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Archives: March 2010

10 Ways to track what people are saying about you on Twitter

Social media has brought out the narcissist in all of us — we want to know what people are saying about us. Luckily, the following tools make it easy to track what other Twitter users are saying about you — or any other subject.

1. Social Mention

This unique search engine for social media allows you to enter your name or any other search term and track where it was mentioned across the web, including Twitter. Social Mention has a slew of neat features: it calculates the number of retweets, the sentiment of each tweet (whether it was positive or negative), how likely Twitter users will mention you again, and what were the most common words and hashtags included in those tweets. You can also create e-mail alerts based on your search.

2. TweetDeck

If you’re a regular Twitter user, you’ve probably heard about TweetDeck, a downloadable tool for tracking recent tweets. TweetDeck not only allows you to track recent mentions and direct messages, but also allows the user to create a constantly updating column dedicated to a particular search term.

3. Twitterfall

If you want the effect and features of TweetDeck, but don’t want to install software, Twitterfall is the tool for you. Twitterfall gets its name because recent tweets and search terms cascade like a waterfall down the screen. You can log in to Twitterfall to follow your friends tweets and of course mentions of your Twitter username.

4. Twitrratr

Twittrratr (“Twitter rater”) allows you to enter any search term and see whether recent tweets about that subject were positive or negative. The system works by identifying positive or negative words such as “love,” “cool,” or “bad.” However, you’ll have to look at each tweet to determine if the tweet was properly categorized. Some tweets, for example, include “negative” words, but are actually positive.

5. Retweetrank

If you want to find out who is retweeting you, you can enter your username into Retweetrank and receive a list of recent retweets. Retweetrank also lets you know how your retweets compare to others by a number that corresponds to your rank compared to other Twitter users and a percentile number (think SATs).

6. BackTweets

If you want to track what Twitter users are posting links to your site, you can visit BackTweets, enter your URL, and the site will present recent tweets about your site in reverse chronological order. The best feature of BackTweets is that your username does not have to be included in the site for it to be be listed and even catches tweets with shortened URLs.


One of Twitter’s not-so-secret features is the ability to “favorite” tweets by clicking the star icon next to the tweet. Favstar lets you see who has favorited your tweets or the tweets of any other Twitter user.

8. TweetReach

With the millions of people using Twitter every day, a single tweet can spread around the world. Find out how many people potentially saw your tweets with TweetReach. The site calculates the number of people that saw your tweets based on the number of followers of the people who retweeted it. The site assumes that every one of your followers’ followers read each tweet, but it is still an interesting way to track how far a tweet has spread.

9. UMapper

UMapper, an online tool for creating versatile online maps, recently introduced a tool to embed a map that contains recent tweets in a particular location. You can, for example, create a map like the one below centered on New York and input a search term in the box in the bottom corner. The map will display the location of recent tweets that include that term. The embeddable map can be posted on your website, blog, or social media profile.

10. Twitter Search

Of course, if you don’t want to bother with fancy online tools or software, you can simply go to and enter your name or other search term to view recent tweets that contain those words.

Click here to follow 10,000 Words on Twitter

Also on 10,000 Words:

25 Tools for getting more out of Twitter

How Twitter saved my career… and my life

7 Amazing Twitter visualizations

Mediabistro Course

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The Digital Journalist's Handbook – Available now in Europe and Asia

The Digital Journalist’s Handbook, the must-have guide to the skills every journalist must know to thrive in today’s modern newsrooms, is now available in Canada, Europe and Asia via You can order your copy directly from the retailers below and click here to learn more about the book.

Amazon Canada
Amazon France
Amazon Germany
Amazon Japan
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Your purchase of The Handbook also helps support 10,000 Words and keeps this site a free resource. If you haven’t ordered a copy of the book, do it now — it’s the best investment you’ll ever make in your career.

Also on 10,000 Words:

How I successfully turned my blog into a book: The Writing
How I successfully turned my blog into a book: Publishing and production

Social Media Tools

Simple and interactive guides to the health-care reform bill

The recently passed health-care reform bill is a landmark piece of legislation, but understanding how it affects individual Americans can be tough. Instead of just giving readers a broad overview of how the bill affects them, several news organizations created interactive guides that allow readers to input or select information about themselves and understand what part of the health-care reform bill applies to them.

The Washington Post

The New York Times


The Times and The Post use a flowchart and an input form, respectively, to provide insight into the bill. CNN uses a photo slideshow, an online journalism standby, to illustrate the intricacies of the bill.

News audiences not only want to know how the bill affects them, but also how their legislator voted. Some news media created visualizations that explain how people voted, which for visual learners functions much better than a simple list.

Sacramento Bee

The New York Times

The Times visualizes House votes on the bill several different ways. There are bar charts, a map, and traditional lists all on one page.

In a forehead smacking, “why didn’t I think of that” move, ProPublica created a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate versions of the health care bill.

Finally, The New York Times puts health care reform in context with an interactive timeline of the history of health care in America.

The interesting thing about the health-care reform bill is while the outcome of the bill was up in the air, the legislation dominated the news for weeks, giving news organizations plenty of time to form a multimedia or interactive strategy. Yet, most of the subsequent online coverage, save for the above examples, were text stories and links.

If a big story is about to break and you have resources you can dedicate to making your online coverage more interesting, you should always do so.

Also on 10,000 Words:

Do you have a multimedia emergency plan?
How news media are covering Haiti using multimedia, social networks
How news media covered the 2008 presidential inauguration

How to use a video trailer to share your work with the world

If you’ve ever sat in a movie theater, you’ve undoubtedly been excited by a movie trailer that promised action, suspense, and promoted a great movie. The trailer probably highlighted the best bits of the upcoming movie or gave you just enough info that made you want to watch it once it was released.

If movie studios can use trailers to get people excited about their work, why can’t journalists?

News media like CNN and the BBC often create trailers that promote upcoming stories or projects and, despite being made for the small screen, have a cinematic air to them. BBC Sport touts its coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games with a trailer that makes curling look grand and dramatic.

The video below is from Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and is a tease to an upcoming project about deforestation.

The contents of a trailer are only limited by your imagination. Print media can also get in on the action by producing video trailers for print stories and posting and distributing them via video-sharing sites like YouTube.

Of course trailers aren’t limited to specific stories or projects, you can also create a trailer to highlight of some of your past work. However, unlike a traditional reel that contains one (often boring) clip after another, your video can be more dramatic and entertaining like the example below (NSFW language and imagery, but clearly awesome).

Nobody will know how awesome you are until you tell them so create a project that showcases the unique qualities of your project or talents.

Also on 10,000 Words:

15 Journalists’ outstanding personal portfolios
Pump up your portfolio via mobile or video
20 Photojournalists’ fantastic portfolios