Hartley Brody

Search Twitter Like a Pro

twitter-search-tips With more that 140 million Tweets sent per day, Twitter contains tons of information from the collective public conscious.

Twitter offers a free, public search tool that lets you search through every public Tweet over the last few days, and you don’t even need a Twitter account to use it. But sifting through all of that information can be a bit overwhelming.

Here are some Twitter search tips that I’ve found to be very helpful.

The Negation Operator

A lot of times the keyword you’re searching for is used in multiple contexts, and not all of them are related to what you’re actually searching for. For example, a search for “windows” might return results about the operating system, as well as the panes of glass on the side of a house.

You can tell Twitter to specially exclude tweets that contain a word by adding a single dash directly before the word. Make sure you don’t put a space between the dash and the term.

This tells Twitter to exclude any result that contains that term, and helps you focus your search on the right context. So if you wanted to search for tweets that focused on the panes of glass, you might use “windows -microsoft” to remove mentions of the technology company.

The negation operator can be used in conjunction with many of the other search filters, as you’ll see below.

Retweets

You can look for retweets by adding “RT” to your query. Even when someone clicks the “retweet” button and doesn’t actually add an “RT” to the tweet, it will still show up with an “RT” in Twitter search.

If you want to exclude all retweets, simply include “-RT” and you can focus on original tweets.

Tweets with Links

Add “filter:links” to your query to only return tweets that contain links.

One of the really cool features of Twitter search is that it can see into shortened links. That means that if you tweet a bit.ly link that points to an article on this blog, Twitter knows that the link contains this domain, and will return it in a search.

So even if people are tweeting links to your site using different shortening services, you can still search for your domain and see all links that point to your site.

A lot of people use Twitter to share links to stories, but sometimes you want to focus on what people are saying, and not what they’re sharing. If you’re trying to find opinions or feedback on a topic, you might want to exclude all tweets with links by using the negation operator: “-filter:links”.

Filter Tweets by Source

You can choose to include or exclude tweets based on where they were sent from by adding the “source:” operator.

You probably won’t use this filter too much, but I’ve found it helpful to sometimes include “-source:tweet_button” to remove all tweets generated when someone simply clicked a “Tweet” button. These are pre-populated tweets, and normally they aren’t really saying anything interesting.

Focus on a City

If you want to focus your search on all tweets coming from a certain location, you can add “near:” and the name of the city. This is supported for most major cities in the world.

You can also add a “within:” operator to specify the distance from the area, like “near:Boston within:15mi”.

This only works for tweets that include geolocation information, but it can be really cool if you’re trying to focus on a specific, localized event.

Even More!

For a full list of Twitter search operators, click here.

Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can leverage Twitter to conduct market research, collect feedback, watch discussion trends or just see what people are talking about around the world. Try it out!