How to Use Twitter Plus Needlebase to Discover Fabulous Things

10 Comments 01.15.11

My PR buddy Julie Wohlberg asked me tonight if I knew any good journalists she should invite to a social media conference in Florida called SheCon. ReadWriteWeb’s Sarah Perez in Tampa was apparently inaccessible, so I took a few minutes to explore some possibilities…with web applications! I used the DIY data extraction and normalization service Needlebase, along with Twitter list search engine Tlists and of course Twitter itself to discover a list of journalists in the South of the US who have more than 2000 Twitter followers. (Mapped above) It wasn’t hard to do at all! Here they are in one Twitter list you can follow: Top South East Journalists

What I did was use Tlists to find 3 Twitter lists of 500 journalists (this one, this one and this one), curated by people I was familiar with. Then I used Needlebase to scrape the usernames, locations, number of followers and number of tweets (just for fun) of all the people on those three lists. Then I told Needlebase to exclude anyone with fewer than 2000 followers and show me the remaining ones on a map, grouped by the State they were in. Then I copied their usernames into a text file and sent it to Julie. It was super fun, similar in many ways to this post I put up here last week about the Twitter and LinkedIn habits of Corporate Social Strategists.

This method isn’t complete until you say: hey everyone reading this post, if I missed anyone – let me know and we’ll add you to the list! Machines can work pretty fast, in this case I was slowed down by making a video and talking about it but was able to do all this in about an hour. That’s awesome, but it’s not perfect until there’s a touch of human follow-up too.

How does one do such things at all though? How about I show you a screencast? Hooray! Below are links to 3 videos demonstrating how I did all that. Jing, the free service I used, is limited to 5 minute videos, so there are three and the last one ends a little abruptly. None the less, I hope that you will find them useful and will go out and scrape all kinds of wonderful things for yourself, from all kinds of web pages!

And if you’re able to, check out SheConf in May!

Video 1
Video 2
Video 3

If you watched those videos, I did that 3X with three different Twitter Lists. Yay! Fun times.


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  • http://Ourtownzip.com June swatzell

    This is amazing! Thanks
    Please check out my website and fb page.

  • http://spinchange.com spinchange

    Great work, Marshall. I love a little DIY data mining howto. H/t on turning me on to Needlebase also

  • http://hettemabergsten.com Dennis Hettema

    Great stuff thanks! Way more informative than Needlebase’s own howto videos :)

  • Erik T

    What are your thoughts on Scvgr?

  • http://dotabe.com DotA Be

    yeah great stuff, now i know how use it

  • http://www.fundacionfadei.org gabrielmiron

    Hi Marshall, thanks for a great tutorial. I’m trying to do the same task and when I’m using needlbase after I have entered the link of the list, in the panel control I don’t get the description option. Could you help me out ? I have attached a pic https://picasaweb.google.com/102363917203020240086/01042011#5590575093960140322

    Thanks !!!

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  • Stefan Tertan

    o.O you sure know your data mining techniques! In the recent light of attention the NSA is gathering I wonder : if one man has the methods for efficient data mining like you do, how much more efficient the NSA really is? it’s a scary thought once you add the numbers up :) …. nevertheless I just heard about you today and have already learned so much from you. Thank you for all the useful info you share!

  • http://getlittlebird.com/ Marshall Kirkpatrick

    Thanks Stefan ;) These are just clever hacks and strategic thinking. I’m now building such strategy into a product at GetLittleBird.com. But yeah, the NSA is nothing to trifle with I’m sure! Thanks for the kind words.

  • Stefan Tertan

    It’s already on my to do list :) … once I have the time to study it and decide it`s usefulness for me at the moment :P …. from skimming the surface so far it looks like a great tool