Social Media Tips and Tricks – Twitter Search

Andrew Birkitt

Lead Technical Engineer
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Just about everyone we know is now using Twitter in one form or another, whether it is for business use or on a personal basis. What a lot of people don’t realise though is that Twitter is a great tool for doing research and searching for information in general but many of us don’t know how to use the powerful search commands that we have at our disposal. Of course as well as a great resource for information, the search commands within Twitter are also great for finding out about topics in your particular business niche so it’s well worth spending a little time getting to grips with some of the more common commands and we will discuss these more in this post.

Basic Search and the Hashtag #

Twitters basic search commands work much like those of any search engine, so for example type in the words social media in the search box and Twitter will deliver any tweets that contain both of these words. You can refine the search so that the results match the phrase exactly by surrounding the phrase in quotes, so for example “social media” will find tweets containing that exact phrase.

Much the same way as in other search functions you can refine this basic search with the use of operators as well such as OR and . Let’s take our example again, but this time use one of these operators, social OR media will now deliver tweets that contain “social” or ”media (or both). Using the operator on the other hand as in this example “social –media” will deliver tweets containing “social” but NOTmedia”.

The hashtag or # is a great way for twitter users to group tweets associated with a specific topics for example #socialmedia will find all tweets containing the hashtag “#socialmedia”. So while you can use Twitter’s search functions in many ways including finding people and specific terms in messages the hashtag is much more like a way of indexing specific terms and sorting them into topics and categories that you can visit later. (You can save any searches that you perform in Twitter to visit at any time from the Searches tab on the homepage at the click of a button)

Advanced Searches with Twitter

With the basics out of the way let’s take a look at some of the more unknown commands that can be used with Twitter Search, these include things such as finding people, places, date and attitude searches.

Places search is a great way of narrowing down specific items within a specific location or even a specified distance surrounding that location. So for example using the command “hotels” near:york will find tweets that are mentioning the key phrase “hotels” that have been sent by twitter users whose location is near York. You can even refine the command by adding the operator within:10mi which will add the parameter within 10 miles of the location specified.

Twitters people searches are fairly powerful but there are a few command operators that can be utilised to refine your searches, so as well as the more common @seotrafficlab (which will find tweets that reference a specific twitter handle for example you could use the command from: which will find tweets that have been sent from that person. Using the operator to: will find the tweets that have been sent to that person  and using the operator OR with either of these commands will find tweets from or to both people selected. For example:



to:seotrafficlab OR to:localbizgeeks

from:seotrafficlab OR from:localbizgeeks

Attitude searches use another little known or seldom used factor in twitter and that is the smiley, people often use smilies to portray positive and negative attitudes on Twitter as well as on other mediums of Social Media and with the following commands you can find relevant terms that have been enhanced by a positive or negative attitude. So for example this morning I did a search on Twitter Censorship 🙁 and Twitter Censorship 🙂 to try and get a feel for what is being said about the new Twitter Censorship Policy in a negative and positive aspect.

One final command that I want to mention is the question search operator that allows you to find tweets that are asking a question about a specific topic which can be really useful if you are looking to build a rapport with other tweeters in your specific niche or topic. The command can be made like this ecommerce ? which will find any tweets that have questions with the word ecommerce, not an exact science this one but it can still prove useful. I am sure that now you know the commands you can probably find better examples than mine on which to use them so I hope this has been of some help.

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