The key to getting under the skin of any social media channel is knowing where to look for the great content, leads and audience members and of course, what to search for. On Twitter, this is perhaps easier than anywhere else due to Twitter’s powerful search function. In our search tool Twilert, we see hundreds of customer searching TWITTER using keywords and operators that are guaranteed to uncover leads and opportunity.

To help you do the same, we’re sharing seven of the best Twitter search operators and combinations that will help you to find real business value from Twitter. The best thing is, you can simply swap out any of the keywords or phrases below for your own and you’ll have an arsenal of search queries that can be captured and used any time you like!

P.S – Any of the Twitter search operators and queries below can be entered either into the Twitter Search box which you can find in the top right-hand corner of your Twitter page, or in a search and monitoring tool such as Twilert.

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1.The user Twitter search operator

An extremely useful search on Twitter that many people don’t know about is how to search for tweets from, to and mentioning specific Twitter users. This is useful for a few reasons:

  • Sometimes you want to search tweets from a specific user (or your own) that contain a certain keyword
  • By searching tweets sent to a user you can see what people are talking about and how that user is responding
  • When viewing Twitter on desktop, we still see tweets separated into ‘tweets’ and ‘tweets and replies’ so by searching, you catch everything, not just the obvious tweets that are in the feed

To search for tweets sent to a user, you simply enter the search to:handle for example, to:cnn would find all tweets sent to the user @cnn.

To make this even more useful, you can also add a keyword. For example, if you wanted to find out the most commonly asked questions to your favourite blogger (perhaps to fuel your own blogposts or find ways of promoting your own products) you could search to:tanyaburr where is your

This would find all of the tweets sent to the blogger @tanyaburr that contain the keywords ‘where is your’ which, as you can see from the results below, is a popular query when it comes to asking for ideas or details on clothing and products.

to user twitter search query

As well as searching by user, you may also want to exclude a user’s tweets from a conversation. So if you want to read all of the tweets sent to @johnlewisretail but there is one user caught up in a serious customer service queue of tweets that you don’t need to read you can search to:johnlewisretail -davidsmith101 and you’ll exclude all tweets from the user David Smith, but still keep all of the other tweets sent to the user @johnlewisretail.

2. The hashtag Twitter search operator

We all know how to search by hashtag right? Of course we do. Simply enter the hashtag of your choice into Twitter or Twilert’s search function tool and you can easily see a stream of hashtags that match yours. The way to use the hashtag search operator to generate business leads is to get clever with combining it with other search terms.

For example, if you search #prrequest tech you’ll only see a list of requests from PRs that are related to the technology industry.

PR request hashtag tool

Now as you can see from the above, sometimes you’ll get results that aren’t relevant, like these ones from Argos’ PR team. To get around that, you can add two additional filter operators to your search: #prrequest tech -argos_pr -RT

PR request filtered results

This excludes not only tweets from the user @argos_pr (not relevant) but also any retweets which won’t be that useful. Suddenly the results are much more relevant and interesting to your use case.

3. The link Twitter search operator

When we’re researching for a new blogpost or story, we often find that Google provides information overload. For example, if you search ‘Twitter search tips’ you’ll get blogposts in the first page of results that have been around since 2012. Obviously in their time, these blogposts were incredibly useful and have achieved high-ranking due to their popularity and the popularity of the sites they are featured on. However for you, someone who is looking to provide the very latest tips and reference points, it can mean scrolling through pages and pages of Google results until you find the articles that are relevant.

Enter Twitter search.

By using Twitter search and the handy operators we’re about to show you, it’ll be easier to source the latest and most relevant links and articles for you to share online, or to add weight to your own stories.

For example, if you search snapchat marketing filter:links you’ll get a page of results that shows tweets that contain the keywords ‘snapchat’ and ‘marketing’ with article links. This weeds out the tweets where users are just talking about marketing or Snapchat and provides you with a rich list of articles to search through. If you do this in the Twitter search panel, you’ll also be able to filter by ‘top’ or ‘latest’ results, meaning you can get the articles which have the highest value (a bit like the first page on Google) or the articles which have the most up-to-date tips in them.
twilert search filter by links

4. Searching for tweets by date

Here’s a search we use all the time, not just to view the tweets of others but also to view our own. Twitter offers a nifty date search operator that allows you to search for tweets in three ways:

  • tweets sent before a specific date
  • tweets sent after a specific date
  • tweets sent between two specific dates (which you have to be clever and create yourself, as we’ll show you below)

To search for tweets sent between two specific dates you enter the search operators since:2014-12-24 until:2014-12-30 – this will find any tweets sent 24th December 2014 – 30th December 2014. If you just want to search for tweets sent before or up to a certain date, you can use the former or the latter on their own.

You can also combine the date search with a user handle, so that you can track all of the tweets sent within a specific period. For example, if we wanted to see all of the tweets we sent over the festive period two years previous, perhaps to see how we could grow and build on the campaign for this Christmas, we could search from:twilert since:2014-12-24 until:2014-12-30 

searching Twitter by date

5. The media Twitter search operator

As well as filtering tweets for links, as we discussed above, you can also use filter search operators to break down your tweets into only those containing images or video. This is super useful if there is a high-profile incident or event and you want to capture just the images. To do this, you simply add filter:media to your tweets. For example, filter:media general election will find tweets that contain the keywords ‘general election’ plus an image or video.

filtering tweets by media

If you want to narrow this down even further, you can also use the filter:images and filter:nativevideo operators, to search for tweets that contain just images or just native videos within Twitter.

6. The question Twitter search operator

Want to know what questions your potential customers are asking competitor brands? Or perhaps what the ‘hot’ marketing topics are that you should write about on your blog? All of the information is out there on Twitter, all it takes is a simple search to help you find it.

For example, if you are a customer service tool you could search to:intercom ? 

By adding the question mark symbol to your search you will find all of the tweets sent to the user @intercom that contain a question mark.

Twitter competitor search using question marks

This gives a great insight into user problems and more general questions that your customers are asking of other brands within your niche.

The question mark operator is also super useful for finding people that your business could help! For example, we often take a look at searches such as recommend best Twitter tool ? which help uncover those who need help with Twitter tool recommendations – our area of expertise!

7. The sentiment Twitter search operator

Lastly, sentiment searches on Twitter are another great way to discover potential customers and those you can help. You only have to search 🙁 phone network to see how many people are unhappy with their current supplier. As a phone network provider this gives you a rich list of leads, ready to reach out to, perhaps even with a special offer.

sentiment search on Twitter

Of course, you can flip this too using the positive sentiment operator 🙂 in order to search for positive tweets surrounding your brand or business. This is great if you get hundreds of brand mentions or if you want to find tweets with positive sentiment for a report, presentation or perhaps to show on a social media wall.

positive sentiment search on twitter

Twitter search and the opportunity for your business

Businesses everywhere are using Twitter search to narrow down results, find leads and gain new customers. Learning how to use a few simple Twitter search operators could completely change the way you use Twitter. And guess what, it’s even easier to make use of the above when you save them in Twilert and get email alerts each time your keywords are mentioned.

Try it today using our free trial at