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.
1 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.
2 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.
3 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.
Fares used Keyhole to address everyday challenges she faces as a social media reporter, helping her regularly write data-driven articles.
"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."
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."
"(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."