Making sense of the social web

By Paul Quigley

The CEO of NewsWhip explains how artificial intelligence can help newsrooms, agencies and communications professionals spend less time figuring out what audiences are talking about, and more time on crafting an engaging story.

Today, nearly anyone can be a broadcaster. All you need to do is pull out your smartphone, press record and upload the video or image to your favorite social network.

While great for transparency – we can now see what’s happening in remote places we could never previously access – the amount of user-generated content also creates a seemingly insurmountable task for those of us who need to stay on top of current events and the social web.

So what are we to do?

In this era, it’s practically impossible to sift through millions of tweets, posts and photos without some sort of digital tool. In order to find relevant stories and events from these channels, that tool might very well be machine-learning algorithms.

While it may sound like jargon, these algorithms get smarter based on which of their suggested content you use, utilizing your preferences to surface the most relevant information to you and your team.

The great outcome of all of this? The same thing that happens every time a good technology arrives: It frees humans to focus on higher-value work. Whether you’re a journalist, marketer or public relations professional, you can spend less time figuring out what your audiences are talking about, and more time crafting the engaging story or messaging for them.

The Associated Press, in fact, provides a great example of how automation software can produce more in-depth storytelling. By having computers write their straightforward briefs on earnings reports, journalists have more time to explain what those earnings reports mean for the public.

(It should also be noted that no AP jobs have been lost to robots.)

Imagine a digital newsroom where no one needs to worry about missing any salient facts – all the stories, user-generated content and events that matter to the intended audience are delivered in a customized way.

Sounds good, right?

It does to us and AP, and to the newsrooms, PR agencies and brands that use NewsWhip to continuously track the spread of millions of stories, videos and other content attracting engagement and driving activity on social networks.

Finding big stories while they’re small and breaking news before it breaks provides time for publishers to prepare an editorial strategy. By covering 100 countries and 30 languages, we provide a comprehensive view of what’s important to any audience at any time and in any topic.

“NewsWhip allows us to surface trends and act on them quickly.”

NewsWhip allows us to surface trends and act on them quickly,” said Mark Davies, a global news manager with AP. “We’ve rolled it out to desks around the world, letting each team search for topics of specific interest to their region or customers.”

And while monitoring the conversation on social media can help with brand management and ultimately increase revenue, analytics for stories that have already been published shouldn’t be ignored, either. Whether you’re tracking the results of one of your own articles or those written by another publication, it’s vital to understand whether you are reaching and engaging your intended audiences.

“When we see AP content driving social engagement for our members and clients, we can opt to do more on that topic,” Davies said.

With more information being published than ever before, it can be difficult to navigate the proliferation of digital and social media. But these channels also present treasure troves of data to those who can decipher them and create a strategy around them.

That’s why I’m excited to see how social media tools — and the audiences who use them — continue to evolve.

Paul Quigley

Paul is the CEO and co-founder of NewsWhip, a technology company based in Dublin and New York.

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