It’s downright amazing what you can find out from Twitter’s formidable search engine. Here’s just some of what you can do with Twitter’s publicly available feeds:
• See what’s happening on your beat: Basic, but no less awesome. Follow the Twitter feeds of any agencies, officials and other contacts on your beat.
• Find people on the scene or read reactions to events: Twitter has an excellent built-in search engine that allows you to search by keywords, location, date and more. It’s a gold mine to the journo who takes the time to search correctly.
More: Even if you aren’t searching for a particular topic, a Twitter search is a great way to do a fishing expedition for events (try searching for crash, fire, hurt, etc.). Also be sure to try common misspellings in the keyword search.
• Search for someone at a particular place: Use the Twitter search with Foursquare or Gowalla to find an eyewitness in a particular location at the time news occurred. Search for the name of the location or keyword with added operators for 4sq or gowal.la. Like this.
• See what topics are trending nationally and locally: Your home page on Twitter will show you what’s trending right now either network wide or by your location. Also check out Trendsmap (using data from another great site, What The Trend). For instance, check out this local trendsmap data to see what topics keep coming to the top of Twitter in the DC area right now.
• Watch real-time reaction: Twitterfall is a great site for watching developing reactions and trends. Watch one of the trending topics or search for keywords to see them “fall” in as they’re tweeted.
• Get a photo from the scene: There are lots of sites that allow you to search Twitter photos, but plugging twitpic OR yfrog OR flickr OR tweetphoto (plus a location or keyword) into Twitter Search will also turn up a lot of pictures. See one you’d like to use? Be sure to ask.
The sites here are just the tip of the iceberg – there are thousands more apps out there using this network to display useful trends and info.
Excellent recommended post on the subject from Web Up The Newsroom.