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Announcing Social Show, a real-time social context layer

When news breaks, users read stories and turn to social (or turn to social, then read stories). In many cases — in whichever order this happens — they are toggling between the two, trying to get the latest that both have to offer. We think that’s a lot of work. So we’ve been building a feature to help showcase the full story together, something that can deliver news and social commentary as they are developing. We think a first pass at this is the launch of our new real-time social context layer, Social Show.

We’ve built a social feature layer that sits right on top of Washington Post articles and blog posts that we’re seeing lots of social conversation around, in cases where it is valuable to curate social to help paint a fuller picture. For this first version launch, our editorially curated streams display Tweets and Twitter cards that are relevant to the topic you’re reading about.

How do users see it?
You will find a “Social Show” button at the top of any blog or article that we’ve created a Social Show around. (See below.)

The anatomy of a Social Show
When you click the Social Show button, you open up a modal window on desktop web, and a new page on mobile web. Once there, you see a few different things:

  • Social Show stream: A custom Twitter stream, set up and curated by our digital editors, that is crafted from a custom list, then filtered by relevant keywords that you see on the left side of the window. You can scroll to the end of the stream and click further to return all Tweets that meet this criteria since the stream was created.
  • Number of Mentions: This number is pulled from the number of Tweets meeting the keyword filter criteria from the custom list that is displayed on the right. The mentions cumulate over time, and the number is updated for the user each time they open the Show window.
  • Post Pulse: On the bottom left, you will see a list of headlines from the Post Pulse Politics feed. Post Pulse is our proprietary engine that pulls the most socially referred of Washington Post stories across all social networks.

Why isn’t there a Social Show on all stories?
Right now we’re launching this feature within the politics section of The Post, just in time for the midterm elections to heat up. We’re creating the Shows on the top political stories of the week, just a handful for now. As we continue to build out the feature (adding more social services), we’ll expand what sections we produce them around as well as the volume of Shows themselves.

Hey, where did the Social Show button go?
If you are coming to a story that had a Social Show a few days ago, it might not be there if the story is no longer active or the Show is no longer being editorially curated. We are creating Shows and then “turning them off” when the story is less active. We want to make sure we’re bringing you the latest and most relevant social context to match the story.

If you have ideas on how we can grow this product, or features you’d like to see us add, please let us know.

Cory Haik is executive producer and senior editor for Digital News at The Washington Post.