January 8, 2016

Chequeado, the Argentinian fact-checking website, had a good year in 2015 (read about the impact of their coverage here). Part of its success was measured in increased readership: Chequeado increased its traffic nearly nine-fold, recording an estimated 500,000 visits in November.

How did they do it?

A good part of the increase is due to a hotly contested presidential election. Chequeado also rolled out several sleek new sections. One gathered in a single location all fact checks they publish while live-checking debates or major speeches. In another, they tracked the official announcement of ministers by the country’s new government (and their fact checks), particularly useful as a whirlwind of rumors accompanied the formation of the new cabinet.

Nonetheless the “killer app” in terms of broadening the audience was sharing fact checks more and better on social media. Reflecting the broader trend of a diminished role for the homepage, social media accounted for almost 50% of Chequeado’s traffic in 2015. In turn, this splits 59%/41% between Facebook and Twitter.

Pablo Martín Fernández, who joined Chequeado last year as Coordinator of Editorial Innovation shared some tips from Chequeado’s 2015 strategy that can be useful for fact-checkers everywhere.

It is likely that some of this advice may not strike some as especially novel. But the reality is that many smaller fact-checking organizations around the world don’t feel they have have the time or resources to properly develop a social media strategy. This simple list should serve as a reminder that a small investment in both can yield disproportionate results.

  1. Share more.  The single biggest change in Chequeado’s diffusion strategy was to share stories more often. This wasn’t necessarily as a result of publishing more fact checks; old fact checks can become relevant again, and new fact checks can be posted in a variety of different ways (see point 2). Every day of the week a different member of the newsroom is responsible for keeping Chequeado’s Buffer full with 1o posts for Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Publish the same fact check in different formats. The very first time a new fact check is shared on social media Chequeado uses two specific formats. First they will post: “Politician X said “full sentence”. Is it so?” and in a second moment “Politician X said “full sentence”. #FALSE.” The first format generates more clicks but fewer shares, while the second tends to be shared more frequently.
  3. Tag the person you’re fact-checking. If possible, Chequeado tags the person who is fact-checked. This is done more as a reference to their readership rather than necessarily because it generates more shares.
  4. Share more often on Facebook. In 2015 the fact-checkers posted almost as regularly on Twitter as they did on Facebook. This yielded a very significant increase in traffic.
  5. Include images or activate Twitter summary cards. This has been shown to be true for many organizations sharing content on social media and worked for Chequeado: including an image (/GIF/video) on each post or tweet increases interaction. A second-best option is activating Twitter summary cards, which automatically generate a preview inclusive of an image – but only if you expand the tweet.
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Alexios Mantzarlis joined Poynter to lead the International Fact-Checking Network in September of 2015. In this capacity he writes about and advocates for fact-checking. He…
Alexios Mantzarlis

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