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How to Search Twitter With Eagle-Like Vision
Posted on December 6th 2012
As you may or may not know, there are a number of Twitter search operators that can greatly enhance the value of your Twitter search results. If you haven’t used them, or didn’t know about the full range of search operators, you may be surprised at how powerful a Twitter search can be.
You can review the full list of operators here, but following are a list of operators that I’ve found to be particularly helpful:
Placing quotation marks around your search returns results containing the exact phrase within. For example, “social media marketing” will yield results containing the exact term ‘social media marketing’.
I’ve found quotation marks to be incredibly helpful with increasing the relevance of searches for any phrase, name, brand, consumer anecdote, or anything that is longer than a single word. Search forsocial media and you’ll get results about grade 8 social dances as well as acrylic paint. Search for “social media” and your search results will be much more in line with what you’re really looking for.
Using the word OR between search terms produces results containing your first search term, or your second search term, or both. For example, social OR media, will yield results containing the words social OR media OR social media.
There are a couple of cases where I find the OR operator to be particularly helpful. The first is when I’m searching for highly related search terms and I predict that one term versus the other will not deteriorate the relevance of my results. Also, there are times that I’ll predict that people might describe a single thing I’m searching for in different ways and I’d like the results to show both.
Precede a search term with a dash that you do not want to show up in your results. For example, social –media, will yield results for the word ‘social’, but not ‘media’.
The dash is an incredibly useful search operator. I frequently use this to eliminate commonly associated words from my searches to really focus my results. Frequently, I’ll conduct searches for chatter about a given organization, but don’t want results that would be associated with one of their business units. To minimize results about unrelated business units, I’ll simply eliminate keywords that I anticipate will cloud my search.
Use this search operator following your desired keywords to limit results to those generated by people in the specified location. For example, social media near:“toronto”, will yield results for social media from users in Toronto.
As you know, Twitter is a pretty massive social media network, which means people are tweeting about all sorts of different things, from all sorts of different places. While this is amazing for a multitude of reasons, when you’re looking to find the most relevant information, connect with people who are geographically close to you, or monitor conversations on a business in a localized area, the ‘near’ operator is amazing for filtering your search results. You can narrow your results by country, city or town.
A question mark following your search term will show tweets that ask a question. For example, social media marketing ?, will yield questions that contain the search term ‘social media marketing’.
I’m frequently asked how to go about engaging with people on Twitter. Given the sheer number of people on the platform, and the fact that we frequently follow, and are followed by people we don’t necessarily know from the real world, connecting with others can be overwhelming and intimidating. An easy way to engage with people on Twitter is to conduct a search for questions people have that fall within your area of expertise and – you guessed it – answer them.
Combine Search Operators
As powerful as Twitter’s search operators can be for refining your search results, try combining them for even better, more focused results.
If you find yourself repeatedly searching the same terms, Twitter allows you to save up to 6 searches for quick access. Saved searches can be unsaved to accommodate a new saved search.
Popular Twitter clients, HootSuite and TweetDeck, allow you to setup dedicated streams with search results. This can be an incredibly effective way to stay in tune with the pulse of your audience, what is important to them, and what they are saying about your brand, to list a few common uses. When setting up your search streams, remember that all of the Twitter search operators will also work here.
Do you have any Twitter search tips you’d like to share?
What search operators do you find to be particularly useful?
As always, it would be great to hear from you in the comments.