Many use CrowdTangle to do the following when covering elections:

  • If you want to set up an Election Live Display to track coverage from candidates, staffers, organizations, publications, etc.

  • If you want to keep track of your competitors' election coverage.

  • If you want to track political influencers and groups.

  • If you want to find local takes on national elections.

To do all this, you'll want to use the following features: Lists and Saved Searches.  If you're building an Elections Live Display, you'll create Post Stream columns that draw on your Lists and Saved Searches in order to track the coverage.  You can also tie these Lists and Searches to Notifications that can keep you and your team up-to-date on the election coverage even when you're not actively looking in CrowdTangle.

And before creating your own Lists be sure to look through the Explore Section of each of your Dashboards. CrowdTangle may have already created the List for you!

Lists: Finding Your Sources (Politicians, Candidates and More)

These are the Pages and Accounts of the actual candidates, politicians, and their staffers.  Typically this will include some combination of their Facebook Pages/Profiles and/or Instagram Accounts.  

Step 1: In each of your Facebook and Instagram dashboards create an election-themed List that includes the official Pages/Accounts of each of the candidates and incumbent politicians who are running in a particular race.  

Step 2: Go to your Election Live Display and create three Post Stream columns- one for each List (i.e. Facebook and Instagram).

Step 3: Combine these Post Stream columns into one multi-platform column to give you a single view of all of their accounts

Note: We no longer include Twitter in our Live Displays.

Step 4: Set the column to Hot- which will show you posts that are starting to overperform, prioritizing the most recent first.  This is a great way for you to see what's trending as soon as it starts trending.

Step 5 (optional): Repeat Steps 1-4 and set the new Post Stream column to Most Interactions (to see what is getting the most traction) or Most Recent (to see posts as soon as they come out).

Using Search: Finding Who's Talking About Your Sources

These are the accounts and pages that talk about the election/politicians/candidates but which aren't actually a part of the campaigns.  These can include local and national publications, political Facebook Groups, political influencers, political parties, etc.  

You can first use CrowdTangle Search to get a visually-friendly overview of the search terms you're using over a period of time. This feature also includes a trend line that will show how often your search terms have been used over time.

If you're just looking for specific text on images, like campaign slogans, candidate names and more, meme search will let you filter just to include image text.

If you're looking to create a more specific or robust search but you'll set up an election-themed Saved Search within the Dashboard.

Step 1: In each of your four Platform Dashboards (Facebook, Instagram and Reddit) create a Saved Search with election-themed keywords: candidate names, for example.  

Step 2: Use the "All of these words" and/or "None of these words" fields to narrow down your results and to make sure you don't accidentally pull in coverage of people who have the same name as your candidates but who aren't involved in the election.  i.e. Add election, politics, Nevada, etc. to "All of these words" or add Music, Golf, Sports, etc. in "None of these words" in cases where there is another public figure with the same name as a candidate or politician.

Step 3: Go to the Post tab and check the posts in the stream to be sure you're pulling in the coverage you're looking for.  If you're pulling in posts that are unrelated to the election, modify your Search terms as needed.

Step 4: Go to your Election Live Display and create a Post Stream column for each of the Saved Searches you created (Facebook, Instagram and Reddit).  Then combine them into a single Post Stream column.

Tip: If you want to identify new secondary sources to track, use the Saved Search Leaderboard feature to see which Pages, Accounts, or subreddits are showing up in your Search.  Also consider creating a Facebook Group Saved Search and using the Leaderboard to identify active public groups that are discussing the election you're tracking

Advanced Strategies

Saved Searches can also be set up to look within specifics Pages, Accounts, or subreddits via the "Search Within" option:

Try the following variations to make your coverage of the election more sophisticated:

Tracking Competitive Coverage: 

Step 1: Create a List in each of your Dashboards of the Pages and Accounts of your competitors.  Be sure to include your own Pages and Accounts in these Lists.

Step 2: Re-create the Election-themed Saved Search from above, but this time add the competitive List to the "Search Within Only These Lists" field.  This will let you compare your coverage of the election to that of your competitors.  

Tracking Specific Local and National Publications:

It's important to be able to track the election coverage by certain Local and/or National publications, but these publications are often covering a lot of other issues as well.  You can set up your Saved Searches to specifically hone in on only their coverage of the election

Step 1: Create a List in each of your Dashboards of the Pages and Accounts of the specific local and/or national publications you want to track.  (You may or may not want to include your own depending on your needs)

Step 2: Re-create the Election-themed Saved Searches from above, but this time add this List of specific publications to the "Search Within Only These Lists" field.  This will let you see their coverage of this specific election without having to filter through all of their other posts.

Tracking Political Influencers and Groups:

Similar to the issue above, there may be political influencers and political Facebook Groups who sometimes- but not always- comment on/post about the election you're trying to cover.  You can set up your Saved Searches to filter out any unrelated posts.

Step 1: Create a List in each of your Dashboards of the Pages and Accounts of specific political influencers and also of public political Facebook Groups.

Step 2: Re-create the Election-themed Saved Searches from above, but this time add the Lists of these influencers and Groups to the "Search Within Only These Lists" field.  This will filter out any posts from these sources that aren't related to the election you're covering.

Getting A Local Take on Local and National Elections:

Reddit can be a powerful way to connect with the local take on both local and national elections.  Here's how to leverage it:

Step 1: Create a List of local-themed subreddits in your Reddit dashboard.  (You can search by the name of the local area in the "Add subreddits" field).

Step 2: Re-Create the Election-themed Saved Search from above in your Reddit dashboard, but this time add your new Local subreddit List in the "Search Within Only These Lists" field.  This will give you a view of the local discussions of these elections.


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