Say goodbye to Twitter search, say hello to twXplorer

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Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a series of reports from five Digital First Media journalists who attended ONA13 through the Digital First Represents program.

Twitter is a crucial tool in the modern reporter’s notebook. Why not order an upgrade?

My favorite new free (ding, ding, ding) Twitter tool is twXplorer, which is a much smarter tool for searching Twitter. Here are some of the things twXplorer can do, and tips on how you can use it for your next story.

twXplorer can: 

  • Search any term. It’ll offer you the most common related terms, hashtags and links on anything you search for. This helps you dig deep.
  • Search in 12 different languages. This is great for bilingual communities, like Colorado, and international reporting.
  • Save “snapshots” to return to later. This could be great for keeping tabs on the various topics that you cover in your beat.

For example:
Hypothetical scenerio: I am the new beat reporter to cover Colorado State University. I search “CSU” and twXplorer returns several recent Tweets with the term CSU, including this one:

It returns tweets for you just like this, allowing you to reply, retweet favorite or follow from the twXplorer site.

It also provides a list of common related terms and common related hashtags.

On the list of common related terms of my “CSU” search was “kappas khaotikkorruption.” This curious term has been used 24 times recently in connection with CSU, and it’s also hashtagged 24 times, making it the second most popular hashtag related to CSU.

I clicked on it to bring up the tweets and see what it was about. It’s about a party, it turns out. Probably not a story. But worth keeping an eye on.

The search results screen also provides several links from Twitter that mention CSU, including a Reporter-Herald article that has been tweeted multiple times.

Pretty cool stuff, right? By comparison, here is what happens when you search “CSU” with Twitter’s default search bar:

All content, no context. You get a long stream of posts about CSU. Many are still useful, but they are out of context and don’t reflect trends. Example:

A lot of what you aren’t looking for. twXplorer’s trend filter sifts through the spam and provides more meaning to your search. It’s precise and intuitive while Twitter’s default search is more like firing a shotgun in the dark with the hope you hit something. Example:

Looking for more tips on using Twitter as a journalist? 

Join the discussion:
Have you tried twXplorer yet? What do you think about it? How does it compare to Twitter’s advanced search option? What features would you like to see added?

Aimee Heckel

By Aimee Heckel

Aimee Heckel committed herself to journalism in kindergarten. She's a features writer for the Boulder Daily Camera in Colorado and a member of Digital First Media's Idealab team. Heckel also writes a humor fashion column, a fitness column and has covered nearly every beat during her 13 years as a professional journalist. She is a full-time mobile journalist -- the "modern Lois Lane."

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