I’m on the web 24/7. In a stylistic futuristic science fiction novel they’d say I had a third eye connected to the information dimension.
Recently, I’ve been on the hunt for a new staff writer, and one of the questions I asked of my candidates was whether they used Google Alerts. This is a must for any news-junkie or reporter, and it led me to put together this list of 5 fastest ways to use social media to get the latest news.
1) HootSuite, Tweetdeck or Other Twitter Aggregators
I don’t think there’s a better way to glance at real-time news than by having 3 or 4 streams of Twitter in front of you at once. I have 5 key streams, and each of them targets a keyword like “LinkedIn”, “Google Plus” or “Foursquare”, and when using HootSuite, I take one glance and I can see if there’s anything breaking on any of those topics. Fast and useful.
2) Google Reader / Google Alerts
Google Alerts allows you to let Google notify you by email every time a specific keyword is mentioned in the news. There’s a bit of a magic formula there, as Google is prone to do, so they don’t send you every single piece of news related to your keyword.
What some people don’t know is that you can set those alerts to send the related news to your Google Reader feed. So when I load up my Google Reader, I have about twenty specific Google Alerts looking at various keywords related to emerging social networks, and this keeps my eye on the pulse. It’s definitely slower than the HootSuite option, but it has broad coverage and I’ve caught many things here that I missed on HS.
Techmeme is one of the best aggregators of technology news around the web. It’s got a very broad range of topics, so I still recommend bookmarking Social Times for all your emerging social networks news (wink wink) but it’s useful to keep an eye on what the overall blogosphere is saying about any given topic.
4) Facebook and Google Plus
You know you have those share-a-holic friends who ensure that they share everything related to their topic of interest, so create a list in Facebook or a Circle in Google Plus and keep an eye on it. I find that these contacts will often find obscure blog posts or deep analyses that your other tools may have missed.
I find that Quora is amazing for dissection and analysis of breaking news. With the new credits service, you can also get on there and request that an expert field your question about a certain topic or news story. The turnaround is pretty fast on the site, and the intellectual community means that you’ll meet a lot of people who do their research.
Do a Reddit search for any topic you’d like. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
You’ll probably see a few jokes, a few viral images with zero votes, and possibly a breaking story that hasn’t been covered. The democratic Reddit has some of the most eager, stat-obsessed webizens around, and it behooves you to keep an eye on what they’re watching. You just may find a new interest there and get hooked.
Bonus: Feature Magazines
This may sound odd, but a lot of printed magazine content is never printed on the web, and won’t show up in search results. And if you read magazines like Fast Company or Ink, you’ll find yourself reading the work of quality journalists who did their research. A lot of feature interviews and key statistics are only available in print magazines, and if you’re serious about your topic, subscribe and help support an industry that needs the support right now. This may be the fastest way to get some surprising insights from professionals.