While some social networks offer you the opportunity to search, several websites have been developed with the sole objective of being a tracking and listening platform for social media. The ability to listen to social media conversations by business and brands can also provide tremendous leverage for online reputation management and analytical endeavours.
While Facebook has its own powerful search facility (here), there are numerous platforms that allow you to search for keywords across different social media platforms.
Bing is using its partnership with Facebook to compete with Google by introducing Bing as being as Social Search compliant. Microsoft (owns Bing) is providing a comprehensive integration with Facebook, thus enhancing the ability to include your Facebook status updates in your search queries. Google have since countered the Bing-Facebook partnership by introducing its own Google Social Search (which includes Twitter and Facebook search queries).
Bing is fast becoming a query platform for reaching into Google.
Greplin provides a search platform that helps you search through your sociosphere. This search platform helps you localize you search to one social network or several ones (LinkedIn, Google Calendar, Facebook, Dropbox, Twitter, etc). If you choose to search for your brand name or an issue, the search results will pull up everything on the network surrounding the terms you wish to find.
Greplin has been able to raise $4 million from Sequoia capital and they are positioned for big things in the listening and monitoring sphere.
Arguably the most popular, Openbook is a Facebook parody and was one of the first to integrate once Facebook opened up its search and documented APIs (Application Programmer Interface). Openbook became popular when they made available statistics public illustrating that Facebook users don’t actually know what they’ve made public and what they haven’t.
This site was formerly called Open Facebook Search, but legal injunctions made them change the name. However I love the Open Facebook Status Search design on their website 9 that’s cheeky!).
This service allows you to search all status updates on Facebook without allowing you to log into your account. This means independent search can be made on your account without identifying who is snooping on you. For those who like talking about how pushy their boss is, watch it!
Social Mention ranks high when it comes to being a professional social search platform. The service provides a real-time analysis and display of what’s being discussed around the web. While this intuitive results takes quite some time to load, it can become a very viable alternative to Google and Bing if they deal with the challenge of timing.
Listening on social media platforms will yield tremendous benefits especially in terms of research, reputation management, customer service and trend spotting.