Search Twitter By User – A How-To Guide
Twitter’s advanced search tool is one of its most powerful functionalities, but unfortunately, it can be very easy to get wrong. Twitter provides this guide to its advanced search operators but without understanding how they work together, you can often end up hitting irrelevant results that are of no use to you or your brand.
This guide aims to help you understand the search operators you need to use when you search old tweets and are searching tweets by user. This can be really useful for finding out what people are saying to, and about, your brand and also for monitoring the conversation around your competitors.
Finding Tweets Sent From A Specific Twitter User
How does it work?
To search twitter by user or tweets from one specific twitter handle, you can use the search operator ‘from’. Search operators describe the language used to define or narrow down a search. These can be used on search engines such as Google, but also on some social media sites such as Twitter. Operators communicate to Twitter how you want to define your results. For example, the operator ‘from’ tells Twitter that you are only looking for results that are from a specific user.
For example: from:mashable would only return tweets that have been sent from the user Mashable. You can also combine this with a keyword search, if you want to narrow down your results even further when you are searching by user. For example: ‘Google Glass’ from:mashable will only return tweets that are sent from Mashable but that contain the phrase ‘Google Glass’, as shown below:
For this search, you do not need to include the ‘@’ sign before the handle as Twitter will automatically detect which user you are looking for.
Searching by User on Twitter: Why do I need the from operator?
The ‘from’ operator can be really useful to track specific Twitter users, within a specific industry or business. For example, you could use the ‘from’ operator alongside the ‘or’ operator (explained here) to create your own bespoke feed of news publications.
For example, from:mashable OR from:thenextweb OR from:venturebeat would create a great feed of news and updates from all of the main technology channels. By saving this search within Twitter or Tweetdeck, you can repeatedly refer back to it or you could use Twilert to set it up as a daily email alert.
Similarly, if you were looking to track what your competitors were saying you might want to setup a search that monitors all of their Twitter activity, for example if you were a Film streaming service, you might what to use this search: from:Netflix OR from:ITVplayer OR from:4oD OR from:BBCplayer to ensure you aren’t missing any crucial conversations within your industry.
Find Tweets sent to a Specific Twitter User
How does finding tweets sent to a user work?
To find people that have tweeted directly to a specific user, you can use the ‘to’ operator. For example, if you wanted to see everyone who had directly replied to BBC Radio 1, you could use the search to:BBCR1.
This would only return users who had sent a reply to the user @BBCR1 for example:
Why do I need it?
The benefit of using the ‘to’ operator when searching by user is that it pulls out tweets that you may not have otherwise seen. When a user starts a tweet with a @username the only people who see it are the sender, the recipient and anyone who is following both of those accounts. On Twitter web, the tweets and replies are separated into two separate folders, so even if you visited a user’s Twitter page, you would not see these replies unless you were specifically looking for them. By using the ‘to:user’ operator, you can track the conversations that are going on below the radar that may provide relevant insights and help you to stay on top of the competition.
For example, if you had produced a coat that was worn out by a celebrity, you would want to search for any tweets that were sent directly to that celebrity, mentioning the keyword ‘coat’. For example, @millsmackintosh coat would provide you with a long list of qualified leads who are interested in that product and want to know where they could buy it from.
Find Twitter Mentions for a User
How does it work?
To find tweets that mention a specific user, you can search for their Twitter handle e.g. @thenextweb
This will find any tweet that references the user ‘@thenextweb’. This will includes tweets that are replies, where the user is mentioned at the beginning of the tweet, as explained above and also tweets where the user is referenced anywhere throughout the tweet. Unlike the ‘to’ and ‘from’ search operators, the mention operator does need to contain the user’s @ before the name of their Twitter handle for this search.
Why do I need it?
This type of search is useful for finding out what is being said about either your brand, or a competitor brand. You can also use it in conjunction with a keyword search, to find out the conversation surrounding a specific topic. For example, Amazon receives thousands of tweets per day on its service, products and ventures, but if you were a competitor such as a Bookseller, you may just be interested in the tweets it receives about a specific book. By combining this with the mention search, you retrieve a great list of leads which you could then contact with a specific offer on that title or something within the same genre, knowing that they have already shown an interest to purchase.
Bonus point: How to exclude tweets from specific Twitter users within your search
As well as searching by twitter user, you may also want to exclude a user’s tweets from a conversation. For example, if you are a Project Management software company, you may be interested in what people are saying about the popular Basecamp software, but you wouldn’t necessarily need to see tweets from the company’s own handle @37signals. The search ‘Basecamp’ -from:@37signals would ensure that you only saw tweets about Basecamp from users other than @37signals.
Have you used Twitter’s username search queries? If so, how did it benefit you or your company? Share any thoughts or questions with us in the comments below. Also, check out Mobile Twitter Search