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Social search tool Topsy: Twitter's encyclopedia

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Social search tool Topsy: Twitter's encyclopedia

Margaret Looney | September 10, 2013

For journalists who tap into social media to enhance their reporting, Topsy just made the task of finding relevant info a lot easier.

Through its social search function, Topsy recently made all tweets since Twitter's 2006 advent accessible to anyone for free. What's more, it made the 425 billion pieces of content easily searchable.

If you're looking for a quick list of tweets around a recent topic, Twitter's search function will do the job. But for indexing real-time social conversation, Topsy's co-founder and chief technology officer Vipul Ved Prakash focused on what's catching the most eyes.

“How do you make sense of 400 billion pieces of content?" Prakash said, as quoted in this New York Times post. “One, by ranking it. We do that ranking by looking at how much a particular piece of content is being cited by other people.”

In addition to searching tweets, you can also browse through links, photos, videos or your top influencers across 10 languages.

Digging into the annals for archived tweets isn't the only way journalists can use the tool. It's also useful for finding a wide breadth of tweets around breaking news or emergency journalism. Danny Sullivan, founding editor of Search Engine Land, used the tool to find information about Hurricane Sandy when it hit the East Coast in 2012.

And besides its hefty archive, the social search tool offers analytics that journalists can use to track their content across the Web. Compare up to three phrases or keywords to find popular links floating around Twitter, and the results will appear in a chart with plotted tweets. The free analytics results are limited to the past month, but the pro version offers more flexibility.

You can also search social trends across 10 languages. This function could come in handy next time you're writing a trend story and would like to see the traction of a certain issue over time on the social Web.

Try the tool yourself here.

IJNet Editorial Assistant Margaret Looney writes about the latest media trends, reporting tools and journalism resources.

@margylooney

Image CC-licensed on Flickr via Horia Varlan.

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