Reddit for journalists: The 10% rule and starting your search on page 6

Image by Torley on Flickr. Creative commons licence.

Reddit last week published its ‘pressiquette’ guidance for journalists, reminding eager reporters to “respect the community”.

One of the sessions at last month’s news:rewired focused on how journalists can engage with Redditors without making cultural gaffs.

Any journalist who has had access to news site analytics will know that if the Reddit community pick up on a story Reddit can be a significant traffic driver. But unlike other social media platforms where journalists can push their own links, you can’t game Reddit and get traffic simply by pushing your story under the noses of Redditors.

Here are tips from the three panelists:

James Cook, contributing editor, The Daily Dot

James’s tips for journalists wanting to get started on Reddit:

  • Identify yourself 
  • "Reddit is a very intelligent community, so be honest about who you are"
  • Do a standard site search for Reddit to see which content from your site has been posted (

  • "Look at who has been sharing your stories"
  • "Be honest about who you are on Reddit"

James said that he posts a comment on stories he has written that have been posted on Reddit, explaining he is the author and inviting feedback.

James has an unofficial 10% rule. “Your stories shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your total submitted links,” he advised.

He also recommended that you find subreddits that are really relevant to your audience and become familiar with them.

Victoria Taylor, director of communications, Reddit

The difference between Reddit and other platforms: Reddit is not about acquiring large numbers of followers and broadcasting to them, Victoria explained. “It’s a one-to-one platform with the opportunity of it being one-to-many.”

Advice from Victoria:

Respect the community when sourcing content. "This is a community that does not belong to you," said Victoria. Reddit communities belong to their members.

What do you do if you want to use content from Reddit? Give the uploader a generous deadline, Victoria urged. Your deadlines are not their deadlines, she said.

Victoria also pointed out Reddit live update threads – a kind of collaborative live blog. Here’s one on Ferguson as an example.

Fergus Bell, social media and UGC editor, Associated Press

“Reddit can be really useful for storytelling or flagging up what you are missing as Redditors are not missing much,” Fergus said.

“Sometimes its okay to just act as an observer,” he said, suggesting journalists can simply watching other people’s posts rather than feel the need to contribute.

Fergus also talked about finding newsworthy content on Reddit. “I like to start my Reddit searches on page six of Reddit,” he said, explaining how that allows him to see points of interest before they have bubbled up to the front page of the internet.

He also said journalists need to find a way to responsibly ask to use posts from social media. We need to think about a better approach than bombarding Redditors to ask them for permission to use their content, he added.

5 reasons you’ll love social media analytics tool BuzzSumo

A few weeks ago Matt Navarra from The Next Web messaged me to say I should have a look at a social media tool called BuzzSumo. I made a mental note but failed to act. Hearing Richard Moynihan, social media editor of The Telegraph, speak enthusiastically about BuzzSumo at news:rewired made me finally try it. I now use it several times a day. 

BuzzSumo is free and although it may not have been specifically designed for news sites, social media editors will love it. Here’s why:

1. You can search for the most social content on your news site

BuzzSumo lets you see which articles from your news organisation are getting most social attention. For example, I can enter and see the most shared articles from the last 24 hours / week / month / 6 months.

2. You can find out who shared your article

Once I know the most shared article of this week was about Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and his plans to build a fleet of aircraft, I can then look to see who shared that story. (I can only see Twitter sharers due to tighter privacy settings for other social platforms).

I can sort by number of followers, average retweets or other criteria.

3. You can search for a topic and see the most-shared content

BuzzSumo also lets you search for a topic (like ‘aviation’) and see which outlets are getting most social traction around that topic.

4. You can search for influencers

The tool also lets you search for influencers. So if you wanted to find and alert influencers to a particular story, you could use this feature. 

5. You can export the data

Social media data is only useful if you can learn from it and improve sharing. What’s great about BuzzSumo is that you can download all of the data into a spreadsheet.

There’s also an API so you could integrate social data into your own analytics tools.

Promising pro features

There’s no shortage of social media monitoring platforms but it’s rare you come across one that is so useful you immediately email the creators to tell them so.

Having done that, I’m now trying out some pro features. One to note is an alerts system that sends an email when a story from your news outlet gains a certain number of shares on social.

There’s an excellent guide to BuzzSumo on the Buzzsumo site.

9 tips and tricks from the journalist’s social media toolbox

Last month I gave a 10-minute presentation at news:rewired. I shared 9
tips on social media tools.

Unlike at some other news organisations, social media editors at The Wall Street Journal have newsgathering as part of their remit. In addition to pushing out news, leading engagement projects and introducing new audiences to the brand, we also keep an eye on social and either report ourselves on one of the blogs or feed in to reporters.

In the presentation I discussed familiar tools, talking about specific features or techniques. Most of them relate to monitoring or newsgathering, a few relate to pushing out news on social.

I’ve blogged about some of these tips before.

Tool 1 Tweetdeck: (2-column) filters

The first tip is to get to grips with the engagement filters in Tweetdeck (here’s a more detailed guide on Tweetdeck). 

When monitoring a keyword, group of keywords or hashtag, I often have
two columns set up with the same term.

The left-hand column simply has the search terms with the engagement filter set to exclude retweets. The column on the right only shows tweets that have had at least 40 / 50 retweets, therefore alerting me to any tweets that are gaining traction thanks to other Twitter users.


Another example of when this technique comes in useful is when creating a social post of popular tweets.

For example, take the hashtag #thingstimhowardcouldsave that was trending the morning after the US goalkeeper saved 16 goals during the World Cup match against Belgium.

When looking for the best memes, I had one column devoted to all tweets (with retweets excluded) and the right-hand column the engagement filter was set to show popular tweets. I started by setting the engagement filter to 60, then dropped it to 50, then to 40 retweets. I also selected the option to only show tweets with images.


Tool 2 Tweetdeck: Collections

This brings me onto the second tip: collections (previously known as custom timelines).

When I wanted to save the best Tim Howard tweets, I simply dragged and dropped the chosen memes into a ‘collection’. That’s the the third column above. This not only allowed me to gather the tweets into one place, but it meant I could collaborate with colleagues. One of our video journalists was creating a reaction piece and by following the growing collection I was building he had easy access to the best memes.


I’ve created collections of to tell a visual story of MH17, to collate the tweets from our reporters covering D-Day, on the Syria elections, for example. And although you can embed the collection in a blog post or news story (see above screengrab), it’s often enough to simply share the url of the collection with your Twitter followers.

Tool 3 Twitter: Searching lists

Much has been written on the value of lists to journalists (here’s a particularly good post on using lists in newsgathering). It may be super useful to be able to follow a list created by another journalist or news organisation when a story breaks, but until relatively recently there was no easy way to search lists in Twitter.

You can now search for any term using the search bar and see related lists. Here’s an example of how someone interested in following journalists reporting on MH17 could search for the term and then see lists and double down.


Tool 4 Facebook: Geolocation

Geolocating Facebook posts can be effective when wanting to push news to or talk to people in a geographic region. For example, we decided to reach out to people in Egypt at the time of the election. We used the geolocation feature so that only people in Egypt would see a question.



Rather than showing an irrelevant post to our whole audience we were able to reach only those people we wanted to reach. The post had more than 10,000 comments.

Tool 5 Facebook Follow: Settings

Here’s a tip for journalists who have embraced the Facebook Follow button, which allows people to follow your public posts.

It’s one picked up from Facebook’s Karla Geci when I went for a meeting with her one day, along with one our Middle East reporters.

The journalist flagged that he received lots of friend requests from people he didn’t know and while he wanted to allow them to follow his work, he didn’t want them to have access to personal posts.

Karla suggested changing the settings so people who are not friends of friends don’t have an option to send a Facebook request, and they are therefore presented with the option to follow.


And how does a journalist based in the Middle East prevent their followers from seeing a photo posted by a friend on his or her wall? Again, there’s a feature in the settings so this will not appear to followers.


Tool 6 Storyful Multisearch

This is a tool I use a couple of times a week. It’s a simple browser add on and it allows you to search across social platforms. 


Here’s an example of when I was looking at the social reaction to the #Soma mining disaster in Turkey and started to see a pattern of people showing solidarity by making human chains in the shape of the word ‘Soma’.

Tool 7 Gramfeed

Of course Instagram can provide background or colour on the subject of a story, whether that is Kharkiv mayor Gerrady Kernes or Robin Williams.

A number of journalists at the Journal use Instagram to share photos. Here’s a link to Matt Bradley’s Instagram who is posting from Iraq. And here are Instagrams from Tamer El-Ghobashy in Gaza and from Josh Mitnick in Israel.

Gramfeed is one of a number or third-party tools worth knowing about. The search by location feature is useful. Here’s an example of a search by location for one of a football stadium during the World Cup.




Tool 8 (with logo) is an iPhone app for watermarking photos for sharing on social. It was created by Vice’s Tim Pool who felt he needed such a tool. 

image not only adds your name, date and location information but by uploading a logo to Imgur, you can add a brand to your photos.


Another great app for watermarking images is Marksta created by photo journalist John D McHugh. I was reminded of it as John D was sitting on the front row listening to my presentation. 

Tool 9 is one option for adding a credit to photos before sharing on social. It’s free for a basic account.

Watermarking photos before sharing on Twitter prevents having to add a photo credit to a tweet (example here). Adding a text credit not only takes up precious characters, but may prevent some sharing as clear and simple is usually best when it comes to tweeting (see @BBCBreaking v @SkySportsNewsHQ, which is lesson 3 of these 5 Twitter tips).


Here are my slides from news:rewired.

A guide to advanced newsgathering using Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck is a powerful newsgathering tool. But are you using all the tips and tricks to mean you get to the story before it breaks? Do you know how to hone in to find key contacts?

Joanna Geary (@JoannaUK), head of news at Twitter UK, came in to the London newsroom of The Wall Street Journal on 17 June to share ideas and best practice.

She also gave this ‘advanced newsgathering using Tweetdeck’ workshop during the International Journalism Festival in Perugia.

Here are my notes.

(If you are new to Tweetdeck, here’s a guide to get you started.)

From feeling overwhelmed to feeling informed

Tweetdeck may look like a bind and you may feel intimidated by the thought of having to stare at columns, but filters and smart working can liberate you by excluding some of the noise.

“You then don’t need to stare at those columns all day,” said Joanna. “Tweetdeck is in the background doing your searches for you.”

Tip 1: Embrace the filter button

The filter button at the top of a column is particularly useful.

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 14.48.15.png

You may find a particular keyword or hashtag you are tracking is particularly noisy. The filter button helps you filter the things that are useful to you.

  • Exclude keywords

You can exclude words.

Example: If you were tracking the Mandela memorial you may have been tracking the keyword ‘Mandela’ in a column but excluding the word ‘selfie’ (to omit chatter about the famous Obama selfie).

Example: Follow a World Cup list but exclude mentions of ‘England’. (Yes, Joanna was speaking when England’s dreams were still alive.)

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 14.47.37.png

  • Exclude RTs

If you were monitoring the keyword ‘Mandela’, you may have excluded RTs.

You can specify types of user, perhaps you want to track everyone who has a blue verified Twitter tick. This is an option on a dropdown.

  • Engagement filter

This is particularly usedul. You can only show tweets that get a certain number of favourites or RTs. This helps you spot trending tweets early.


Tip 2: Turn the air blue

Holy shit! WTF was that? Let’s find the fucking breaking news on Twitter!

Joanna also shared keyword advice, useful for potentially finding news before it breaks.

‘Fuck’ is quite a common word used in breaking news. As is ‘shit’ as is ‘WTF was that’.

Get your search tight enough to make it useful, she advised.

Use Boolean searches (OR and AND)

A column search in Tweetdeck may look like this:

shit OR fuck OR fucking

Then you add:

AND fire OR earthquake OR bomb

Then you can remove false positives.

You can remove RTs, mentions of ‘fuck the police’ and “any gangster spelling of that,” as Joanna said.

This will give you a much slower feed of potentially useful tweets. But of course it’s not perfect. You can’t just get a stream of breaking news. What you can do is get your search refined so you might get breaking news.

Show tweets gaining traction

You could also run a search for tweets that only have at least 15 RTs, for example. You might then catch stuff relatively early but before another news outlet has it, for example. Tweak the meter / number of RTs depending what group of people you are looking at.

Tip 3: Search tools

Beyond the search boxes in Tweetdeck and on the Twitter website, there’s the Twitter search URL.

This has additional functionality than in the search bar. You can use operators and advanced search. (See links from just below the search bar on

For example, you can use from:WSJ #WorldCup to find tweets sent by @WSJ mentioning the #WorldCup.


(Want a few more Google search operators, many of which work for Twitter? See this post on Google search tips for journalists. And here are other Twitter search tips.)

Searching after a story breaks

If you had been reporting on the helicopter crash which hit the Clutha pub in Glasgow back in November, you may have searched the word ‘helicopter’ and ‘clutha’ and come up with this tweet (sent by MA journalism student Christina O’Neil)

You could then go to Google Maps and look for nearby street names. Your search may then look like this:

Clyde OR Enoch OR Stockwell

You then might want to try limiting this keyword by location, only finding tweets mentioning one of these keywords (Clyde OR Enoch OR Stockwell) sent within 1km of the area the crash happened.

Only 4% of Twitter users turn their location on, Joanna said. So using geolocation will only pick up this minority of people. But it’s worth a go. 

To find the geo coordinates of a location, go to Google Maps, right click on the area, click ‘what’s here’, and you’ll get the latitude and longitude. (You’ll need to take the space out between the two numbers.)

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 15.04.51.png

Alternatively, Joanna recommends iTouchMap.

Your search for geolocated tweets sent mentioning Clutha and within 5 miles of the crash site would look like this:

geocode:55.854481,-4.250136,5mi clutha

If you want to zone in on a user and get an alert whenever that person tweets, click ‘user’ in Twitterdeck.

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 15.18.01.png

Not near a computer? If you are on your mobile, go to the user and ‘switch on notifications’.

The power of lists

Find lists, follow lists, create them yourself. You can now search for lists within Tweetdeck and Twitter. 

Tip 4: Try Widgets


Twitter has a feature called ‘collections’ (formerly known as ‘custom timeline’). (WSJ used this to collect @samdagher’s tweets around the Syria election and to collect tweets from reporters covering the D-Day anniversary).

Joanna gave a useful tip: that this feature could be used by reporters flagging up tweets to an editor or reporter for use in a live blog.

(I use this feature to organise tweets I may want to put in a blog post. It’s also a great feature for collaboration. When I created this post with the best #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave memes, I added them to a collection. This allowed my colleague Parminder Bahra to us the same tweets I’d identified in a video.)

Search widget

The search widget allows you embed a Twitter widget for a search term. 

List widget

You can embed a list (tweets by WSJ reporters at the World Cup, for example),  

“It’s essentially an auto-publishing tool,” Joanna said.

Tip 5: Verification tips

The task of journalists checking information is centuries old. The platforms maybe new but verification on Twitter is essentially a fact-checking and common sense process.


  • Look at the profile page. “Be suspicious of eggs,” said Joanna
  • Look at join date (displayed on new-style profiles)
  • Look at tweets and replies
  • Who is following them?
  • Who do they follow?
  • Verification tick – which you can hover over to check
  • Look to see if people geolocate
  • Look at the platform people used (Tweetdeck, Twitter, for example. If someone Tweeted from Tweetdeck it’s unlikely they did this from a mobile phone when out and about)
  • Can use WolframAlpha weather in x place at x time
  • Reverse image search Google Image Search / TinEye

We’ve had a number of guest speakers at WSJ recently. Here are my notes on two of the other sessions:

Instagram for journalists

Facebook for journalists

Facebook for journalists

Iain Mackenzie from Facebook came in to The Wall Street Journal’s London offices a few weeks ago (10 April) and gave a talk on Facebook for journalists.

We also had an Instagram for journalists session.

Iain, who used to be tech editor for the BBC News website, shared his tips. Here are my notes from the session.

Journalists use Facebook for three things:

  • Discovery
  • Story creation
  • Distribution


Iain gave several examples of how Facebook can be used for newsgathering.

Facebook is sometimes the only place where officials share news, he said.

For example, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is very active Facebook user and shares announcements.

Ukrainian politician Arsen Avakov became acting minister of interior on 22 Feb. On 24 Feb he posted that an arrest warrant had been issued for former president Victor Yanokovych.

Then Medvedev took to Facebook in response.

Some people have ‘pages’ set up, others are personal profiles which you can ‘follow’.

Tip: Manage the flow of information via interest lists

Interest lists are a bit like Twitter lists in that you can create lists of key sources. You don’t have to be following that person / organisation to add them to a list.

You can add a page or person to an interest list by clicking ‘add to interest lists’ > +new list > next > give it a name.

You can make interest lists public and share the URL. Alternatively, you can set to ‘friends only’ or ‘only me’.

On the left-hand side of the Facebook newsfeed, you then see your list.

It’s not algorithmically sorted like your Facebook newsfeed; instead you see it in backwards chronological order.

Story creation

There are 1.2 billion people on Facebook, so it is a great way to find sources, Iain said.

Here are three tips:

1. Just ask people. The BBC World Service does this very well, Iain said. They asked readers for ‘women that have inspired you’ and used responses on air.

2. Find a page that relates to the story. For example, one of the journalists covering the story of the helicopter which crashed onto a pub in Glasgow used Facebook to find the page of the band that was playing in the pub at the time of the accident.

3. Finding people. Iain talked through an example of finding ‘Young Welsh Conservatives’ using Facebook’s Open Graph search. Graph Search is the search feature that treats location, places, dates etc as searchable.

Example search

'People from Wales who like the Conservative Party and were born after 1980'

(Simply type that into the bar at the top of your Facebook newsfeed.)

The results show public information that the user has chosen to make public / share.

This search could then be narrowed by looking for male young Conservatives from Cardiff. 

In some cases you can message people directly. It goes to the ‘other inbox’. You can pay a nominal fee, of £0.41, (to avoid spam). 

Example search:

Pictures taken in Maiden, by people from Kiev.

Facebook also allows you to make contact with newsmakers / real witnesses, Iain said.

Example search:

Iain showed a great example, of looking for photos photos of Tahrir Square taken by people who live in Cairo.

Once these photos are displayed you can then further refine the search.

When Iain tried this search, one particular face stood out from the pictures. He could tell this was of someone called Mohamed Mohsen.

His profile said he was singer and had 32,000 followers (he’s since switched to a Facebook page).

The profile provided a link to his Twitter profile and his YouTube channel, which had a video of him singing on a TV talent show. Mohamed allows anyone to message him so could be contacted.

Iain suggested this would be a good contact for someone attempting to cover the story of Tahrir from afar.

And if you discover a particularly interesting Facebook update that helps you tell a story, it can be embedded within a news site.

Tip: You can embed a Facebook post from that person within a blog on your site.


We all know that Facebook drives traffic to news site. Journalists can help push their own stories by either setting up a page or allowing people to follow their public posts.

There is an option to turn on ‘follow’ on any Facebook profile. This means others can follow without requiring a two-way reciprocal arrangement of friendship.

There’s also an embeddable Facebook Follow button that can be added to blogs / websites.

Using Facebook Follow

For followers to see your posts you have to make the post public. That means you can keep photos / posts relating to family and friends as private to your followers.

If you want to check how you appear to the public, click ‘view as’ in Facebook. You can even use a particular name and see how much of your profile any individual sees. You can do this in ‘activity log’.

Here are two tips for using Facebook Follow as a journalist.

Facebook Follow started life as Facebook Subscribe. I wrote a how-to guide on Facebook Subscribe back in 2012 while at (interviewing two people who later became WSJ colleagues). Much of the advice – from Liz Heron (then at NYT), Neal Mann (then at Sky News) and Benjamin Cohen – is still relevant.

Iain’s tips on making yourself worth following:

  • Share behind the scenes photos, engage with people. 
  • 'Sell' your story, don't just post the link.
  • Stephen Sackur from BBC HardTalk does this well, Iain said. He hosted a live Facebook Q&A and got 129 questions.

We’ve also arranged Facebook Q&As. WSJ editor-in-chief Gerard Baker hosted a Facebook Q&A in May.

Instagram for journalists

The Wall Street Journal has in-house training sessions called DJ Spotlight (the DJ standing for Dow Jones).

We recently had Will Guyatt from Instagram and Iain Mackenzie from Facebook come in to the London newsroom to lead lunchtime workshops.

I originally wrote these notes for Journal folk. I’m now posting here having checked with Will and Iain that they agree with me sharing more widely. 

Here are the notes from Will’s talk. I’ll post notes on Facebook for journalists in due course.

Key Instagram stats:

  • 200 million active users
  • 65% of the audience is outside the US
  • 60 million photos are uploaded each day
  • 1.6 likes every day

Instagram is increasingly used by public figures, Will explained.

Clarence House (representing the royal family) posted lots of official shots from Will and Kate’s royal tour of Australia and New Zealand, for example.

Instagram is increasingly being used by journalists

  • Australian photojournalist @danielberehulak shared scenes from the 10 days of mourning following the death of Nelson Mandela.
  • In the Ukraine, one journalist stored images on Instagram. He uploaded the pictures and then deleted when Russian soldiers saw them and ordered him to delete them.

Examples of other news events that provided strong Instagram images:

  • UK floods
  • Helicopter crash in Glasgow
  • Egypt coup

Instagram is used by users who share interesting moments

  • @drewkelly, a teacher in Pyongyang, shares photos from daily life North Korea.
  • @greggboydston, an extreme firefighter in Oregon, shares images. He joined Instagram the week 13 of his colleagues died fighting forest fires, Will explained.

Instagram is being used by news organisations

BBC News tapped into Instagram API and brought in photos shared by people from the Thatcher funeral route in real-time. Here’s the Instagram map.

BBC News launched Instafax, 15-second stories told through simple text and pictures. If you have not yet seen Instafax, see an example.

The Guardian has experimented with account takeovers: Journalists on assignment, perhaps photojournalists, capture candid images. Projects include #GuardianCam and #GuardianCities.

Tools and best practices

Sourcing content via hashtags

Search for a hashtag within the Instagram app.

Sourcing content via location is a good third-party tool to use. Most pics are geolocated so can be found by location.

Here’s an example relevant to today’s news:

Will explained that the previous evening he did a test to see how many images were shared from the Bayern Munich soccer stadium. He located 5,000 Instagram images shared from that one game.

You could search for places with Instagram photos in Kiev, for example.

Will also took the lead WSJ Ukraine story from the day he spoke (April 10). The article mentions the name of two squares. He carried out a location search and found pictures and a video from those specific locations.

UGC (user-generated content)

Instagram is a wealth of resources for news organisations, Will said.

Instagram images can be embedded in news stories / blog posts without the need to get permission from the owner (you do this in the same way that you would embed YouTube videos). (Note, although this is acceptable practice, bear in mind that Instagrammers may have thought they were sharing photos with their network and may not welcome finding that their photos have been embedded on news sites.)

If you want to use the image not as an embed but as an uploaded picture, you must seek permission from the uploader as the copyright is owned by the user.

If you accept to use an image, the acceptable practice from Instagram is to reference the user and say it is from Instagram.

There are two ways to do this:

  1. Use the comments section on Instagram and ask for permission.
  2. Direct message the user. You can do this even if they don’t follow you. The quirk is that you have to send a picture, which can be anything and could be a selfie.

Instagram’s Hannah Waldram led a workshop at the last news:rewired conference. My notes on that are here.

Social stories: Reporting (predictable) presidential elections

Here are a few examples of how we’ve tackled social news of the Egypt and Syria elections at The Wall Street Journal.

1. Geolocating questions on Facebook – and getting more than 10,000 comments.

We knew we had a large Facebook following of people from Egypt to the main Wall Street Journal Facebook page. A quick look at the analytics showed Egypt as fifth on the list of countries where our followers live and Cairo as the second in the list of cities (after New York).

We therefore geotargeted a question for Egyptian followers.


imageHere’s the conversation on Facebook.

Here’s a follow-up blog post.

2. Highlighting the spoiled ballots

Tamer El-Ghobashy, one of the Journal’s Cairo-based reporters, noticed people were sharing photos of spoiled ballot papers, with some choosing to vote for Ayra Stark, Christiano Ronaldo, Florentino Perez or Sergio Ramos rather than for Sisi.

imageHis round up of ballot papers is well worth a look.

3. A Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Tamer

That’s taking place at noon ET / 5pm UK time / 7pm Cairo time tomorrow (Wednesday). 

Tamer El-Ghobashy will answer questions on Egypt.

4. A Twitter custom timeline on Syria

Voting has been taking place today in Syria’s ‘election’. Some of the one million Syrians living in neighbouring Lebanon voted at the embassy in Beirut last week.

The Journal’s Syria correspondent Sam Dagher has been doing a fantastic job of tweeting the election build up and day itself.

Using the custom timeline feature in Tweetdeck I was able to create a list Sam’s tweets and share the curated list.

imageTake a look at the list (it’s worth scrolling back so you can see the who week of coverage). Here’s a post where we embedded the timeline.

Perhaps we should end with this bright tweet from Sam. 

Presentations: Talking social at The Wall Street Journal

Here’s a list of presentations I’ve done since joining The Wall Street Journal six months ago. I thought it would be handy to gather my notes and slides in one place.

Coming up:


How to export a Twitter list to an Excel spreadsheet

Having created a Google spreadsheet from that dynamically adds follower counts, I wondered if there is a way to create a spreadsheet based on a Twitter list.

The Twitter API no longer allows you to do this but in my search I came across a useful tool for exporting Twitter lists.

TwExList allows you to export a Twitter list into an Excel spreadsheet, and what is particularly useful is that it gives you a summary of data.

imageFor example, you can:

  • Analyse follower counts*
  • See how active list members are
  • See when members joined Twitter
  • See the percentage of people who are verified
  • Analyse by location
  • Analyse by language

*Of course quality is far more important than quality but sorting by follower count can help a social media manager / editor see at a glance if any reporters with a large following are not verified.

I was able to create a spreadsheet from the WSJ staff Twitter listWSJ accounts Twitter listWSJ reporters based in EMEA and WSJ reporters based in London.

imageIt’s free to create a spreadsheet from a list with up to 50 members, it costs €0.99 for up to 100 members, €1.99 for a list of up to 500 members, €2.99 for up to 1,000, plus there are options for far larger lists. You can pay by PayPal or credit card.

Don’t be put off by the look and feel of the TwExList site (it looks a bit 1995); it’s an effective way of getting data from a list and well worth a few euro.

You don’t need to have access to the Twitter account that created the list as you can export data from any public Twitter list.

One tip: if you want to pull data on list members, you must copy and paste the url which points to the member list (the one with ‘members’ at the end of the url).

imageTwExList also allows you to export other data from Twitter.

Related: Here’s how to create a Google spreadsheet with dynamically updating Twitter follower counts 

Top tip for searching social media: Storyful Multisearch Chrome extension

I wrote about the Storyful Multisearch Chrome extension when it launched (here’s the post I wrote when I was at but want to flag it up to journalists who aren’t aware of it.

The browser extension was created for Storyful’s journalists to use to quickly search social media. The Storyful folk then generously open sourced Multisearch for all.

Link: Storyful Multisearch

Simply add a search term, check the boxes of the media you want to search and in the click of the button you get your results in different browser tabs.

This week I used Multisearch a number of times:

  • I used it to search for images of the mine disaster in Turkey

As I searched #Soma I spotted a story. I saw that people in Turkey and beyond were showing solidarity with the miners by creating human chains spelling Soma and sharing the photos on social media.

The search led me to create this Storify of the images, which was embedded on a WSJ blog and on the blog of our Turkish-language site.

  • I also used Multisearch to find images of a bomb scare outside the Bank of England

  • And I used it to search for images of an oil spill in Los Angeles

Disclaimer: The Storyful folk are now cousins of WSJ as News Corp acquired the social news agency in December.