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10 Social Network search engines for journalists

Google Realtime, the search engine which was intended to integrate social network updates into Google, has been suspended, the company announced at the weekend.

Whether it returns at all remains to be seen – in my opinion, it’s the sort of tool Google can’t afford to be without.

It was a very useful tool for journalists too, especially as the ‘say what you see’ culture on Twitter exploded, providing excellent first-hand accounts and sources for reporters, especially local ones.

But there are plenty of other social network search engines worth checking out. Here are 10 of the best.

1. Social Mention 

socialmention.com

socialmention.com

Socialmention was originally intended to be a one-stop shop for firms to keep an eye on what is being said about their brands – but it also works very well for other keywords, such as names and places. Initially, it brings up  all sorts of results from all over the place – bookmarks, blogs etc – but use the filter ‘microblogs’ and it narrows itself down to, generally, Facebook and Twitter although I did see a couple of more niche ones come up. The numbers in the top left-hand side ‘strength, sentiment, passion and reach’ are more to do with people searching for their brands. Of particular interest though, is:

(1) Top keywords – can be used as supplementary searches to find more information

(2) Top users – draws on the people most using the word you’ve searched for – good for finding people

(3) Time filter – like Google Realtime, enables you to widen or narrow your search time window.

Does it offer RSS feeds? Yes

2. Samepoint.com

Samepoint.com

samepoint.com

Samepoint.com is a lot less fussy than socialmention.com. Type in your search time and it will instantly bring up results. At first, it brings up ‘Total Social Media’ which isn’t sorted by time. However, the options to filter on ‘Realtime Twitter’ [1], ‘Realtime Facebook’ [2] and ‘LinkedIn’ [3] – the latter being something of a rareity on social network search engines – does lead to a most-recent-first results list.

Does it provide RSS? Yes – but not in time order

3. Whostalkin.com

whostalkin.com

Whostalking.com strikes me as the sort of search engine I’d check in with every morning if I was still a reporter, especially a patch reporter. It allows you to search through specific social networks in addition to a general search of networks. The list of social networks is quite impressive, going beyond Twitter and Facebook (the former listed under blogs, the latter under networks confusingly) to include linkedin, myspace, Ning and Bebo. A useful additional tool is inbuilt WordPress search to check blogs – interesting given the rise in very short blogging which WordPress has been promoting.

It also makes video and image search very simple and has a section for forums too. Forums – the original social networks, but often forgotten as being such.

Does it provide RSS? No

4. kgbpeople.com

kgbpeople.com

kgbpeople.com

At first glance, this site seems quite odd, with an off-putting name to boot. But try it out with your own name and it becomes quite interesting. It searches through a variety of social networks, but will also trawl for pictures, blogs referencing or written by a person, and even has a look through Flickr too. For journalists trying to track someone down, it’s very useful. One drawback – it can get confused by usernames if they aren’t the same as a person’s real name.

Does it offer RSS? No – but probably doesn’t need to.

5. Kurrently.com

kurrently.com

kurrently.com

While Kurrently.com restricts itself to searching Twitter and Facebook, it does so very well. A simple screen, and the ability to filter between the two social networks, makes for an easy user experience.

Does it provide RSS? Yes

6. Openbook

openbook.com

There used to be two good search engines dedicated to Facebook: Booshaka and openbook. Booshaka seems to have moved on to new stuff, leaving Openbook on its own. It is simple and effective – and very good if you want to drill down into Facebook.

Does it provide RSS? No

7. Twitter Search

search.twitter.com

search.twitter.com

Ok, so we’re in danger of entering stating the bloody obvious territory but if I’m including Openbook, I’ve got to include this. Twittersearch still remains the best search tool for having a good poke around Twitter, allowing to search for specific people, tweets from locations, biography searches and types of tweets – eg retweets, mentions, tweets to someone and tweets back.

Does it provide RSS? Yes

8. Bing Social

Bing Social

Bing Social

I’m not a huge fan of Bing but its social search is very good. It searches various social media, but is dominated by Twitter, and allows to search for ‘best match’ or ‘most recent.’ A nice idea is that it also returns links shared on social networks relating to your search. Nice, but nothing hugely special.

Does it provide RSS? No

9. 48ers.com

48ers.com

48ers.com

48ers.com is good in that it makes it easy to search not just Twitter and Facebook but also Digg and Delicious. But it’s also nothing special. Worth bearing in mind.

Does it provide RSS? No

10. Joongel.com

joongel.com

joongel.com

joongel.com differs from any other site on this list because once you type in your search term and choose whether to look for blog posts or social media, the site becomes little more than a toolbar, taking the user to each of the individual social networks. This makes it handy for longer, deeper searches which might form part of an investigation.

Does it provide RSS? No

Why do I mention RSS?

The quickest way to bring social network search under your own control is to set up RSS searches and plug them into an RSS reader, such as Google Reader. For details on how to do that, click here

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