Social Searching Part 3 – Cultivating your social sources

Posted: February 2, 2011 in Data Journalism
Tags: , , , ,

The social web is free information but to create useful sources of information you need to filter out the relevant from the noise. My posts so far will help lead you to a story but often times what’s heard through the grapevine can be of really good use. Also, you might want someone in the know to glean more insight or get a nice quote. Here are some tools to help you cultivate social sources:

Cultivating your Social Sources

To find top tweeters by subject matter the easiest port of call is WeFollow. The home page has lists for areas such as music, social media, tech, etc but you can also do a search for terms. This will then take you to a list of ‘Most Influential’ or ‘Most Followers’. The first is the most useful but of course the more followers you have the more likely you are to be retweeted. The good and bad side is that clicking on the user does not take you to their twitter page. Instead you get a further break down of stats including the usual followers, updates and following but quite nicely you’re also presented with other interesting rankings they fall under. One issue I would have is that for the rankings, the information included is bio unless they haven’t entered one. Then it appears to be their latest tweet. I would like both pieces of information, especially since the site does not navigate to the users page.

A site which does and which has the user at heart is followformation. You can add your own category and even just find by city. You can enter your twitter details and with just one click, poof, you’re following. This, like wefollow, is very category based  but they seem to be working on specialities like the Olympics.

Now, if you work in journalism you know that most often journalists turn to the media for information. The term ‘journalist’ always puts a journalist as ease in regards to trust. Social media seems to be changing this paradigm but when you know someone’s job is to report the truth you want to use them as your source. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. So check out Muck Rack. It’s basically twitter but with just the journos. You can sort by news categories which they nicely call beats and view a list of the latest links and pictures. In fact it’s a very good news source.

Twitter’s Western-bias is very evident from these pages and if you’re looking for tweeters in a specific field of interest that isn’t trending then nothing beats a journalist’s nose. It actually doesn’t take that much time to sniff out great netizens and it’s really worth doing. One note of caution is that less is more. A lot of reporters have asked me: ‘How do I get more followers?” as if that is desirable. It may be a measure of influence but if you want to use them then they need to be nurtured. If someone is giving you foursquare updates and what they had for breakfast stop following them. Too many people on a list and you create noise which reduces the usefulness of all your following.

Thankfully a lot of people have cultivated their own lists and if they’re not private you can just follow theirs! To search twitter lists just go to tlists. Search for a term and it gives you a list with a break down of who created the list, how many members it has, how many people are following it and brilliantly, how many tweets a day it generates. There’s even a cloud of other terms generated by the list. And it’s just a one button click to follow. A wonderful option is to select the language.

The next step up is Listorious. It’s more complicated than tlists and looks needlessly so. Its ‘Ask the experts’ interview type feature is probably where it’s making revenue but I don’t like it and think there’s no such thing as an ‘expert’ on twitter. This seems to rate people by their amount of followers (which is bad) and you need to navigate quite a fair way into the search to get to a view of the list. The view is good however with more information on the list following than you get on twitter and some live tweets. You can also tweet a recommendation for the list. It’s a bit more work than tlists and looks intimidating but you get to see a lot more before having to go to twitter.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by La Gazette du Québec and 173 Sud, Nicola Hughes. Nicola Hughes said: Cultivating your social sources – tools for the job #socialmedia #datajournalism […]

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