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Know your numbers with our Facebook front-end statistic widget

It's important to have good statistics tools I Photo credit: Lendingmemo, (CC BY 2.0)
It's important to have good statistics tools I Photo credit: Lendingmemo, (CC BY 2.0)

Sourcefabric is made up of a team of both developers and journalists, thus we have unique insight into the needs of online editors. We want to make their experience using our free and open source Content Management System, Newscoop, as good as possible. Over the course of time we have developed numerous themes and plugins for Newscoop, spanning from our YouTube plugin to our more recent Google Events calendar plugin. You can check out the whole list here.

Now it’s time to introduce you to a few lines of code we recently released that will allow you to always know your numbers: the Facebook front-end statistic widget. When logged in as an admin, this cool little code snippet shows the number of reads and Facebook shares in the front-end of the publication.

With the rise and ever-increasing presence of social media, media consumption habits are also changing. Social networking sites such as Facebook are playing an increasingly important role in the dissemination of news. Roughly half of Facebook users get their news through social media. This front-end statistic widget will help you keeping track of how often your article is being read on your site and on Facebook. 

The Facebook front-end statistics widget in action

So what are the benefits of using this widget? Well, most importantly, it allows editors to see in real-time how well their content is doing. Showing the statistics attached to the articles in the front-end makes it easy to identify whether a change in the presentation could help to increase the performance of the article.

The front page of every newspaper serves as a very powerful tool. I know this from the regional newspaper that I founded two years ago. I specifically built this widget to identify and promote those articles which did not receive a high number of likes and shares on social media. By moving these articles to the front page, we are able to either increase the number of reads and shares on social media for that article, or we are able to identify that we cannot get any more from that article. By simply clicking on the yellow markers displayed on the articles, my editors are immediately directed to the backend where they can change the way the articles are presented on the homepage.

The way this tool works is by hooking up to the Facebook public API to provide the data. That may sound complicated, but in the end it is really easy to set up on your Newscoop instance. Here is the code that you will need to add to your homepage template.

The last step is to make sure you enable statistics in your Newscoop instance either by selecting ‘yes’ for ‘Automatic collection of statistics:’ or by adding command {{ count }} in the article page template if automatic collection is not enabled. Next you must provide the right Facebook App ID in the system configuration, and finally enabling the following API: [GET] /api/articles/{number}.json. There you go, you'll know your numbers!

Are you interested in using Newscoop in your newsroom? Have a look at the demo or shoot us an email to learn more.

Are you an open source developer? Check out our GitHub page to see how you can contribute.