How to Track and Identify Your Social Community [VIDEO]

Nov 14, 2012

Yes, social media is great for sending out tweets and posting stories on Facebook. It can also be a valuable tool for staying on top of what’s going on in your local area or within your beat. There’s an ocean of story ideas, sources, news tips, photos, videos, firsthand breaking news accounts and local voices out there. A lot of it is untapped and below the “mainstream” radar. 

Here are 5 tools you can use to go scoop them up.

Twitter Search

What might people in your area be talking about? Make your searches pointed -- here's a search I did for "question 3 massachusetts." The tweets should be useful and tied to your local area. When you find your tweets, copy each URL to send in your assignment e-mail (here's how to do that).

Twitter Lists

First, figure out what you want to create a list for. Newsmakers in your city? The beat you cover? A topic your show covers? Then create your list (step-by-step directions here). Now you’ll want to add Twitter accounts to your list. The best way to begin this is to search on Twitter. Twitter will filter your search to show you the top results. Next, try doing an advanced search by location. For example, here’s a search for “mbta” near Boston: Here’s an example of a list. 


Not sure what Reddit is? It’s a big online community made up of many smaller communities. For example, LA has its own Reddit: and Boston has its own Reddit: You can look for Reddit communities by searching or by guessing. Every Reddit community can be found by finishing this URL: There is a lot of everything on Reddit and most of what you see will likely not be of journalistic value to you. But there are gems that can lead to story ideas and news tips. Learn more about Reddit here

YouTube Search

We all know YouTube as an endless well of funny cat videos, but it can be a terrific resource for local videos. You don’t always have the time and opportunity to capture video but you can rely on citizens in some cases. Consider a YouTube search after anything local happens that could have been captured on video by someone. Filter by “Upload date” to find the most recent videos.

Facebook search

Facebook allows you to search what people are saying publicly on Facebook. Execute a “Public Posts” search and browse through the results. The more specific your search term, the better. For example, this tool can be helpful if you are working on a story about a specific disease or illness people might be talking about. Don’t have a Facebook account? Try this:

Here is the video of the webinar:

Here are the slides from the webinar: