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Tool of the week for journalists – Facebook Search

Tool of the week: Facebook Search

What is it? A tool that allows you to search Facebook without logging in

How is it of use to journalists? Social media searches have become a key part of newsgathering process. This tool is a search engine for Facebook. It allows you to search if you are not logged in of if you don’t have a Facebook account.

Based on Facebook’s API, it allows you to search posts, photos, people, pages, groups and events.

As well as being useful for searching by keyword, it is also a good way to test to see if the page for your news site comes up in a search.

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Tool of the week for journalists – Greplin, to search your private files and profiles

Tool of the week: Greplin

What is it? A private search engine for your personal files and social media accounts

How is it of use to journalists? Greplin allows you to search your Gmail, Google Docs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Dropbox accounts in the same way as you would use Google to search the web.

Recommended by Amy Webb at US journalism conference #ONA11 as “a way of sort of defragging your brain”, Greplin is a tool that can help journalists find a key piece of information in a second or two.

For example, you may be working on a story about a company or subject and have information in emails, your Dropbox account, Google Calendar and LinkedIn. One search in Greplin will allow you to surface the source documents and references to the company or topic.

The basic subscription is free and includes those accounts listed above. You can unlock services such as Delicious by tweeting about Greplin, and there are some services, such as Evernote, only available with Greplin Premium.

There is a free iPhone app and also a browser extension for Chrome, which is well worth adding. This enables you to search your files simply by prefixing your query with a “g”.

 

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Ten technical Twitter tips for journalists

So you think you know Twitter? But do you know how to archive tweets, set up an RSS feed of a Twitter stream or have private group chat?

Here are some practical, technical tips to help you:

1. Learn to love Twitter’s own advanced search. Since being updated earlier this year, Twitter’s search options have become much more powerful than they once were. You can use the advanced search page, but it’s worth learning a few shortcut commands you can use on the Twitter homepage. For example,

Type to: in the search box on Twitter’s home page to get messages sent to you or to a particular username.

Find local tweets using near: and within: This is a tip sent by journalism student Jeroen Kraan @KraanJ when we were discussing Twitter tips on @journalismnews.

There is a list of more Twitter advanced search commands here.

2. Search tweets using Topsy. Topsy is Google for social media, a search engine that allows you dig part way into the unimaginably vast Twitter archive.

3. Get to know other search tools. Search tweets using Snap Bird. This is a really handy tool that allows you to search a user’s timeline or your own account. Try PostPost to search and “strip search” your timeline. PostPost will ask for your email address, send you a link and then you can dig deep within your timeline, searching for a specific hashtag or user.

4. Set up an RSS feed. You can set up feeds of your own or any other user’s Twitter updates.

To add a feed of tweets from a user copy and paste the following, replacing xxxx with the user name.

http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/xxxx.rss.

This method doesn’t work for Google Reader but is compatible with RSS readers such as NetNewsWire.

To set up a keyword RSS feed use the following URL, replacing Journalism.co.uk / journalism jobs with your search query.

http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=journalism.co.uk

http://search.twitter.com/search.rss?q=journalism jobs

There’s also this really handy tool from Sociable.co. This allows you to set up an RSS feed for a username, Twitter list or keyword.

5. Archive your tweets. You can archive a hashtag or tweets sent from your account or another user’s account using Twapperkeeper. This is a particularly useful way if you want to search for a tweet you sent some months or even years ago.

6. Verify tweets. The HoverMe browser extension for Chrome is useful for verifying Twitter sources. Once installed and you hover over a Twitter profile photograph, you can see what other online accounts that user has and although not fool-proof, it will give you some idea of whether they are a real person with LinkedIn, YouTube and Delicious accounts and, helpfully, a Klout score, which measures online influence.

7. Here’s a tip for TweetDeck users who share the management of a Twitter account. One limitation of TweetDeck is the inability to be able to create a column of tweets sent from your account, something you can do in other applications such as HootSuite. The workaround is to set up a new Twitter account, follow the one (or more) account you manage and set up a TweetDeck column for “all friends”. This is our solution at Journalism.co.uk, where several people respond to tweets.

For this to work you must always use a character before the @ as tweets beginning @username can only be seen by people who follow you and that person.  For example, use .@joebloggs and not @joebloggs when writing tweets that begin with a username.

8. Have private, group chats by starting tweets with !b. New Twitter tool !blether allows you to start a group, private chat with people who follow you. After authenticating this tool you can use !b at the beginning for a tweet to begin a conversation. Useful for chats during conferences.

9. Monitor Twitter lists. How often do you make use of other people’s Twitter lists? Journalists seem to frequently overlook these existing lists where people have already done the legwork for you in terms of collating lists of useful people to follow. For example, a journalist following a story such as an uprising in an Arab country, a financial story or celebrity gossip can simply follow a list someone else has created.

Did you know that Journalism.co.uk has Twitter lists for UK regional journalists, UK broadcast journalists, UK press public relations, UK consumer journalists, etc? Send us a tweet if we have missed adding you to the correct list.

10. Familiarise yourself with how to read and send tweets via SMS. You never know when you might need to send or read a tweet via SMS. Even if you have a smartphone you may find yourself unable to use a 3G or WiFi signal. The number you need to save in your contacts is 86444 (for UK Vodafone, Orange, 3 and O2 customers). (Other country codes are listed here.) The command you need to remember or to save is ON. Text ON to the above number and you will be able to follow the commands to receive and send tweets.

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Tool of the week for journalists – Topsy, real-time search for the social web

Tool of the week: Topsy

What is it? A search engine and analytics for the social web

How is it of use to journalists? Topsy is a really handy search tool for monitoring what is being discussed on the social web.

Search for a keyword or phrase and you will be presented with news articles, tweets, videos and photos. Search results are returned visually, so you can see icons and avatars beside the source.

What is particlularly useful is the ability to see how frequently a term is being used. For example, a search for “Knox” will return Twitter mentions, articles and videos. You can also click on “experts” to see what recognised news providers have published.

A search for “phone hacking” returns results and also shows the number of times the keyword has been used in the last hour, day, week, month and all time. You can also get these results shown on a graph, create and email alert or set up an RSS feed from a keyword.

You can carry out advanced searches, enabling you to include or exclude additional terms, languages and set a date range or drill down and search for a keyword used by a particular Twitter user.

As a journalist you can not only use Topsy to help you locate sources and monitor rumours (such as team talk by football fans), you can use it to add colour to an article or feature.

For example, you can use Topsy to tell you that interest in the “Amanda Knox” case has been such that her name has been mentioned 516 mentions in the last hour (the search was carried out at 4.30pm on Monday, 3 October), 3,804 times in the past day and 16,000 times overall.

 

 

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