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September 23, 2013 / carlispina

TwXplorer – A New Tool for Twitter Analysis

TwXplorer LogoLast week the Knight Lab, a journalism organization at Northwestern University, released a new tool called TwXplorer that allows users to search for, analyze, and save content from Twitter. It aims to offer a new way of tracking activity on Twitter and in particular to help you to find trends within specific communities on Twitter.

To use TwXplorer, you must first log in using your Twitter account. Once you are logged in, you will see the main TwXplorer page, which offers a single search box which can be used to search for terms, hashtags or usernames. The application currently supports searches in English and twelve other languages. Rather than merely providing tweets as results, TwXplorer analyzes the most popular terms, hashtags, and links that appear in the resulting tweets and displays this information on the same page as a list of the most recent tweets to use the search term. Common terms and hashtags are visualized as simple bar graphs and though the most commonly posted links aren’t visualized in this way, the list does include information about how many times each link was posted. All results pages can be saved as “snapshots” for future review. Once saved, searches appear on a separate page. If you search for the same term at multiple different times, each snapshot is collected in a drop down menu that groups multiple instances of the same search with time stamps showing when each search was run. This makes TwXplorer a valuable resource for researchers since it makes it possible to refer back to results from a specific time at a later date.

TwXplorer Screenshot

Intended primarily for journalists, this tool will be useful for anyone who is interested in using Twitter for research, or even doing detailed analysis of Twitter trends to formulate a social media strategy. While other services, such as Topsy, also make it possible to search through Twitter results, TwXplorer quantifies results in a way that makes them more useful for researchers. And, as mentioned, the ability to save searches as “snapshots” sets this application apart for those who want to back up their research. While it would be great to be able to easily export this data, particularly for researchers who are concerned about providing permanent access to information that they cite, TwXplorer is nevertheless a nice WYSIWYG option for Twitter analysis.

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