Ever lost something like your car keys?
First thing you do is begin to think back to when you last saw them… retrace your steps in your mind, right?
So that you can narrow your search to those places most likely to yield results. In this case, a missing set of keys.
Instead of running around your neighbor’s yard where you know they can’t possibly be, you’re looking around the kitchen and in jacket pockets where the likelihood is much higher that you’ll find what you’re looking for.
One evening in 2019, I took my daughter to her hip hop dance lessons and then, as we always do, her and I had dinner afterwards. She wanted ribs, God love her, so we had ribs with all the fix’ns.
My credit card was gone.
After looking through my wallet three times like I was on a late-night snack run standing in front of the open refrigerator, I really started to panic. I texted my wife to see if she’d borrowed it for some reason but of course she hadn’t. And so I immediately began to think back to when I’d used the card last… yesterday morning to buy breakfast? Yes. Lunch? No, the wife paid for that. And nothing after then, so I couldn’t understand where the card was. Fortunately I happened to have some cash leftover from a recent business trip – I never carry cash – so the bill got paid. But the search was on.
We’re all used to searching online by now. Google.com or the Google app or a Voice Assistant device at home are all integrated into our lives. We want to know the answer to something, so we “Google” it.
When we want to find something on Twitter, search works the same way. Most of us have searched for other people on Twitter, or punched in a hashtag to see what tweets come up.
But there’s so much more that you can do, if you know how.
Twitter has built into its search capability a series of Operators and Filters so that you can craft powerful and refined searches that deliver exactly the results and information you’re looking for. Just like retracing your steps in your mind to when you last saw your keys, your Twitter searches can be similarly limited to only give you the relevant field of results.
Operators are Boolean logic parameters that tell Twitter how to read and treat the keywords you enter. You have already used at least one Boolean operator without knowing it!
Filters are ways in which Twitter can limit the results to include or not include certain kinds of tweets.
By default, if you start a Twitter search using two or more words, you’re using the AND operator. You typed in election results and will get all recent tweets that contain the words “election” and “results.” Learning how to use key operators will give you even more control.
Suppose you only want to see tweets that actually talk about election results, and not just happen to have both those words in the tweet. You can use quotes around the phrase in your search, like “election results” – and this will only return tweets with both those words (the exact phrase) as you typed them. This is referred to as an exact match search.
Now, let’s suppose you wanted to see tweets with “election results” but nothing about Senate races. You can add the operator minus and a word and all tweets that contain that word will be removed from the results. In this example, you would search for “election results” -Senate and will have further narrowed your search!
Two filters you’ve likely already used are the hashtag (#) and at sign (@) which precede hashtagged keywords and Twitter usernames, respectively.
Three additional filters you might find interesting are ways that you can see search results by specific Twitter users. You can use the from: filter to see tweets only sent from a specific username. The list: filter allowed you to put in a Twitter list and thus filter your search results to only tweets sent from that list. And the to: filter will only show you tweets in reply to that profile.
Suppose you wanted to learn how often a particular competitor talks about a topic in your industry. You could do a Twitter search for the topic using one or more words, and apply the filter of from:[username] and see only their tweets on the subject matter.
Twitter has also provided a number of ways to filter your search results by kinds of tweets.
- You can add filter:safe to remove tweets that are potentially sensitive.
- You can add filter:media to only see tweets with an image or video.
- You can add -filter:retweets to remove retweets from the results.
- You can add filter:native_video to only see Periscope, uploaded videos or Vines.
- You can add filter:periscope to only see Periscope videos.
- You can add filter:vine to only see Vines.
- You can add filter:images to only see tweets with images.
- You can add filter:links to only see search results which contain links.
You can even use url:amazon to only see tweets with links that include “amazon” anywhere in the URL… of course replacing “amazon” with whatever word or domain you’d like.
Want to filter your results so that you only see recent tweets, or older tweets? You can use the since: or until: filters, like since:2020-01-01 to only see tweets sent since January 1, 2020.
You can add a question mark (?) to only see tweets that ask a question and here’s one of the really fun filters… add a smiley face or a sad face to only see tweets that have a positive or negative attitude.
If you’re looking for Netflix recommendations but want happy movies, not scary ones, search for:
Netflix recommendation -scary 🙂
You can fine-tune your search by limiting the results to certain location (area) only – for this, enter the location coordinates (latitude and longitude; you can easily find out these on Google Maps) and add a radius around specified location which will be covered by this search.
For example, you can enter following geo coordinates: 48.865084, 2.357764 and radius of 20.
If you want, you can pre-fill the coordinates with your current location – this can be useful when you actually are on the location of your business and want to use it for the search.
Finally, by their very nature, result tweets using words that you entered will mostly be in the same language of that word – a search for tweets with “Hello” will likely yield tweets in English whereas a search for “Ciao” would be mostly populated with Italian. If, however, you need to only see tweets in a particular language, you can use the lang: filter and simply add your preferred linguistic two-letter code, such as lang:it for Italian!
After I pad for dinner using the cash I happened to have, Cadence and I got into our car to return home. It was at that moment that she admitted to me that she’d taken my credit card out of my wallet as a joke. She was only eight at the time so certainly believed her, and was more relieved than anything to learn my card wasn’t lost. In this case, no amount of search parameters or filters would have found that card. 😉
I hope though that I’ve given you some ideas on how you might better leverage Twitter and, specifically, Twitter searches. It’s worth noting that if you’re using Agorapulse, you can save any search you want for Twitter as a saved search for ongoing Listening. Imagine crafting the perfect search that surfaces critical customer conversations within your targeted geographic area. You can save that search in Agorapulse and just check your Inbox for new tweets! What a goldmine of business opportunities.