Lee Odden

6 Social Search Engines to Start 2009

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media

There are many reasons to search social media including monitoring for brand and reputation management purposes. Smart online marketers have also been using social search for other reasons including competitive research and opportunistic content marketing through social keyword trends.

Most advice on how companies should be listening to the social web with minimal cost involves monitoring individual services, which is inefficient.  Premium social media monitoring services do this much more effectively but can be expensive.  Here are 6 free social search tools that may help small businesses make their initial foray into searching the social web more productive while keeping costs to a minimum.  

Delver Social Search
Delver is a “socially connected” search tool in alpha, that is based on your friends influence on content, i.e. drawing upon the “wisdom of crowds” to filter the universe of search content. You first identify your social profiles and can then add more specific information to then identify your own social graph. Facebook is emphasized. Search results are then influenced by your network.  If Google ever buys Facebook then this service might be an attractive target.

WhosTalkin? not to be confused with “Who U Stalkin”, is a social media search tool by Joe Hall that allows users to search for conversations around topics of interest.  Queries are performed against all sources but you can search on specific social services organized by: Blogs, News, Networks, Videos, Images, Forums and Tags.  The list of practicing SEOs that beta tested this tool includes some genuine smarties so this one may be worth watching since saved searches, RSS feeds and other features found in the tools below are not yet rolled out.

Samepoint is a social conversation search engine that segments search by: Social Mentions, Discussion Points, Bookmarks, Wikis, Network,s B2B Networks, Groups, Life Casting, MicroBlogs, Reviews, Podcasts, Documents, Video, Images, News and Web or all.  Each search result extracts sentinment and keywords as well. In fact, there’s a trending social search term page which I think is very interesting.  The Discussion Points feature is interesting because it shows the most commented content in the search results according to your query and the number of sources.

socialmention allows you to search a term on specific categories of the social web including:  Blogs, Microblogs, Bookmarks, Comments, Events, Images, News, Video or All. There’s also a Social Rank score based on the number of mentions every 4 weeks and you can subscribe to search results via RSS.

Serph, from ACS, has been around for several years and searches on blog search engines, social news and bookmarking websites such as Bloglines, Digg, Google Blog Search, YouTube, Topix, Sphere, Yahoo Answers, Flickr and Delicious. Serph is a bit slow but can be useful to cross check queries with other services and you can subscribe to search results via RSS.

OneRiot is a bit like Delver in that it uses your social network to influence the search universe for your query but takes heavy consideration of what’s currently popular within your network when sorting search results.  Topics that are “emerging” or “surging” are indicated as such in the search results. OneRiot is alpha at the moment, but has promise.

Nearly all social media monitoring tools are keyword based and use some kind of crawler or data aggregator to harvest information and then various schemes to organize and sort as search results or monitoring reports.  Each social search tool has unique features, whether it’s crawling the social web at large or filtering by your network. One or more of the 6 tools above might be right for you to start tracking conversations about your company, brands and even your competition.

From a marketing standpoint, social search tools like those above create additional content and marketing opportunity discovery options for real-time situations, that most standard search engines can’t compete with.

There have been numerous efforts made with tools like Custom Google Search Engines, Yahoo Pipes and home grown programming to create low cost or free social search tools, but what other free tools have you found to be effective at searching multiple sources of social content on the web?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Don’t forget the Freemium version of Techrigy SM2. It offers the full range of analytics that the Pro version offers.

    WebSuccessDiva.com says, “there is an ample free account that will help you in your social media observations. My team has been using SM2 since it

    • Thanks Connie. This post is focused more on social search tools that behave like search engines. Perhaps there’s a version of the Techrigy monitoring tool along those lines?

  2. thanks for sharing this. Love to know what is going on and what is planned for launch. Especially when it comes to social media.

    Keep it coming.

  3. Thanks for the list very useful. Which one is you favorite? I have tried who is talking previously and it is really useful!! If you are looking for another tool try PopUrl


  4. Thanks, Lee. A great list of social search engines to rock in the new year 😉

  5. Fantastic list, thanks for pulling this together.

    I can’t help but wonder where any of these tools will generate revenues. Will they offer premium services, like SM2?

    Will they send premium/paid brand messages targeted at bloggers?

    Will they join a business intel suite?

    We’ve seen so many tools, from technorati on down, launch a unique utility only to see them flail in the face of the market. Where will these solutions net out?

  6. Excellent point Jon. I think some of the services will only work when combined with another existing service like Facebook or Google. Others, as you have suggested will offer premium versions. I think a social search engine is a great freemium model for a monitoring service but none offer that so far. Yet 🙂

  7. Great list Lee! Just the tools my clients can use to track topics related to their products and services, particularly when preparing a new launch.
    Am I right in thinking that Delver would be useful in identifying thought leaders and/or persons of influence on specific topics?


    • Hi Lisa, Delver uses your own network to find and track topics.

      The degree of influence of the source of any one item presented in the search results isn’t the focus as much as the popularity of the term you’re searching on.

      To get a measure of real influence according to category or topic, you may need to use a premium social media monitoring service.

  8. Lee – I work at OneRiot – thanks for the shoutout 🙂
    As you mention, we pay a lot of attention to what’s popular right now (what we call “the pulse”) in relation to any particular search query. This makes our results fresh and socially-relevant. They also change as the online zeitgeist changes. i.e. as people start talking about different stuff in relation to any term, this bubbles up to the top of our search results for that query. (A search for “Obama” will demonstrate this very well: today’s top result is about Ann Coulter’s new book slamming Michelle Obama; tomorrow’s result might be about Barack’s views on Gaza, or whatever. i.e. we show you “the pulse” on “Obama” right now). We’ll soon be making it easier for users to “track a term” so that they can keep up-to-date with the moving pulse on any topic as it changes in real time. On a final note, we also have Facebook Connect integration allowing users to seamlessly share the pulse on any topic with their Facebook Friends (this is another social layer to social search). As you mention, we’re still in Alpha – and i’d be very happy to get some feedback (or feature requests!) from your readers. Thanks again, tobias @ oneriot.

    • Thanks for stopping by and the info Tobias, much appreciated. Looking forward to seeing where you take oneriot. I’ll try to ping you with feedback with more use.

  9. Avatar Matt Granfield says

    Great list, it’s good to see so many people are putting ideas together. I’ve been working on a monitoring tool (http://www.dpdialogue.com.au/dialogix.html) and the idea of making it a fremium search service is starting to look rather appealing.

  10. I am really glad you have SERPH on here. I have been using them for what seems forever now, but it should be on anyones list of new sites to use (social media or not) for 2009

    • Thanks Matt. I’m not sure how much ACS supports Serph these days, but it was/is certainly a pioneer in the space of social media search tools.

  11. Thanks for the list, Lee. Any chance you can get subjective here and talk about which of these have worked best (and worst?) for you in your testing? That might give some of us a head start on which one or two to dive into first.

    Bryan | @BryanPerson

  12. Avatar abdal malik says

    nice post, Bro…

  13. I have started following your blog on a fairly regular basis. The content is always interesting. Can you give some numbers for click conversions when social media sites are the url that the traffic is derived from?

    • Thanks Jerry, the click through rates and conversion rates for social media sites will vary as much as they do on any web site. However, your question leads me to believe you intend on measuring social media traffic the same way you would web site traffic and that’s not really the way social media marketing works. Social media traffic can certainly lead to page views, visits and conversions, but a lot of the value from social media marketing is about facilitating word of mouth, influence and recommendations over any kind of direct marketing goals.

      Check out these posts on social media marketing for more info:

      What is your social media strategy?

      Get Social Media Smart with 26 Tips on the Social Web

  14. Thanks for the great list Lee, its great for keeping up to date with the latest tools!

  15. Thanks for this excellent and informative article.

    Social Media marketing and optimization is a service I’ve just started offering to my clients, so I’ll definitely incorporate this information on this part of my site

  16. What a terrific list.

    Thanks for the information, especially since it’s often difficult to keep tabs on the ever-evolving world of social networking. I will be watching this site and its content closely.


  17. marina de martino
    I think that it’s hard to pulse the reality in the real sense of the world, because I wonder if is it real what appears?

    • That’s a good point Marina, but I suppose perception is the reality too, right? We have only what can be observed and measured to go by when making decisions, otherwise it’s a guesswork.

  18. Avatar Ruben Zevallos Jr. says

    Very nice list… I

  19. Hi Lee,

    Thanks for putting this together. Just what I needed to understand all the social networking search engines.

  20. Great lists. I am using Whoistalkin and I think its a great piece of software.

  21. The list is a bit small but there are some great options. My question is do you feel microblogging has reached a point where it needs its own tracking category?

    Are you folks going to work on an article that just focuses on microblogging and the various internet tools?

    • Hey Ed, if you know of any other social media meta search tools, please drop links in a comment. These 6 tools search many different types of social media sites including microblogging. URL shortening services like zi.ma and cli.gs are more useful for microblogging tracking – at least from a marketing perspective.

      We have several posts on microblogging, specifically Twitter here: http://zi.ma/9ccb03

  22. Avatar Debbie Hemley says

    I’ve just spent some time exploring these six tools. They are remarkably robust–and will be very helpful to get a pulse of social media especially on this first Monday, of the first full work week, of the first month –of this New Year.

    As always, thanks for your posts.

    Debbie Hemley

  23. Thank you for collecting this information! It is very useful!

  24. Avatar Richard Krueger says

    Lee – very useful list. Thanks for the mention. At http://www.samepoint.com, we’re continuously adding sources and improving relevance. Please check back often. As always, we appreciate your feedback. Happy New Year!

  25. Avatar Debbie Foster says

    Hi Lee,

    Great list to check out. Have you ever looked at AllTop.com? It’s one I’ve used along with PopUrl.com


  26. Very good list of Social Search Engines.

  27. How do The Mechanical Zoo, SideStripe, and Fluther fit into the picture?

  28. Social search is something that I wasn’t aware of until recently and I’m thankful for such a post regarding the array of options we have in this realm of internet browsing. Also, I agree with the article in saying that this search option provides such an added value to companies and ideas from a marketing standpoint.

  29. Every single resource listed I never heard of so thanks for keeping me in the loop and as usual your readers are also a great source of information.


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