You can search social media sites like Twitter or Facebook using a variety of tools, both their internal search tools as well as external ones like Topsy.com or FBsearch.us. Another external search tool I recently came across is Social Mention. Social Mention distinguishes itself by allowing you to focus your search narrowly on types of social content: comments, social bookmarks, or blogs, for example.
Which Way the Wind Blows
It is also different because it attempts to provide sentiment analysis. Your search results return like any typical search engine, date ranked, listed in the center of the page. On the left-hand side, you see the difference.
First, you can immediately see how many contributors are talking about your search query and when the last mention was made. You can also see whether the trend of discussion is positive, neutral, or negative. This doesn’t seem to be entirely accurate, so consider it the same way you consider the warning flags in your favorite online legal research citator. You can click on the word negative to focus your search on just those type of results.
Save Your Search
Social Mention has the relatively unusual ability to save your search results as a downloadable spreadsheet. Once you have run a search – and applied a filter, like source filtering or sentiment filtering to show only positive results – you can select one of the comma-separated value (CSV) links on the right hand side. The spreadsheet contains a dozen rows, including title, description, and source. This may be an easier way of handling your search results – you can sort by the author, for example – than paging through results on the Web site.
Social search remains somewhat limited. While social media generates a huge amount of content, if you are looking for specific authors or individuals, you may not find them using social tools. Social Mention does not appear to index any Facebook content, which is one of the best locations for litigators to find information. But it can be an invaluable source for lawyers and librarians who are involved in business development efforts and current awareness on firm clients.