While it’s great to interact with others around the world in social
networks — to learn what other organizations are doing, and to reap
fresh ideas for your own nonprofit — many small nonprofits are
community-based with programs and services that are specific to a
certain location. What you often need most is to connect with potential
volunteers and supporters in your own community.
Here are a few tools to help you find Twitter users in or near your nonprofit’s geographic location:
Twitter Advanced Search
Not surprisingly, Twitter Search is probably the best place to start your search for local Twitter users. Scroll down the Advanced
page of Twitter’s own search engine to Places, for the “Near this
place” option. Enter your location or postal code, together with a
radius in miles, for a live stream of updates from people within that
You can also do this directly from the regular search box on Twitter, just by entering your search terms in this format: near:place within:##mi — place being your location and ## the number of miles.
Tweet Scan User Search
helps you find people by the locations they’ve listed in their Twitter
bio (as opposed to the location associated with the IP address of the
device they’re using to connect to the Internet). Through Tweet Scan,
you can also set up an email alert for mentions of your selected
keywords — the name of your town or your nonprofit, for example. It’s
not unlike Google Alerts,
which we’ve talked about before, but this tool is specific to Twitter,
identi.ca and other Laconi.ca-based microblogging sites.
Nearby Tweets not only lets
you search within a set radius of your location, but you can also
filter those search results by keyword at the same time — and the
drop-down options box makes it quick and easy to change your search
terms. This tool is quick and easy, one of my current favorites for
doing a local user search around a specific keyword or topic.
If you prefer a visual search, Twellowhood
offers a clickable map to help you find those people who have
identified a certain city as their locations in their Twitter bio. The
map is available only for the United States and Canada at present, but
the folks at Twellow say they’re working on adding other countries.
Although the name sounds promising, and the site lets you promote
local events as well as search for local people by location and
keyword, Localtweeps is a
directory rather than a search tool. Its usefulness depends in large
part on how many users register themselves in the directory: as of
today, for example, there were 601 Twitter users listed here for New
York City. I’m just keeping an eye on this one for now.
Google Site Search
We’ve talked before about to how to refine a web search using Google’s
advanced search operators, and two of those operators are particularly
handy for finding local users of social media. Site search (site:) and
wildcard (*), used together, can nicely refine your search for Twitter
users according to what they’ve posted on their Twitter profile pages —
and of course you can adapt this method to search any other social
network that has public profile pages for its users. For example, to search Twitter
for associations in the Toronto area, you might enter
something like this into Google: site:twitter.com “bio* * association” “location Toronto” or use the form on the Advanced Search page to get the same results.
How does your nonprofit find local people on Twitter?
Are there any favorite “local search” tools you would add to this list?