Searching Hashtags across Multiple Social Media Websites

by Samantha McClellan

Most hashtags fizzle out, but some can spread like wildfire. Hashtags to share experiences such as #tbt (throwback Thursday) or hashtags trending because of news events such as #Sochi or #BlackLivesMatter are used across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and more. Whether you’re following friends’ vacations (#BillandTedsExcellentRoadTrip2014), an avid news reader, or researching something like the evolution of communication in social media outlets, you may want to quickly look across multiple social media platforms for the same hashtag, word, or phrase.

Fortunately, there are actual search engines out there designed to allow you to search across multiple social media websites. But before we get to those search engines, I want to use an example to discuss some of these useful search engines with help from Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake:

As you probably noticed, they’ve introduced us to a lot of hashtags. Perhaps some have gone by the wayside (this clip is from September 2013, after all), but maybe some have stuck. In the spirit of “It’s almost winter break,” Jimmy Fallon uses the hashtag #IsItFridayYet. I’ll explore this hashtag throughout this blog post to explore a couple of these social media search engines.

Exhibit 1: Topsy

While Topsy is known for social analytics, it also serves as a social search engine. It features limiters that allow you to look at tweets, links, photos, and videos from certain time ranges. As well, you can limit to the aforementioned links, photos, et cetera. You can also view the Top 100, 1000, 5000, or 20,000 links that are being promoted on the web through social media.

Going back to the social analytics part, you can look at the tweets per day for the past month of your hashtag (circled in red in the image below). This could be particularly interesting for a before-and-after perspective of a news event, especially if you’re analyzing conversations surrounding events such as the Sochi Winter Olympics or the Michael Brown or Eric Garner grand jury decisions and protests.


Exhibit 2: SocialMention

                SocialMention is another social analytics tool that also acts as a social media search engine. Unlike Topsy, it provides analytics right on the same page as your search results. Sticking with #IsItFridayYet, I searched all media platforms (over 100 platforms including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google, and more).


Though a small screenshot, you can see that the social analytics are on the left and the results are on the right, allowing you to organize the results and sort by date. SocialMention features an advanced search option that allows you to focus on keywords you want in your result, exact phrasing, unwanted keywords, as well as pulling results from only specific sources such as blogs or news as well as results from a specific location, which gives you, the searcher, a lot of capability in limiting down your results.

Though #IsItFridayYet was an example provided by the dynamic duo of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, just imagine how powerful these search engines can be for you, whether personally or academically. Imagine searching #McDonalds if you’re in a business class and paying attention to the social analytics of the hashtag for a marketing class; imagine searching #ElectionDay or #RocktheVote during Election Day. You can follow absolutely anything with these tools with the ability to search across multiple platforms.

Of course, these aren’t your only options. Others include WhosTalkin? and Social Searcher. With any of these tools, you can set up an RSS feed or an e-mail alert for certain hashtags, keywords, or phrases popping up across social media to stay up to date on anything that interests you.

For more information on social media search engines, check out a recent Forbes publication entitled 4 Social Search Engines to Track User Data, which emphasizes the information marketers can gather on potential consumers. If you’re curious what hashtags are trending, take a look at Tagdef or

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