4 Free Tools to Help You Socially Monitor Your Brand

social media toolsDo you know what people are saying about your brand? Do you want to know how to monitor these conversations?

Regardless of the size of your business, chances are good people are talking about you and your brand via social networks and blogs. In this article I’ll cover four free monitoring tools to help you get started.

Getting Started: How do people talk about you?

A good place to find how people know and speak of your brand is to look at the keywords and phrases they use to find your website.

You can find these metrics in the analytics package you’re using with your website. If you’re not using an analytics package like Google Analytics, Webtrends or Clicky, then brainstorm keywords and phrases that you may have heard clients/customers use in discussions you have had with them.

You’ll need to decide what tools you will put in your brand-monitoring toolbox. There are a myriad of tools to choose from! There are websites, applications, software and email alerts galore! That’s just to name a few. Here are four free brand-monitoring tools:

Monitoring Tools

#1: Google Email Alert System

You can sign up for Google Alerts quickly, easily and relatively painlessly! Using those keywords and phrases from your preliminary research, you can elect to have any instance of those keywords and phrases in combination with your brand, product or service as Google finds them online sent straight to your inbox.

For example, I work for Harrisburg International Airport (HIA), a regional airport located in central Pennsylvania. HIA knows their brand is often primarily searched for and referred to as “Harrisburg Airport,” “HIA airport” and “MDT airport.” So I’m signed up to receive Google Alerts for not only our full company name, but also the three keyword phrases listed.

google alerts

Enter the topic you wish to monitor, then click Preview to see the type of results you'll receive.

Anytime Google indexes any mention in search results of the four alerts I am signed up for, I receive an email notification in my inbox. The notification is a direct hyperlink to the article, website, blog, product review, etc., wherein the keyword or phrase appeared. I can click on the link and be taken directly to the location of the brand mention.

google alerts email

By receiving the email alerts you set up with Google Alerts, you'll be able to have access to brand and keyword/phrase mentions as soon as they're indexed by Google in search results.

#2: SocialMention

SocialMention allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real time. SocialMention monitors 100+ social media properties directly, including Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google, and so forth.

It also tracks what your competitors are saying as well. It can be accessed directly from the tool’s website or you can download the widget and add it to your website to have convenient access to buzz about your brand right from your blog or corporate site. Or, also available is the search plugin that allows you to select SocialMention from within your browser’s search options.

It’s straightforward and easy to use. You simply type the brand, product, service name or keywords/phrase into the search field, select where you would like to search the social sphere for the search term(s) you have entered and click the Search button. I recommend searching all of the categories, but if you’re limited on time and resources, narrowing your search breadth and depth may be a good place to start.

social mention

SocialMention also provides the ability to narrow or broaden your brand monitoring as you like.

Based on your search criteria, SocialMention will return all of the mentions of your brand or keyword/phrase across the web.

Within the results, you’ll be provided a number of statistics, not just the instances of brand/keyword mentions. Based on SocialMention’s search metrics, they’ll provide you sentiment ratings, top keywords used in conjunction with your brand, top users of your brand name (those mentioning it the most), strength, passion, reach and more.

You’re able to click on the links where your brand is mentioned which facilitates a direct response to the person or party mentioning your brand or keyword/phrase.

While these provided metrics are not completely scientific, they’re a good reference point for understanding the nature of the types of conversations and comments surrounding your brand.

social mention

Within SocialMention's search results, you click the links and are taken to exactly where your brand mention occurred on the web.

#3: TweetDeck

To narrow down where you monitor your brand, TweetDeck offers you a simple way to view multiple conversations and searches from one location. You can use the dashboard in multiple locations such as laptop, desktop, smartphone and tablet.

tweetdeck

TweetDeck is your personal real-time browser, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google Buzz and more.

TweetDeck is a multifunctional tool. It allows you to save Twitter keyword searches; hashtag searches; monitor your Twitter followers’ tweets, Twitter lists, and @ replies; and permits you to tweet from your account(s) too. You’re not just limited to tweeting with TweetDeck, you can also update Facebook profiles and LinkedIn accounts.

tweetdeck

You can monitor your brand mentions as they happen and respond just as quickly!

The power of TweetDeck and other similar dashboards like HootSuite, CoTweet or Seesmic, is the ability to see tweets (conversations, comments, feedback) regarding your brand and keyword/phrases in real time.

#4: Technorati

To monitor the blogosphere for what bloggers are posting about your brand, I recommend Technorati. It’s an online tool that searches a blog directory of nearly 1.3 million blogs for all mentions of the brand or keyword/phrases that you enter in the search field.

technorati

Technorati is the world's first and largest blog search engine and robust community blogging platform.

When the search results are compiled, you have a listing of posts for perusal to again determine what kinds of product and service reviews, comments, feedback, stories and more are being shared regarding your brand.

Using Technorati for monitoring your brand via blogs allows you to post comments and feedback on the blog posts. Yet another tool that permits you to join in the conversation about your brand.

The search results you garner from Technorati blog searches can be a powerful tool in finding and building a network of blogger brand ambassadors. When you find your brand mentioned in a blog post, take the time to read it, and comment. If questions are raised about your brand, product or service in the comments on a blog post, feel free to answer the questions. Many bloggers who take the time to write about your brand will welcome your participation in the comments/conversation. Use these opportunities for involvement to build your network of brand ambassadors, as often these folks are some of your biggest fans and advocates!

These four FREE tools outlined are a small sampling of what’s available for brand monitoring. There are many options, both free and paid, such as JitterJam, Vocus, Radian6 and HubSpot. They’re expansive in their reporting and capabilities as monitoring tools.

When deciding which monitoring tools are best for your brand’s needs, take into account all of these considerations: what, where, how and why you are monitoring.

This will help you plan for and hopefully succeed in brand monitoring and give you a roadmap for how and where to participate in the conversations about your brand in the social sphere.

What are your thoughts? What tools have you considered for brand monitoring? Are you currently engaged in brand monitoring? Is it helping you have a better understanding of how people perceive your brand, products or services? Leave your comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Stephanie Gehman

Stephanie Gehman is the marketing manager for Harrisburg International Airport in Pennsylvania. She writes, blogs, speaks and teaches on the full gambit of traditional and emerging marketing touch points. Other posts by »




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  • Pingback: 4 Free Tools to Help You Socially Monitor Your Brand « Suzanne LaChapelle’s Weblog

  • http://socialmediadiyworkshop.com/ Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    Hi Stephanie,

    Many small businesses can’t afford to pay for social media monitoring services, and may not know that these great free services exist. Your article will helps lots of people start listening on social media in a new way. Great post!

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Thanks for the feedback, Charlene.  Are there any tools you employ that you believe to be good free assets for businesses to brand monitor?

  • http://socialmediadiyworkshop.com/ Charlene (@SocialMediaDIY)

    I use Social Mention and Google Alerts consistently. I’m also experimenting with TwentyFeet (www.twentyfeet.com) which has had a couple of hiccups recently but shows real promise. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    I use twentyfeet, too.  I agree it needs a bit of tweaking, but shows potential.

  • http://www.colemanmg.com Antonio Coleman

    I use Google Alert more then any other thing, I always want to know what people are saying about me. This helps me to monitor me brand.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    It’s one of the original online monitoring tools I began using.  While not fancy, it’s certainly helpful!

  • Nickie

    Thank you for this information.  I am relatively new to the social media industry..coming from a real estate background I have alot of “ground” to cover.  Boy will I be busy this afternoon with this new information.  Thanks again, Nickie

  • Amanda L. Nelson

    You include a lot of great information here! Thanks for the Radian6 mention.

  • http://www.overwhelmedbymarketing.com Rich Mistkowski

    I get great information here that I can share with my clients and for my business. Thanks for all the good tools.

  • continentalist

    The most important tool is missing: Twilert

    https://www.facebook.com/CSM.Worldwide?sk=walll

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Thompson/1348513934 Jonathan Thompson

    We’re only using Google Alerts. I’m going to test out Social Mention and Technorati today. Thanks for writing this helpful article.JT

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    I am glad you found it helpful.  If you have any questions along the way, please do feel free to look me up on Twitter.com/airport_girl. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Thank you and you’re welcome.  Are you employed by Radian6?

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Glad that you found it useful.  Are there tools that you use that I didn’t mention?

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    What do you find to be the biggest benefits of the tool you mention?

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    I am glad to found this sampling of tools to be useful, Jonathon.  Let me know how your scouting goes!

  • http://www.donmartelli.com Don Martelli

    Thanks for the plug on Technorati. I’m the executive editor there. 

  • http://writespeaksell.com jeannettepaladino

    I’ve just started using twepe which notifies you of Twitter mentions and enables you to tweet updates from Google+ — however, I haven’t been able to get that feature to work. Good list. Thanks.

  • http://www.directresponse.net David Polykoff

    These are some great tools Stephanie.  I enjoy Technorati’s capability of searching through blogs to find my keywords.  This can not only help out with finding who is writing about my company, but also who is writing about topics RELATED to my company.  With clever strategy this can be a very useful idea.

  • http://www.HappinessEvangelist.com/ Daniel Doherty

    I personally really like http://www.hootsuite.com for managing updating my social networks (facebook profile, facebook fan pages, twitter, linkedin, foursquare etc) over tweetdeck and seismic but is a personal thing. But is free for upto 5 social networks & can get reports and much more.

    I like http://www.postling.com for monitoring what people are saying online (on my social profiles etc) and getting one handy email which collects all mentions and I can reply directly from within the email, so brilliant.

    Also if you are new to this and want to understand some of the complex ideas/new technologies check out the wonderful short videos by http://commoncraft.com I used some of them for my social media crash course for new people (my mum test drove it) here   http://www.grafform.com/explain.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    You’re welcome and I’ll be sure to examine the tools you’re recommended as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    You’re welcome and thanks for introducing yourself, Don!

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Thanks for the feedback, Daniel.  I love Common Craft as a teaching tool!  I am signed up for the notice of their soon to-be-revealed new project, are you?

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    You make a good point, David.  Clever strategy combined with any of these tools can yield great results.  Thanks for your comments!

  • http://twitter.com/melaniekdavis Melanie Kearns Davis

    I use Google and Yahoo alerts, social mention and http://www.kurrently.com Kurrently looks at all Twitter and Facebook postings.

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  • http://twitter.com/help_nonprofits William Leachman

    Great tools! Thanks Stephanie. I personally like Google Alerts. A very informative post, and information I can share with colleagues and clients. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Thanks for the feedback, Melanie.  Do you find Yahoo alerts to be at all redundant with Google alerts?

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Thank you, Bill.  I appreciate your feedback!

  • http://twitter.com/melaniekdavis Melanie Kearns Davis

    I find that Yahoo is very slow compared to Google. Years ago I would find some stories that didn’t post on both sites.

  • Pingback: @Airport_Girl on listening in the SM-sphere « airportIMC

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Would it make sense to streamline to just using Google alerts if Yahoo alerts are an inefficient tool?

  • Cathy | Treatment Talk

    Hi Stephanie,

    I’m relatively new to blogging, so your post is very helpful to me. I will definitely try some of your suggestions, as I have not monitored my blog as of now, but realize it is important to do so. Good information, thanks.

  • http://www.zapsock.com Mark

    You can also utilize Google Reader and set it up for various searches very similar to Google Alerts. (It is searching the same database anyway.) I like this because it keeps it away from my email and I can organize it into folders that are easier to manage.
    -Mark

  • http://homeremediesmd.com Home Remedies MD

    I love social mention because it allows you to monitor which content on your website has the most social influence

  • http://blog.hootsuite.com/ DaveO from HootSuite

    Thanks for name-checking HootSuite. Keep in mind that the basic (free) version of our social media dashboard allows 5 social profiles plus basic analytics and a choice of 9 different social networks. I also suggest using the geo-location monitoring tools to only hear industry/brand mentions from a certain geo-area. This is especially handy for small biz to prospect for people interested in their services locally. Enjoy!

  • http://www.cooks-notebook.com.au/ Mel Kettle

    Great post – I love Google Alerts and Tweetdeck. Will check out the others too. Have also just been told of ReSearch.ly at http://research.ly/ which is primarily a twitter search tool but haven’t had a play yet. 

  • Denisse Marie

    I am going to checkout Social Mention. Sounds interesting. I currently use Google Alerts and Hootsuite. I am also trying out Social Sprout but I am not sure if they have any monitoring tools. Probably do.

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Shilpi Roy – Virtual Assistant

    Thanks Stephanie for this great post. Loved reading it and thanks for the share…
    Social media monitoring is very much needed one for small business.

    Recently posted: http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/blog/part-5-top-5-twitter-applications-that-can-be-used-for-ebay-and-amazon-businesses-shared-by-obva-social-media-virtual-assistants/

  • Carolyn

    That link doesn’t work. I had to use: http://twitter.com/#!/airport_girl

  • larusajoropera

    I recommend a payment made collaboration tools formonitoring information from all sources on the Internet. It’s called www.brandchats.com

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  • Amanda L. Nelson

    Yes, I’m a Radian6 Community Manager. If you have any thoughts, comments, questions, I’m here to help!

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    I am glad you will find these tools useful in your monitoring toolbox!  Let me know how it goes for you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Yes, Google Reader is a great tool to add to this mix.  Thanks for the reminder.

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Where do you find your website to have the greatest social influence?

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    You’re welcome.  I’ve tried your tool and others, but as a matter of personal preference have always returned to Tweetdeck.  Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post, a perfect example of brand monitoring!

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Mel, I am not familiar with ReSearch.ly, but will definitely be looking into it.  Thank you for bringing it to my attention and for commenting on my post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Glad to hear you found a tool to add to your social monitoring toolbox, Denisse!

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Thank you for the recommendation!

  • continentalist

    up to 10 keywords which you can search for, if a keyword is mentioned in the net you automatically get an email. it is as easy as that! best tool ever

  • continentalist

    up to 10 keywords which you can search for, if a keyword is mentioned in the net you automatically get an email. it is as easy as that! best tool ever

  • http://www.aaroneden.com/ Aaron Eden

    Great tools, Stephanie. There are few others the I found useful:

    · Tweetbeep.com works like Google alerts but for Twitter

    · InboxQ: allows you to do answer questions relevant to your brand on Twitter. So, it can work for brand monitoring as well as lead generation and prospecting purposes. For information about InboxQ, please click here: http://goo.gl/1zPNg

    · Crowdbooster.com, on the other hand, gives detailed Facebook brand monitoring information but I haven’t tried it yet.

    Speaking of Facebook, are there some branding tools you would recommend? Thank you so much for this valuable post. I learned a lot from you :) .

  • http://www.socialmediawave.com socialmediawave

    I suspect that individuals and small businesses would be the priority  audience for these freebie tools. As SME managers (and of course Airports) grapple with the application of social media in their mission critical uses such as Customer Service, that a harder look at “total SM solutions” should be made.

    These solutions (such as our work with AirGate Solutions and MarketTools ) are an example of using monitoring in the context of Customer Service, where Radian6 is just part of the package. We focus on the customer experience we can manage and extend via indicies etc. vs. having silos of social media monitoring going on all over the organization.

    Custom dashboards, data insights and managed response protocols are built into the solution, giving a top down, strategic planning approach to social media for all stakeholders, not just SM appointees or enthusiasts.

  • http://www.thenerdynurse.com/ The Nerdy Nurse

    Great tools as always! Thanks

  • imbenzene

    This is a very bad and irrelevant list. Poorly researched!

  • continentalist

    Finally, I would love to have you on https://www.facebook.com/CSM.Worldwide?sk=walll

  • http://marketing-strategy-management.com Kenneth Rudich

    It’s hard to write a good, thorough, and succinct post on a subject as expansive as this. It might be better to critically evaluate one tool, with the hope of either stimulating others to do the same or adding to your own list over time so as create an in-depth series.                 

  • http://www.TheCoffice.biz/ The Coffice™

    A bit late to the party here…

    I didn’t notice if anyone had mentioned my favorite iPhone/iPad monitoring app: Boxcar. (I think there’s a Mac desktop version too)

    This is an app that monitors like all the others…but what sets it apart is its push feature. So every time one of my monitoring terms is tweeted (so far I get the most use with twitter), I get a popup alert on my phone…I can choose to respond or ignore.

    Great article…I’m also a happy hootsuite user.

    Sam

  • http://www.i95dev.com/ecommerce-magento Henry Louis

    Stephanie, I would agree your ideas with Social Mention & Technorati but disagree with Alerts & Tweetdeck. With Alerts there is a delay & info of Tweetdeck is not much insightful. I have shared my experiences for my business, not sure if it would be different for different businesses!

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    I’m sorry you feel that way.  I explained in the piece that this is a sample of what’s available.  Do you have solutions and examples that you prefer to use?  

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Thank you!  

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Thanks for the feedback.

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    This is a snapshot of a wide variety of tools available to the public.  Please feel free to recommend tools that you think should be considered by readers of Social Media Examiner.

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Thank you for the recommendation and feedback, Sam.  Not everyone has an iPhone (I use a Droid), are you aware of a comparable product for smart phones other than iPhone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Thanks, Henry.

  • http://www.social-media-connections.com Nickie Stowers

    I have enjoyed reading and in some cases rereading the comments.  Whether a person agrees or  disagrees with the list of free tools..it is good for to hear what different tools people use and an overview of what is available.  Thanks again Stephanie for disseminating the information in such a user friendly format.

  • http://twitter.com/Votocracy Votocracy

    Great tips! You can also build your personal brand and start your own candidacy for president through our Facebook App. Even double rainbow guy did it! Read the latest feature in Mashable: http://on.mash.to/nrbLpC.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    I’ve added tweetbeep to my monitoring toolbox, thank you for the recommendation!

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    You’re welcome, Nickie.  And thank you for your comment!

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    I don’t plan to run for President, but thanks for the “heads up” on your Facebok app.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SRWDWB2AN55CC4D2THRCQC5XVE Janice Maddox

    I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, GetCent.com

  • http://twitter.com/sherry_cole Sherry Cole

    Interesting breakdown of the free tools.  I do think there is a bit of cross-over with these though I must confess I use all of these.  Thanks for an interesting and helpful site. 

  • http://twitter.com/Manjobo socialmedaisavvy

    Excellent post hey. Just used the social mention tool and not only was able to find out where our brand is being mentioned by also managed to pick new link building opportunites that our competitors are getting links from. 

  • CaseyWarren95628715

    I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, PennyHub.com

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  • http://www.squidoo.com/best-laptop-under-700 John Kavan

    Hi, I am not really in to this business but this article became an eye opener  for me. I never thought that there are information such as this one which helps tract down brands. This is really helpful and informative.

  • DonaldGarlick

    Any tools here that allow you to see word associations/context – i.e. if I have a brand “Vodafone” it might be mentioned in a positive light in some cases and negatively in other cases?

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    You’re quite welcome, thank you for reading and providing feedback.

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Excellent!  Glad you were able to put one of the tools to such a good use, so quickly!

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    Thanks!  Glad you found it insightful!

  • http://www.facebook.com/slgehman Stephanie Fisher Gehman

    I am not immediately familiar with any, but if you’re able to come across one please share!

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  • http://www.softxml.com/ SoftXML

    Managing your online reputation doesn’t need to be difficult. Be careful which information you share publicly with an eye towards making a good impression on anyone who discovers you online, and keep your eyes and ears open for anyone who says different  :)

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/RTSVY4AEAMGXMRAIJHGU6V73HQ Shampoo

    Spammer

  • AlisaMeredith

    I’ve been trying to set up Social Mention Alerts, but I get the message, “Alerts are current disabled. but will be back in about 1 week. Sorry for the inconvinience [SIC]“  Are they ever coming back?

  • http://www.cbil360.com/ Website Design Company

    I was also expecting if you could discuss about how to set our self as a brand, so that even small and medium scale business can learn about it. Your post is about tracking not about making!
       However its really very much useful to keep track from through domains.

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  • Gary Deezy

    I gave up on SocialMention. Love the idea, but it is calculating dates wrong, and showing us recent posts… from four years ago. Not helpful at all.

    We have notified their staff three times, they seem to tweek a few things, but then the problem comes back. Most of the issues seem to be with PhotoBucket.

    Of course, your mileage may vary.

  • Gary Deezy

    Nice, but I can do (mostly) the same search in the Twitter web client….







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