During her first week at Reuters, Melissa Fares said her boss wanted to find out which hashtags and keywords were trending in relation to breaking news stories.
But that task introduced a set of challenges.
Tracking Real-Time Data to Stay on Top of Social Trends
As journalists compete to break news while social trends rapidly grow and pass, Fares needed a tool to monitor online conversations in real-time. Platforms that don’t offer live tracking can’t keep up with a newsroom’s fast pace, she says.
Analyzing User Demographics
Covering state-, national- and international-level news created a need to know where social media trends develop and gain steam. Finding a tool that collects this data informs readers if their peers, colleagues and neighbours are voicing opinions, says Fares.
Understanding How Social Trends Develop and Relate to Each Other
Unravelling the context behind social media trends would help Fares add detail to her articles and think up other story ideas. She not only needed to monitor online conversations, but track related hashtags and keywords while identifying influential users.
Fares found Keyhole through a Google search and says she quickly started exploring the social media analytics platform.
“I have fun with it, even if I’m not working on an article. One of the things I do all the time is track the top trends on Twitter. Those usually point me in the direction of stories.”
Keyhole helps her take on day-to-day challenges by:
- Monitoring real-time and historical Twitter data, ensuring she gets the complete picture of a given trend or event
- Accessing a live stream of posts, uncovering the context behind trends
- Generating keywords and hashtags related to her tracked terms, helping her research new story ideas
- Measuring user influence, revealing if certain accounts have triggered or changed the course of a conversation
- Tracking user demographic data such as gender and location, indicating which types of audiences would be most interested in a potential article
“I really do value Keyhole. It was one of the first platforms that I came across for navigating the social Internet, and it’s proven to be highly user-friendly and a pure joy to use. I even use it in my free time.”
Fares used Keyhole to address everyday challenges she faces as a social media reporter, helping her regularly write data-driven articles.
Developed New Story Ideas
“Keyhole has taken me in a lot of directions that other platforms haven’t,” says Fares.
The tool identifies the most popular hashtags and keywords used with your tracked terms. This feature helps Fares find new trends and track data associated with them, helping her either craft stories or add more detail to articles.
“It points me towards the side conversations that are being held, helping me understand why they’re related … We’re always interested in taking the story further and investigating how people are reacting to what’s being said,” she adds.
“That’s where Keyhole has been super, super useful.”
Wrote Articles Using Keyhole Analytics
Fares has used Keyhole data to write stories ranging from the health effects of bacon to the United States presidential election -- one of the most popular being about Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim ban.
By tracking hashtags and keywords relating to the Republican candidate, she identified which five states were talking most about the ban.
“It’s interesting to know that California was talking so much about the ban. Why California? We don’t necessarily know, but without that information from Keyhole, there would have been readers who might not have related to the story.”
Collected Social Data in Breaking News Situations
“(Keyhole) is everything a journalist wants to use in a breaking-news situation, since it’s quick and easy to use,” says Fares.
Inputting a keyphrase will quickly generate data by analyzing a sample of relevant posts, updating in real-time. Unlike other tracking tools, there is no need to authenticate your Twitter or Instagram account. You also don’t have to fill out a complex form to start your search.
And during crunch time, Fares says the tool doesn’t give her problems.
“You want to spend time on Keyhole. It’s fun. It’s exciting.”