Tools for Transparency: Monitor Your Site with Chartbeat

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Chartbeat logoSomeone earlier today asked what are the benefits of Chartbeat, aside from the live analytics and site traffic reports it provides? This was about an hour before a Political Party Time link was posted to the front page of the Drudge Report.

Now, for the uninitiated, the best way to think about Chartbeat is to compare it to Google Analytics: where Google Analytics only aggregates data over time, Chartbeat shows you live stats on traffic to your site — which is why it was particularly useful when we got picked up on Drudge.

Here’s where Chartbeat’s benefits kick in: a few hours ago, I received an alert notifying me that over 600 visitors where on Party Time right now, which is a bit unusual. I opened up Chartbeat and saw that the influx was coming from the Drudge Report and sure enough, we were on their front page.

We quickly posted a doormat alerting visitors that they could sign up for future open government news: We were also able to quickly make sure that all content was up to date and that the page the traffic was going to was displaying recent, relevant links. When this happens with other sites, like Boing Boing or Reddit, we head over to to their posts linking to us and answer questions and comments, contact the original poster or direct users to other useful information. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way of engaging Drudge visitors on the Drudge Report, but we did tweet at their Twitter account other relevant Party Time updates.

Being able to quickly put up the doormat mentioned above is a huge asset for engagement. It allows us to direct visitors to certain pieces of content and other Sunlight properties that fit the demographic of the sites that they’re coming from. For example, we can direct Slashdot visitors to one set of links and direct Fark visitors to an entirely different set.  Knowing how our visitors are and where they’re coming from is key to making this happen and Chartbeat allows us to know who is who.

Have you used Chartbeat? Do you have an interesting uses for it?  What do you think of the service?

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