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POLS 063: African Politics (SC)

Political Science 063: African Politics (Paddon-Rhoads) Fall 2021

Using Social Media for Research

There are some unique challenges to searching social media for research purposes. An excellent place to start is this guide to doing social media research (updated June 2023), including Instagram, TikTok, Telegram, and four other major platforms.

Searching Social Media

You can find public social media posts using Google and other search engines (e.g. DuckDuckGo, Bing). You'll likely get different results than what you get searching inside the app.

Find Facebook posts: 

nigeria vaccines

Find posts from Tiktok or Instagram:

nigeria vaccines I
Use the vertical pipe | character to separate the website URLs.

Find specific kinds of social media content:

Find Instagram posts (instead of profiles) using Google:  

Find TikTok videos (instead of Discover pages w/ multiple videos) using Google:
keyword site: 

Limit search results by date range
*Important caveat: Dates in Google may reflect when content was indexed, not uploaded. Always confirm date information, including using the Youtube Data Viewer or TikTok Date Extractor those sites.

Posted before Nov 1, 2021:
"fly a drone" before:2021-11-01

Posted after 2021:
"fly a drone" after:2021

Posted between 11/1/21–3/1/22:
drone after:2021-10-31 before:2022-03-02

Use this tool to search across multiple social media platforms at once. (Just like when you're searching Google, you'll only get public posts in your results.)

Here's an example search:

search results from


You can use CrowdTangle to find out how widely shared a link has been on Facebook.

The total likes and shares reported by CrowdTangle include actions taken in private accounts. You'll need a Facebook account to use this Chrome extension.

Here's an example:

screenshot of CrowdTangle results

Social Media Research Tools

Explore a topic, term, or hashtag:

Get information about videos

How to do research using:

Identify trends and popular stories


How-To & Data Journalism Resources