Tonight many journalists will have Tweetdeck or similar social media dashboards ‘tuned in’ to coverage of the US election, typically by creating columns to monitor activity on key hashtags like #Election2016. But on a big occasion like this, the volume of tweets becomes unmanageable. Here then are a few quick techniques to surface tweets that are likely to be most useful to reporters:
Picking the right hashtags: Hashtagify
Hashtagify is a tool for finding out the popularity of certain hashtags. Type a tag into the search box and you’ll get a network diagram like the one shown above — but you can also switch to ‘Table mode’ to get a list of tags that you can sort by popularity, correlation, weekly or monthly trend.
Each of these hashtags can be added to Tweetdeck to give you more options.
Exclude retweets, specify language
When you add a new column in Tweetdeck based on a search term, expand the ‘content’ options to reveal some useful filters. One of the first things to do is exclude retweets.
But you can also use this filter to specify tweets in a particular language: very useful if your audience speaks a language other than the one which is dominating results.
Only seeing tweets with media or links
You can also use this filter to specify that you only want to see tweets with a particular type of media: if you’re looking for images, video, or links, then this can help remove the others.
Filter to only see verified user tweets
The next filter to expand is the Users filter. This is particularly useful for only showing results from verified accounts. Verified accounts tend to belong to journalists, politicians — and celebrities. The last two, of course, have become staple reaction fodder.
Filter to only see results from members of a Twitter list
If you’ve put in the effort to create a Twitter list — or can find a relevant list that someone else has created — this can also be a useful filter so that you only see tweets from users relevant to your audience (for example local figures, or those in a particular field.
Filter to only see tweets that are most retweeted, liked, or responded to
The final filter is where the action really is. Use this to filter down your whizzy stream of election-related streets to those which elicity the strongest reactions, whether that’s retweets, likes, replies, or some combination of those.
Use reverse image search
Finally, as this is the Trump-Clinton election, expect some hoaxes and dodgy rumours. To that end, run any images through Google’s reverse image search to see if those pictures of ‘election fraud’ are actually ballot boxes from Birmingham last year.