Patch’s CrowdTangle Playbook: How the Hyperlocal News Platform Tracks 1,200 Towns Across America
Patch has a hyperlocal presence in over 1,200 towns across America. Every town has a Facebook and Twitter account. For Liana Messina, Patch’s social media editor, managing these thousands of pages is a feat.
“We’re the only publisher with that many social accounts,” Liana says. “CrowdTangle is by far the best solution for tracking social performance at this scale without having to pull thousands of individual reports.”
The CrowdTangle platform allows Patch to track all of their thousands of pages in a single glimpse, as well as give their editors an edge in sourcing news in smaller locales across America.
“CrowdTangle has given us the ability to track follower growth and interactions by page, by region, and by state, which has been key to identifying our most successful social media practitioners in the field,” Patch editor-in-chief Dennis Robaugh says.
Dennis explains that engagement and growth drive Patch’s social strategy. CrowdTangle has helped consolidate and execute that strategy.
Here are four ways Patch is using CrowdTangle to succeed on social media.
1. They Customize the Heck Out Of CrowdTangle
“Customization is key,” Liana says. “We have multiple dashboards and hundreds of lists within those dashboards. For each Patch site, there is a custom, hyperlocal list of organizations, nonprofits and influencers. We have reporters across the country using this data in different ways, which is a really unique thing about Patch.”
For internal reporting, Patch tracks everything through lists they’ve set up in CrowdTangle around all their social accounts. These lists are organized by region so Liana and her team can easily compare social performance across those audiences.
They use the data in these reports to answer various questions around social strategy.
“Which region has the highest follower growth? What is that editorial team doing differently? What type of content is resonating with our readers there? Then we get more granular by downloading Leaderboard reports, focusing on interaction numbers and follower growth at the town level.”
2. Patch Set Up All Those Notifications Your CrowdTangle Rep Always Tells You About
“Notifications have become an integral part of how we use CrowdTangle in the newsroom,” Liana says. “Integrating social media into our reporters’ daily routines — in an easy to digest format — is an important part of my role. Each member of our editorial team receives weekly Facebook digests “scorecards” via email for the towns they cover, highlighting key metrics and top over-performing posts. Leaderboard reports are automated to send on the first of every month so editors can dive into the data a little deeper. And of course, Slack! We set up CrowdTangle viral alerts in Slack for each region to monitor high-performing local content within Patch and across the Facebook network.”
Digests to show what is and isn’t working. Viral Alerts to track trending news.
The editor-in-chief says he gets notifications for Patch’s overperforming social posts by state as well as nationwide. “[This] allows me to keep tabs on our best social media work across a very wide network of sites and editors. Our social media fanbase is an important constituency, and I like to know that it’s being fed and nurtured. CrowdTangle allows me to do that efficiently.”
Remember it’s not just for Facebook: “Most recently, we’ve been testing out Instagram digests (customized by region) to monitor what’s trending and Leaderboard reports to track internal owned video views across all our Facebook pages,” Liana says.
Over the last two years, Patch has added almost 1 million new Facebook followers — a 50 percent increase. For Patch, CrowdTangle’s Leaderboards are the most efficient way to track follower growth across their abundance of accounts.
“It’s truly life-changing to pull follower growth data for 1,200+ Facebook pages in 2 minutes,” Liana says.
4. The Chrome Extension, to Track Where Shares Are Coming From
The CrowdTangle Chrome Extension can best be used to see what networks a specific URL has been shared to.
Social editors can use it to see where content is getting huge engagement; reporters can use the tool to see who has shared their story. The Chrome Extension has been critical in tracking Patch’s social media.
“An unexplained social spike on Chartbeat can be easily solved with a click of a button,” Liana says. “I love finding out who is sharing our content and how they present it to their audience.”