One of the best kept secrets in social media (or maybe not) is that Twitter is an invaluable search engine. Oddly enough, the truth is that every time you click a hashtag, you are using Twitter Search. Though the wealth of knowledge and exceptional opportunity that lies behind that Twitter search bar is not so obvious for many users.
When someone considers performing a search on Twitter, it's highly likely that they frame their thinking around isolated, one-off use cases-perhaps searching for a specific user or following a trending news story or live event. And while Twitter added powerful Twitter Search filters to their mobile apps almost a year ago and has made several other search enhancements more recently, the reality is that search is still an unbelievably underutilized functionality within the Twitter platform.
Leveraging advanced Twitter search is one way to narrow your queries and get more out of Twitter's vast store of knowledge and consumer intent. However, with some creativity and a bit of technical know-how, you can actually perform some pretty intricate searches on Twitter, narrowing in on a particular topic from specific sources and uncovering actionable insight.
The following are a few creative ways to use the [domain + keyword] operator to enhance your Twitter search.
Find Leads & Thought Leadership Opportunities
Quora and LinkedIn are great places-particularly for B2B businesses-to source professional content, find qualified leads and discover thought leadership opportunities. Oftentimes, Twitter is used as a conduit to broaden the reach of the knowledge share taking place on these networks. To that end, and somewhat paradoxically, Twitter search can be used to find valuable opportunities to engage outside of Twitter.
- Search quora.com/linkedin.com + "relevant keyword or topic" to discover great content via the LinkedIn Influencer network or find opportunities to share your own thought leadership in an existing Quora thread.
- For example: quora.com + "social media management tools"
- Search quora.com/linkedin.com + "your business' name/handle" to discover if your business or product is being asked about or mentioned on LinkedIn or Quora already.
- For example: linkedin.com + "Sprout Social"
Of course, B2B businesses are not the only ones who can gain insight from the [domain + keyword] search. In fact, brick-and-mortar businesses-whether a local shop or a national retail chain-can take this search tactic one step further by narrowing in on URLs from geo-location services or check-in apps.
Make the Online-to-Offline Connection
Everyday, millions of consumers use social media to digitally share their real, physical location. Whether it's a real-time check-in via Foursquare (now Swarm) or a Yelp review written hours or even days after visiting a location, these location-based data points can be extremely powerful signals for brick-and-mortar businesses. While consumers don't always tweet these check-ins, you'd be surprised how often some do.
- Search swarmapp.com + "your business' name" to see when customers have used Foursquare's Swarm app to checkin-in at your business and tweet about it. If your business has lots of locations spread across a region or the entire country, use the "near:city" qualifier to narrow your search.
- For example: swarmapp.com + Yogurtland near:LA
If you're not having luck using your business as the point of reference in the search, consider using a popular location or landmark with an address nearby. This is a great way to reach a potential customer who was in the neighborhood and left a digital breadcrumb signaling that they were near your business.
- Search yelp.com + "your business' name" to find customers who are writing reviews of your business and sharing them with their social graph. This could be a great way to find and reward brand advocates or to resolve a customer service issue.
Whether you catch one of these location-based signals in real-time or a day or two after the visit, there are lots of creative ways to engage and turn these customer moments into valuable interactions.
- Catch a visitor tweeting their check-in in real-time? Take the opportunity to surprise and delight the customer by offering a discount or simply replying with a message saying "Thanks for stopping in!"
- Come across a check-in or Yelp review tweeted a few days after it's been posted? "Favorite" the tweet to acknowledge their promotion of your business, or-in the case of an issue-respond back and direct them to one of your customer support channels.
Lastly, consider using this as an opportunity to gather valuable customer feedback by asking a visitor how their experience or service was. Of course, keep in mind the risk/reward of carrying out this exchange in a public forum such as Twitter.
Find a Tool to Save These Searches
While these searches can be performed directly through the Twitter search bar or by visiting the advanced Twitter search page, the problem is that they are extremely manual and require a bit of technical know-how-essentially understanding and memorizing boolean search operators.
In order to streamline the entire process, it's beneficial to find a tool that can save these searches and deliver them to you in an efficient manner. This is especially important if you manage several accounts-say, in an agency setting or for a global brand that maintains regional profiles. Performing these types of Twitter searches manually is nearly impossible to scale and effectively fit into an efficient daily workflow.
Solutions like Sprout Social's Brand Keywords feature allow you to save advanced keyword searches so you spend less time chasing down these opportunities and more time taking advantage of them. In addition, Brand Keywords are delivered straight to your Smart Inbox so you can view them alongside all of your other social messages. Because of this, you are able to:
- See how these keyword result messages fit in with the entirety of your social conversations
- Immediately engage with the resulting messages with a Favorite or by replying, Retweeting, etc.
- View many related searches together in one single-stream or isolate specific sets of keyword searches and apply date range filters
Whether it's gathering highly relevant consumer insight, seeking out opportunities to surprise and delight a potential customer, or simply to stay current on conversations that matter to you, businesses of all shapes and sizes-from local brick-and-mortar retail shops to globally distributed enterprise B2B software providers and everything in between-should be leveraging Twitter search to unlock valuable opportunities.
The opportunity cost of not doing so is just too high.