Google is and, for the time being, will always be my go-to search tool. Mostly out of habit, I visit Google for my every web search need. However, I am slowly discovering more search tools that give Google a run for its money. Google is great for searching web information or for finding quick and relevant information. But Google and similar search engines are particularly bad at finding valuable information on social media. As social media sites increasingly become the first place everyday people go to share breaking news and niche opinions, there is a great need for social media search tools.
Here is a list of five great social media search tools I tried this week. I discovered most of them from an article called “20 tools and apps for digital tools.”
1. Topsy– Search Twitter topics, trends and links by time and relevancy.
One of my favorite guilty pleasures is watching terrible dating reality TV shows such as The Bachelor. Every week, I waste an hour watching the show, and then I migrate to Twitter to read hashtags about what happened. Although Twitter allows you to sort through topics and hashtags to some extent, it has a fairly limited ability to sort with any great amount of specificity. In the future, I will be using Topsy for all of my social media/Bachelor needs. Topsy allows you to select a date range, sort by relevance and sort by category. This is particularly useful for actual journalism needs, such as finding information from a past breaking news event or sifting through a person’s tweets.
2. followerwonk– Learn about Twitter profiles by searching bios, followers and more.
Every week I gain a couple Twitter followers that are seemingly random until I read their Twitter bios. Their Twitter bios often include words like “journalism” or “entrepreneurship.” As if by magic, these people of the world, who are also interested in journalism and entrepreneurship, find me on the web. Most of the time, I am interested in their profile too, but I always wonder how they found me. Followerwonk may be this tool. It allows you to search through keywords in Twitter bios, follow users without leaving the page and view user analytics. The tool also provides extensive analysis of a Twitter user’s followers and follow habits in the “Analyze followers” and “Compare users” tabs. This tool is awesome! Any journalist can benefit from the endless sourcing opportunities here.
3. Banjo –View photos, tweets, posts and more by topic and breaking news.
More and more news websites are starting to use social media photos and first-hand tweets to add context to a breaking news story. We saw this in coverage of events such as the Boston bombing and Sandy Hook. However, a news website typically only selects a limited number of photos and tweets about a topic to show in a stream on its website. Banjo, on the other hand, provides a seemingly endless scroll of photos and posts about topics and breaking news events. This week, I took a look at photos and links Banjo had grouped surrounding the New York building. I scrolled through endless pictures posted by originally by Instagram users on the scene that day. This tool is really unbelievable. Instagram and Twitter make it difficult to sort and filter through photos of a news event, often grouping photos ranging in quality under the same topic. Every photo I saw on Banjo was extremely relevant to the news event, and since they were user posted, they were photos I couldn’t find anywhere else. A description really doesn’t do this tool justice.
4. Storyful – Search topic across multiple social platforms at once.
Storyful takes a topic that interests you and searches across multiple relevant platforms at once. Instead of limiting search results to a list of links, the tool actually opens new windows on various websites with your query already entered for you. This tool is only available as a Google Chrome app, but it is well-worth trying out the browser if only to try out the tool.
5. Leap2 – Generate visual search results from websites and social sites.
Leap2 is a search engine tool that was developed in my hometown of Kansas City. The founders have a workspace at the Kansas City Startup Village, and I saw the tool in action at an open house there last summer. Kansas City has a booming entrepreneurial scene at the village and city-wide, but more on that in a later post. The search engine is designed to be a new-age search engine. While most search engines mainly provide a list of web links, Leap2 searches websites and social media platforms around your search and presents results in a visual way. I particularly like that a click on a result generates a small pop-up that doesn’t immediately take you away from the page. Leap2 rethinks the way a social audience wants to receive search results.