Want to find the most relevant information possible on Twitter?
Then you need to use Twitter Advanced Search.
In this guide, I’ll break down everything about the social channel’s advanced feature and how you can use it to improve your business.
What You’ll Learn:
- How Twitter Advanced Search differs from regular search
- The functions available on Advanced Search
- How to filter by people, locations, and dates
- How to fine-tune your results
- Techniques for using Advanced Search
As a social media platform, Twitter has seen plenty of use by journalists, celebrities, and the general public alike.
But how exactly does someone go through millions of tweets to find what they’re looking for? Statista estimates that over 330 million people use Twitter monthly. To locate what you need to from this vast mountain of information, you may need to delve into Twitter’s Advanced Search function.
Twitter, realizing the power of information, has even made their advanced search available for non-registered users.
Because of how in-depth the search functions are, you can get results filtered by location, tag, or topic, depending on what you’re looking for.
It’s flexible and costs you nothing to perform a search other than the time it takes to sort through the results.
It’s one of the best-kept secrets of the internet and holds a ton of potential for marketers.
What’s the Difference Between Search and Advanced Search?
You’re likely already familiar with Twitter’s standard search.
It’s the little bar at the top of the app or site, and if you’ve ever had to look for a particular word, phrase, or hashtag, this is likely where you turned.
Though standard search does offer some options to filter and refine search results, it’s a bit like writing code. To cut through the clutter, you need to have some knowledge of the specific Twitter operators that will help you surface information relevant to your search.
Operators, essentially, are specific word and character patterns that align with certain results. For anyone unfamiliar, Lifehacker lists some great examples in this post.
Understandably, most of us don’t have the time to memorize multiple operators. That’s where Twitter’s Advanced Search comes in.
Advanced search breaks down your search to its key elements and filters out any irrelevant or unrelated results. return only the information relevant for and filters them immediately. In essence, it’s a query generator for the standard search bar. It does all the heavy lifting by producing the “search code” for you.
Breaking Down the Advanced Search Functionality
Twitter Advanced Search opens the door to all the tweets that any user has ever posted on Twitter.
You can find any user, hashtag, or phrase you’re looking for using the advanced filters.
To access it, type in a search as usual. After you’ve entered it, tap the three-dot icon in the top right, and tap Advanced Search. This will bring you to the Advanced Search menu.
When using this function, there are a few things to be aware of as you search. These include:
Beware of Top Tweets
Twitter’s algorithm is about finding relevance in a sea of possibly-related data.
When you first perform a search, it will throw the most relevant results that it finds. Its algorithm determines the most relevant results by checking through all related Tweets and seeing which ones have the most engagement.
Twitter’s algorithms believe that engagement equals quality. However, the “Top Tweets” it gives us might not be what you’re looking for at all. Along the top of the page is the option to switch to “Latest.” You likely want the most recent tweets about your subject, so select that instead.
Use Multiple Fields to Narrow Things Down
Internet Live Stats states that as of now, over eight thousand tweets are sent out every minute on Twitter.
With that much new data coming into the system, you have to be very specific when you’re looking to find something. Luckily, even the first set of parameters you’ll encounter will allow you to limit the search results.
It’s a far better option than having to pore over thousands of irrelevant results from the standard search bar. The basic search fields you’ll encounter at the top of the search form include:
- All of These Words: When you fill out the query field, the search action will look for tweets containing every single one of the search terms. If you want a phrase instead of a single word, you can place the statement in quotes (e.g., “hello world” will search for that phrase as opposed to every incidence of hello and world separately within the same tweet).
- This Exact Phrase: The words you put in here don’t need to be in quotes since the algorithm will deal with that for you. However, you’re limited to a single phrase at a time, so if you’re looking for multiple phrases, you’ll need to perform a few searches.
- Any of These Words: Here, you can enter any number of search words or phrases separated by a space. The phrases need to be enclosed by quotes as well. The form takes the phrases you put in and performs a search on its data set, inserting an OR operator in between each search term. The operator ensures that you get results based on any of your search terms.
- None of These Words: Many people skip over this field, but it can be an advantageous method to filter out unwanted results early on. If you have a generic keyword that you’re researching that is usually found alongside other words, you can get rid of the phrases you don’t want to show up in the results. For example, if you want to find out about tea, but want to avoid mentions of the tea party, then you can input “tea party” into this field to remove those results before you receive them.
- These Hashtags: Hashtags are useful for researching what’s trending. Initially, the hashtag system was designed to make it easy to categorize things, and searching for something under a hashtag heading is an effective way to pick up on public sentiment.
- Written In: This field helps to specify a language. If you’re looking for tweets that come in any language, you can filter results only to give you the ones that are in the language you choose. There are over four dozen languages that you can filter by, demonstrating exactly how widespread the application has become around the globe.
People, Locations and Dates
The real power of the advanced search function is that it allows you to break results down by people, location, and even date ranges.
These fields are located right below the basic search fields:
- From, To and Mentioning Accounts: These are three fields that you can input a username without the traditional @ sign. You can enter multiple account names, and depending on the field, Twitter will locate and return all the relevant tweets.
- Near This Place: Before this particular field will work, you’ll need to turn on your location in your Twitter account. You can search for any address, city, village, or even geocode, and Twitter will return all the tweets within a fifteen-mile radius of that point. You can edit the radius through operators in the search bar field since advanced search doesn’t offer you that luxury.
- Engagement: If you only want to see Tweets that have received a certain amount of engagement, you can filter by minimum replies, likes, and Retweets.
- From This Date…To: These two fields can help you to get the tweets you’re looking for within a range of dates. If you know you saw a tweet and remember some details about keywords or usernames, this field will narrow down the search even further by giving you all the tweets within the two dates.
Fine-Tuning Your Results
The final section allows further fine-tuning of your results based on why you’re doing the twitter search in the first place.
- Questions: If you’re engaging in this Twitter search for customer service, then questions are important. You can use this box to select whether you want questions to show up primarily in the results.
- Positive or Negative: These are sentiments that users utilize through their time on Twitter. If you’re trying to figure out user sentiment to a particular brand or product, then this might be a decent method of gauging a ballpark figure about it.
- Include Retweets: If a retweet is different from the original content, then this box will allow it to show up as a result, even though it doesn’t contain any of the original terms from the tweet.
Techniques for Using Advanced Search
How you use advanced search will differ based on the information you’re trying to find, but there are several neat techniques that you can use to help you get the most out of Twitter’s advanced search system:
Create a Saved Search
Saved searches are useful because they save you time and effort.
If you develop a complex query that helps you keep track of comments and shares, then saving that search to use it again later down the line is an ideal solution.
Similarly, if you managed to get the geocode for your city and want to know about tweets within the area that mention your Twitter handle, saving that tweet will save you from having to go through the steps all over again.
To save a search, you will need to log into Twitter. Once you’ve typed a search you want to save, tap the three-dot icon, and tap Save.
To access later, just tap the search box, and Twitter will display your saved searches in a dropdown.
Twitter allows you to save up to 25 searches on your account.
Find the Most Popular Tweets About a Subject
Finding out what’s trending on Twitter allows you to create marketing around popular hashtags and causes.
Top Tweets, as previously stated, is a measure of the popularity of a particular tweet. However, if you’re looking at a specific topic, you can enter the search term in the standard search bar and use the operator min_retweets:[value] or min_faves:[value] to get the most popular and engaging content manually.
The results you get from this type of searching can be a bit more reliable than those thrown at you by Twitter’s algorithm.
People tend to use Twitter to say what’s on their minds.
For marketing, this makes it an ideal medium for gaining insight into what the average consumer is thinking or feeling about a particular brand or industry. It can also point you in the direction of people who are looking for what your business is offering.
We call this social listening, and by employing social listening through search terms, you can find what people are looking for advice or information on.
Terms including “can someone recommend” or “advice about” can be indications to offer products or services that the purchaser would be looking for, and can be more authentic than using a bot to throw advertising at people and hope it sticks.
Social media is an ideal medium for brands to connect with customers and helps them retain a brand identity while growing an engaged community.
Smaller businesses are far more believable when they talk directly to customers. Twitter especially has a lot of tools to help smaller companies make their voices known and pinpoint customers that may need their help.
The advanced search function is one of the best demonstrations of a tool built with this goal in mind. It simplifies complex queries into something that any business owner can use to get insights that will help their company grow.