There are quite a few tools available to you (for free!) that you can use to narrow down what you're looking for in the vast realm of social search information. You can use these tools to keep track of certain keywords, specific mentions of names (including company information), various topics or concepts, breaking news on categories you're watching, and a lot more. The trick is simply finding a tool that works for you personally, and there are many to choose from.
Google Alerts has been around in various iterations for many years now, and while it's a basic tool, it really works quite well. Here's how Google Alerts works: you figure out what word, phrase, name, or company you'd like to track. You type this into the Google Alerts search field, determine how often you want to hear about it (hourly, daily, weekly), and then hit "Submit". From then on, every time this item is found anywhere on the Web, Google will deliver an email alert to you letting you know where it was found with a link to the direct information.
RSS feeds are one of the most efficient ways online to keep track of targeted information. Most websites offer RSS feeds (syndicated updates from websites and social search), and they are easy to subscribe to. In addition, there are increasingly sophisticated feed readers - software applications and/or Web-based tools that present your RSS feeds in an intuitive, easily readable fashion - that can present your monitored feeds via not only your Web browser, but also your tablet, smartphones, or other mobile device. In other words, RSS feeds can follow you wherever you need to be, making them one of the most versatile social search monitoring tools you can use on the Web.
Social search monitoring tools
There are a wide variety of great social search information filtering tools out there, all promising different things. However, if you're looking for a general filter tool that will allow you to keep track of different social media accounts, keywords and phrases, and monitor your overall social media presence, then the following two tools will make your online social search life much easier:
- Hootsuite: There are different versions of Hootsuite, both free and paid, and depending on what you're aiming to do, for most people, the free version of Hootsuite will work just fine. With this tool, you can set up several different social media accounts from which to monitor within the Hootsuite dashboard (including Twitter, Google+, and Facebook), keep track of different social searches, and interact directly with people via the Hootsuite dashboard from any of your social media accounts.
- Tweetdeck: Tweetdeck works very much the same as Hootsuite, except it's targeted just for Twitter use. Since there is so much information shared on a daily basis via Twitter, it's difficult to filter this information in a meaningful way. Tweetdeck does a good job of helping you do this somewhat difficult task; you can sort by keyword, phrase, keep track of breaking news and events, and much more. Twitter can be overwhelming simply because of the amount of information shared, but it's an important source of social search content, and well worth mining.
Social search: it's a lot of data, but it's manageable
As the Web evolves, there's going to be more data, not less. This is a good thing simply because of the scope of information that is available to users; however, it can be somewhat difficult to filter this information into a meaningful set of data. Using the social search monitoring tools mentioned in this article can get you started on a much more streamlined use of your Web search time, in addition to giving you thoughtful insights into information you find on the Web. Because most search engines use social signals as a vital part of how they present their search engine results pages, it's important to be able to process this information in an efficient manner.