Twitter search is your gateway to unlocking potential, uncovering communities and tracking down news and opportunity across the channel. In a firehose where 7,000 tweets are sent every second (and that’s just on a Wednesday afternoon) Twitter search is your tool for sifting through.
Twitter search comes with an array of different options that most Twitter users don’t even know about. Want to find only tweets that contain links? No problem! Want to search for a keyword on someone’s feed? Sure thing!
Even when you’re focused on just searching for a specific user there are a ton of options. Do you want to see tweets sent to that user, tweets mentioning the user or tweets from that user? Do you want to search by bio, account or people you follow?
Once you have the basics under your belt, Twitter advanced search is a gold mine of information, tweets and opportunity. Allowing you to find sales leads, keep a close eye on your brand and be the first on the scene of news or industry developments.
To uncover the best Twitter tips and everything you need to know about Twitter search, read on…
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Here you have a few options. The most well-known will be Twitter’s search bar. You’ve probably already used this in the past to look up a Twitter user or hashtag. If you haven’t, it’s on the Twitter homepage in the right hand corner.
On mobile, you’ll see the look up icon in the same place – top right.
To use the Twitter search bar you can type in a phrase, hashtag or username and as well as seeing a dropdown of top options, you can also go through to a twitter search results page, not dissimilar to Google.
Here the results will usually be ordered in this priority:
Any big news stories – (particularly if you’ve searched something that’s happening in realtime such as a recent royal announcement).
Accounts – if there are any accounts matching your search terms then these will surface next, allowing you to follow that user or look at their tweets.
Top tweets – if there are no accounts or big news stories, you’ll see the ‘top’ tweets instead. According to the Twitter blog, top tweets “finds the Tweets that have caught the attention of other users”. These are selected by an algorithm that looks at number of retweets, likes and clicks. This means that the ‘top tweets’ you see may not necessarily be the most up-to-date or relevant.
Live, news, photos and videos – if you want to filter the search results you can click across one of Twitter’s tabs to choose ‘live’ (most recent tweets), tweets from the news, photos or videos.
More options – the more options button on the righthand side allows you filter between even more options, to search tweets just from people you follow, by geolocation or to even save your search for a later date.
There are also some rules you should know when searching on Twitter which we call ‘search operators’. These define how you search and what results Twitter will respond with, but we’ll go into detail on this in the next section.
Twitter Search Alerts with Twilert
A second way to search and save tweets is through a Twitter search client such as Twilert. The benefit of using Twilert is that once you enter your search terms and refine your results, Twilert sends you email alerts with the results, straight to your inbox. This saves you having to remember to search the channel for brand names, tweets from users, hashtags and so on. The email alerts can be sent in realtime, hourly or daily depending on how frequently you need to review the tweets that matter.
Setting up your Twilerts are as simple as using Twitter search – simply enter your keyword, hashtag or handle, preview the results on the right-hand side then refine based on what you want to see using the drop down filters (more on this in a minute).
Twitter Search Guide for Google
Lastly, you can create a Twitter search on Google. In 2015, Google announced on the Google blog that they were expanding the search results for desktop and mobile users to display tweets. This means that you can search ‘Twitter’ and your keyword or user of choice and you’ll see the top realtime results. For example, the search ‘Beyonce Twitter’ brings up the below results including Beyonce’s handle, news about Beyonce on twitter and related hashtags.
Twitter Search Advanced Operators
Now here comes the secret behind Twitter search success. Twitter’s advanced search operators are filters that narrow down your search results and allow you to pinpoint exactly what you’re searching for.
Twitter provides the below guide to its search operators which can be useful when you’re getting to grips with how they work:
If you find these difficult to remember then you can use Twitter’s advanced search panel which makes life a little easier. However, if you can learn the general search terms it does make searching easier and allows you to tailor your results more closely to what you’re looking for.
Within Twilert, the search operators are easy to define and use. The simple dropdown panel gives you access to every search filter possible, from user to multiple keyword and tweets sent by specific users containing specific keywords.
Twitter Search Options
In this section we’ll dive into the most useful searches you can use on Twitter to drill down into users, keywords and specific phrases.
1. Searching by keyword
There are a few different ways to search by keyword that make for quite different results. Here are the three main ones to focus on:
Searching by keywords
Any keywords you enter into the Twitter search panel (or into a client like Twilert) will be given an invisible ‘AND’ between them. For example, if you search social media Twitter will return only the tweets that contain both ‘social’ and ‘media’, in any order throughout the tweet. As you can see below, the search social media london has pulled up tweets that contain all three of the keywords, all in different orders and placed in multiple different ways throughout the tweet.
If you search social media london agency recommend Twitter will only return the tweets that contain ‘social’ and ‘media’ and ‘london’ and ‘agency’ and ‘recommend’ i.e. – not very many! With this type of searching you are best to limit the number of keywords you use to two or three and refine those keywords until you can narrow down your results. Otherwise, you’re best to use the ‘OR’ operator which we’ll come onto in a sec.
Searching by phrase
If you want to look for a specific phrase, in a specific order, then you can use simple quotation marks to let Twitter know. For example “london hotel recommendation” will return tweets like those below where the entire phrase appears in order.
Searching for multiple keywords or terms
To search for multiple keywords or terms (or do anything, including excluding multiple users from your search results or excluding multiple terms) you need the OR operator.
Within Twilert, this is made simple – much simpler in fact than searching within Twitter itself or within the Twitter search panel.
Simply enter your Twilert account, select ‘Filter by word(s)’ and then ‘something OR other’. You’ll then see a box which looks like the below, where you can enter all of the keywords you wish to search for. These can be phrases, single words, hashtags – whatever you like really!
If you do want to use this type of search directly in Twitter you need to enter the manual ‘OR’ operator and quotation marks for any phrase that has two words or more. For example:
2. Searching by user
A sweet little search to know and understand is how to search by user. With this search you can find specific keywords and topics sent in a user’s feed. Tweets from all of your favourite sources and even who’s contacting your competitors. Here’s how it works:
The first user search to know about is from user. To search tweets sent from a specific user, you should use the from:user operator. For example: from: mcdonalds. You can also use this search to find specific keywords and terms tweeted by that user. For example from:mcdonalds “chicken mcnuggets” would find all tweets sent by the user @mcdonalds containing the key phrase “chicken mcnuggets”.
This is a powerful way to monitor specific keywords and user activity on the channel.
The to:user search works in a similar way to the from:user search. As may be obvious, this finds all tweets sent to a specific user. This can be really useful for monitoring tweets from your users, in order to provide rapid customer service. When you view your notifications, you’ll see everything from retweets, to likes and mentions.
By setting up a Twilert that just monitors to:user (containing your handle) you can get an email alert or email digest that shows everyone who is reaching out to contact your brand. Therefore allowing you to respond more quickly and with direction.
The ‘to:user’ search can also help you to monitor competitors and your potential community. By searching for tweets sent to your competitor you may find disgruntled customers who you could follow, interact with, or send over a special offer by DM. This also gives you an insight into what they want from a company within your niche. Great for market research and potentially attracting a new customer base, all from one simple Twitter search.
The third user search to know is searching for mentions of specific users. This allows you to find any tweets mentioning a specific user. To do this, you simply search by their handle e.g. ‘@mashable’. By searching for the handle, you will find any tweet that references the user ‘@mashable’. This will includes replies to that handle, direct mentions and connected replies.
3. Exclusions and filtering
Once you have the basic keyword and user searches nailed, you can get clever with exclusions and filters. Twitter search is filled with opportunities for narrowing down your results. This includes excluding retweets in order to filter out the noise, searching only for tweets that contain links or even narrowing your search to just those verified users.
In Twilert, you have an extensive search panel of filtering options which makes it easy to exclude links, retweets, users and more. As well as filtering by positive and negative sentiment, verified users and tweets that contain a question.
To search through Twitter, you can enter the filters and exclusions manually. Some of the most common exclusions and filters include:
A combination search is where you include different search operators and filter tools in order to narrow down your results to pinpoint what you want to see. For example, if you are looking for specific articles around a topic, you may want to filter your search to contain only tweets with links. For example “digital marketing” filter:links will only show you tweets containing the phrase “digital marketing” and a URL.
Similarly, if you wanted to search for tweets that didn’t contain any links you could change your search to “digital marketing” -filter:links. By adding the subtraction symbol before ‘filter’ you will find results that contain the phrase “digital marketing” but without any links.
While looking at your results, you may decide you want to exclude retweets to save doubling up on content. So you add ‘exclude:retweets’ to your search so that it becomes “digital marketing” filter:links exclude:retweets
By adding together the appropriate filters, you can get a rich list of leads or insights directly targeted for your business.
Making Twitter search easy
It may feel like there’s a lot to remember but with Twilert, using Twitter search becomes easy. Select your keywords, choose your filters from the dropdown list and once you’ve saved your search you’ll receive timely updates as often as you need them. Allowing you to better track brand mentions, keep up to date with competitors and be first on the scene of industry updates.