We know that sourcing and publishing breaking news on Facebook is important to many news publishers who use our platform. That's why we've created this playbook.
This playbook is designed to help you optimise for newsgathering, publishing and tracking performance of breaking news posts on Facebook.
We will run through CrowdTangle's newsgathering best practices, how to use Facebook's 'Breaking News Tool' and get some tips from some publishers that are already doing a great job.
If you are a news publisher and don't have access to CrowdTangle or the Breaking News tool please reach out to your Facebook contact who can discuss this with you.
NEWSGATHERING - 5 Ways to Find Timely News Using CrowdTangle:
(i) Filter posts for the Breaking News indicator to spot overperforming breaking news posts
(ii) Build Lists of breaking news sources on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, eg:
- First Responders (emergency services like police, fire, coastguard, mountain rescue...)
- News sources, eg breaking news Twitter accounts, local newspapers in your area...
- Make Lists of primary sources, eg: Politicians, sports stars, public figures, community Facebook groups, schools, businesses...
- Import Twitter lists of journalists who track specific topics on your beat. They are often first to break stories.
(iii) Create a Saved search for all, your, breaking news, keywords, and phrases, separated, by, commas, like, this
- Keywords could be: Just in, developing, breaking, alert, police chase, earthquake, shooting, bomb, attack, knife, terrorist...
- Use creative keywords like: dashcam, cctv, study finds, opening, closing...
- Or try a string of Local town names in your area eg: Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee...
- Edit the search to “within” one of your source Lists, eg “breaking” within List:Journalists
- Combine the “breaking keywords” search with a town name, eg “Breaking” and “Sydney”
- When a breaking news event occurs, set up Searches for specific related terms and filter by different Lists. Eg “wildfire, #Malibufire” within Lists: weather orgs, gov agencies, first responders
(iv) Create Notifications via Slack and email using your Saved Searches and Lists. Eg:
- Viral alert dedicated to Breaking News accounts (@cnnbrk, @BBCBreaking, etc)
- Viral alert for your Saved Search keywords above.
- Viral Alert for a single top source (eg Trump). Toggle "get notified on every post" so you never miss a post.
- Set alerts for your beat reporters by topic List and topic Saved Search keywords. Add the reporters via Slack or email.
(v) Add your Lists and Searches as columns in a Live Display:
- Filter columns by Breaking News, Most Recent, or Hot (Hot = recent overperforming)
- Facebook Lives are great to filter for during breaking news situations
- Make your Live Display “public” in settings and share the URL with colleagues in the field. They don't have to be CrowdTangle users to see a public live display - anyone can view.
PUBLISHING - Best practices for publishing breaking news on Facebook
Using The Breaking News Indicator
The breaking news indicator is a label that appears next to important and developing news stories in News Feed.
The indicator helps publishers quickly communicate urgent news and build audience loyalty through breaking news coverage while helping people identify the most important news stories on Facebook.
Publishers can label content as breaking news through a Facebook Composer and some third party platforms. This will allow Page followers to see a 'Breaking News' indicator on content in News Feed. The indicator will also appear when content is shared from News Feed.
The content types eligible to use the indicators are Instant Articles, article links posts and Facebook Live video broadcasts.
Publishers have a cap of one breaking news indicator allocated per day, which they can use on any content they post, plus an extra five indicators to use at will throughout the calendar month.
You will be able to edit the post that has the breaking news indicator on it (for example, to change the headline), although the breaking news timestamp will remain tied to the original time it was posted.
We recommend that you remove the articles that are labeled with the breaking news indicator from your paywall so that people are able to read the content, whether it's on Instant Articles or your mobile website.
How the Breaking News Indicator Works
In the countries where the product is fully launched to all consumers, we're considering the breaking news label as a signal of timeliness in News Feed.
Posts are marked on the content-level, so if the post with a breaking news indicator is shared to other pages, the breaking news indicator will appear on those as well.
In News Feed:
- An indicator will appear on the Link Cover marked as 'Breaking News'.
- We will include the date timestamp, which is based on when the publisher marked the FB Post as breaking.
- The breaking news indicator appears on the content for six hours, however publishers can switch it off sooner.
- Publishers won't be able to edit the duration of the indicator after posting. For example, if you set the indicator to appear for four hours, you won't be able to edit that duration once the post is live. However, you can decide that you want to delete the indicator from the post. If you take this action, you won't be able to add the indicator back to the original post.
HOW TO Add the Breaking News Indicator TO YOUR POSTS
- Go to your publication's page on Facebook.com and post in the Page Composer. You will see a radio wave icon that you can click which will allow you to apply the breaking news indicator .
2) Select how long you want the indicator to appear for, remembering that the maximum time you can choose is six hours.
3) People will then see the breaking news indicator appear in News Feed for the selected time period.
4) The indicator will automatically disappear after the selected time period so people will no longer see it.
Note: You can also add the breaking news indicator to a post or delete it from a post after you have published it.
Posting through third-party platforms
Publishers can tag link-based content and Facebook Live broadcasts as breaking news through a Page Composer experience.
We have also offer the Breaking News Creation API, which allows you to mark your posts with the breaking news indicator using third-party platforms. If you use any of the following services to post to Facebook, you can apply the breaking news indicator through their 'compose' experience:
- Falcon Social
- Social Flow
- Social News Desk
Please reach out to your POC from the relevant company and tell them you'd like to start using the feature.
We don't yet support the capability to fetch from the graph API if a post is breaking. At this time we only allow for creation of breaking news posts.
things To Keep In Mind
- Hard news performs best: Posts about Politics, Crime & Disaster, and Business are most frequently marked as breaking news by the publishers participating in the beta test, and these are the best performing topics in terms of click-through-rate and engagement.
- Entertainment and sports don't do well: Posts about Entertainment, Celebrity and Sports don't perform as strongly in terms of click-through-rate.
- Post important public information: Most people define breaking news on Facebook as news that is important to the public. We encourage you to keep that top of mind when defining your strategy, as well as to use the breaking news indicator on news that is timely.