. High engagement meant high page growth,” Luc says.

“Interaction Rate made us focus on our core business, which wasn’t video views, but starting convo,” Guillaume says. “Editorially we focused more on these high Interaction Rate stories. The real value is engagement.”

“Now Engagement is even more important a metric for us than views,” Guillaume says.

The “Aha Moment”

“In late 2017, we experimented with a feature story on French politician Simone Veil and the Interaction Rate was through the roof,” Luc says. “We tested this feature story format again and again, specifically around engagement. And it became one of our strongest formats.”

“We started to develop the series after this, and each time it worked. Now we have a journalist who only does these ‘Une Vie’ (‘a life’) features and it is one of our best performing areas, often breaching the 1 million mark in video views,” Luc adds.

Brut launched new pages in the U.S., UK and India using this strategy

Brut’s success with their French page led to a global rollout across three other countries a year after they had launched. Their CrowdTangle strategy has led to huge organic page growth, and they continue to outperform most other digital publishers in the space when it comes to Interaction Rate.

“Since January 1st our American page has grown from around 220k followers to around 650k,” Guillaume says. “We were able to go from 30 million monthly views to 110 monthly views in just over a month in the U.S. We credit our CrowdTangle strategy.”

Brut and the evolving Facebook News Feed

Because Brut has put a premium on engagement, Guillaume says he feels like they’re well equipped to navigate Facebook’s recent News Feed changes, which emphasize meaningful interactions.

“For us, the News Feed change has been an opportunity. We are thriving because of the change. With the exact same pages we had before, we’re just growing, growing, growing,” Guillaume says.

“You cannot create engagement if it’s not meaningful.”

“The best thing I’ve learned at Brut a year in is that the best recipe for engagement is intelligent content. if you have smart content, you win. People interact with good, smart content. We see almost 90% of our reach is coming from friends sharing content with each other.”

“We will continue to use Interaction Rate to make sure we are building content that engages,” Guillaume says. “We were focused on interaction rate before the change, which we believe has us helped us weather the changes early on and continue to grow our views and interactions even after the change.”