Publishers are using CrowdTangle in unique ways to gather breaking news from across social media. Digital native Vox.com, the leader in explanatory journalism, is one of the outlets leading these innovative approaches when it comes to applying digital tools to their news gathering work. Vox brings an audience-first approach to everything they do, and CrowdTangle plays a key part in their strategy. 

We caught up with engagement editor Nisha Chittal and senior audience development manager Agnes Mazur to learn more about their methods.

Vox’s editorial team uses CrowdTangle to identify what is resonating with their audience, which helps to inform their editorial decisions. This helps the Vox team understand what kinds of stories and topics their audience is truly interested in, a strategy that can indicate whether coverage of a particular story should continue.

Building Lists and Using Viral Alerts to See What Story Angles Are Performing Best

Vox has built both general and topic-based Lists which reach their journalists working on different topics. We have lists for general news outlets, but also specific ones for specific desks, like culture, entertainment and lifestyle, climate and energy, etc. 

The Vox team has tied these Lists to CrowdTangle viral alerts, allowing them to be notified by email or Slack every time a post in a List overperforms. 

Top performing content in these lists are funneled into Vox’s Slack rooms via CrowdTangle alerts. These will focus broadly on different topics including politics, culture and entertainment, where writers and editors covering these topics can follow conversations and trends.

“Sometimes stories go viral that don’t fall in our wheelhouse, but they can still lead to useful conversations,” Agnes says. “One of the best examples of this is our Climate Energy Slack room where we aggregate a lot of climate stories that are already performing well with our audience, but actually, through using CrowdTangle and Slack rooms we were able to see that the specific aspect of the story that was performing well was the student protests around the world.

“With that information we could let our climate change reporters know what aspects of the story were overperforming and they could then thoughtfully approach those topics and think about the bigger trends on the arc of that story.”

How Vox Uses CrowdTangle in Breaking New Situations

In breaking news situations Vox uses this method to look for more granular tends. For instance, Nisha and Agnes say if everyone is covering the release of the Mueller rReport, what their newsroom begins looking for is the specific angles of the story which are overperforming. In these instances what Nisha and Agnes say they’ll look at is what angles are doing well with competitors. This helps them better understand which story framing or angles they should pursue.

“[During] the night of the Mueller report and we saw that NPR had framed it in a particular way that had performed really well for them, so it helped us to consider how we could package the story differently for our Facebook audience,” Nisha says.

On planned breaking news events, such as debates or elections, the duo explain that they are using Slack rooms to see what stories and angles are overperforming and resonating with people. They share that feedback with newsroom editors to help them identify story angles that might be worth covering with a Vox lens.

“With a debate we’d be interested in specific moments that are popping on social and we find CrowdTangle helpful for that,” Nisha says.

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