Tools for journalists: Using Yatterbox for a different view on Twitter

One of the best things about Twitter – and there are many – is that it can give anyone a voice. That’s huge for journalists, turning Tweetdeck into a modern-day radio scanner, only tailored to just the bits you’re interested in, and involving many more people.

However, the downside to that approach is that it can make verification very hard. If you’ve got a Tweetdeck column, then you know you can see every Tweet which includes an important phrase to you, eg a place, but you need to be looking at it all the time.

To conquer that, you might  use a tool like Twilert ($9 a month to have every tweet involving a keyword which is important to you feels like a bargain) which will ping you an email whenever a Tweet containing an important word or phrase crops up. That solves one problem, to a point, but what about verification?

That’s where Yatterbox comes in. Aimed at people who spend their lives managing the reputations of brands, Yatterbox works on the principle that the Tweets some people write about a brand or issue have more impact that those written by others.

So it set about creating comprehensive lists of the people it feels have the greatest impact with their Tweets, and created three lists: Journalists, UK policy and EU policy. I suspect more are on the way. The help video which launches when you first sign up makes it very clear the aim is to help PRs keep track of what people PRs probably consider important are saying.

That’s both a hinderance and a benefit for journalists who want to use it. Will Perrin, the man behind Talkaboutlocal and the Kings Cross Environment website, probably has greater insight and following into events and issues in that area than any journalist, yet under Yatterbox’s criteria, doesn’t appear in searches, whereas as journalists who might just mention Kings Cross while passing through do.

So it’s not a tool which guarantees you’ll pick up the breaking news information about anything said about a place, person or subject, nor catch every opinion about that key word,  but it does provide a window on the world as seen through a certain lens.

And for me it’s proved to be a very useful lens. I set up an alert for the borough I live in and have been impressed by a) how often it has been referred to and b) how thorough the list of journalists Yatterbox has created is – packed as it is with thousands of regional journalists.

I also set up a search for my football club, and again, it’s meant I no longer miss a Tweet from Dave Seddon – the Lancashire Evening Post’s PNE writer – whenever he includes PNE or Preston in a Tweet. As a result, it filters out ‘fan banter’ but does include passing references to PNE from any other journalist, or, randomly, UK MP.

For editors, it feels like a very interesting tool to see what other journalists are saying about your brand, as well as what Yatterbox defines as ‘key influencers.’ For sports writers, it’s a chance to see what other journalists are saying. For political journalists, it’s a way of seeing what the people you writer about are saying about you and the issues which you’re covering.

For me, the definition of key influencers is a little too tight at the moment, so it’s a tool to use alongside the likes of Twilert, Tweetdeck and TweetBeep. It reminds me somewhat of a news search tool the Press Association used to run back in the late 1990s, back when seeing what other regional newspapers were writing wasn’t as easy. Times have changed, but Yatterbox feels to be really useful.

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