How to use Twitter search to find out what you really need to know

By Rob McNair

Listening to what you audience has to say about you or your product is extremely important in any social media strategy. Therefore, scanning the social web is a must. One way of getting the results you want is by using Twitter search. However, in order to avoid getting bombarded with a lot of spam, retweets, completely irrelevant tweets and messages in other languages you need to know some basic tricks. Much like Google, there are ways to narrow down your search results which will allow you to get the information you really want.

Plain text queries can help you discover lots of valuable information. But, there are ways to dig deeper and uncover sometimes surprising results. We’d like to show you some tips and tricks that will not only help you use Twitter search effectively but also help you find out what your audience is talking about right now.

Twitter search basics


The picture above shows what the basic Twitter search interface looks like. Super simple. Simple search times, like the examples below, will already paint a bigger picture.

1. Searching for multiple words in a Tweet

If you don’t mind the order the words are in and just want to discover all the Tweets that contain certain words, this kind of search is for you.

E.g. Romance novel – As a result you will see all the Tweets that either contain “romance” or “novel” or “romance novel” or even both the words in a tweet but not in direct connection. 



2. Searching for specific terms only

Placing quotation marks around your search terms will allow you to search for exact phrases.

E.g. “romance novel” – This search will only return Tweets in which the words “romance novel” are being used in succession. 


3. Searching Tweets that do not contain certain words

If you are trying to get results that don’t contain certain words, do the following:

E.g. Game -over – This search will only return Tweets that contain the word “game” but not “over”.

4. Searching multiple keywords in one search

If you are looking to find Tweets that contain either keyword1 or keyword2 you can do so by adding the term “OR” to your search.

E.g. Starbucks OR McDonalds – Result: Tweets that either contain Starbucks or McDonalds



5. Searching Tweets from a certain person/company

To only see Tweets that were sent by a certain person or company do the following:

E.g. from:Swarovski – This search will only return Tweets that were sent by the Swarovski account.


6. Searching Tweets to a certain person/company

To only see Tweets that were sent solely to a certain person or company do the following:

E.g. to:Swarovski – This search will only return Tweets that were sent solely to the Swarovski account.


7. Searching Tweets referencing a certain person/company

To only return Tweets that contain a certain user do the following:

E.g. @Swarovski – This search will return Tweets that reference the Swarovski account.


As you can see, the results don’t only contain Tweets that are solely sent to @Swarovski but also Tweets that are sent to multiple users.

8. Searching Tweets containing certain keywords, links in a certain location

In order to see Tweets that contain a certain keyword, referencing a certain place and that contain a link do the following:

E.g. coffee in:London filter:links 


You can take this search query one step further by doing the following:

E.g. coffee near:London within:15mi filter:links – By doing this you will now receive all the Tweets that were sent from the London area (15 mile radius) 


9. Find all the people who are not talking about you directly

People don’t always reference your Twitter username in a Tweet. That, however, doesn’t mean that they aren’t talking about you.

In order to find out who is talking about you but doesn’t use your @username in their Tweet, do the following:

E.g. mycleveragency -to:mycleveragency -from:mycleveragency -@mycleveragency – I used MCA’s Twitter handle for this search query. The result looks like the following: 


If this search query is too confusing or you just want an easier option do get the same result, you can also find everyone who links to you via Backtweets.

Advanced Twitter search

As you can see, the basic Twitter search bar allows you to get some pretty awesome results if you know how to search. To make things easier, Twitter search also offers an advanced search option. Mashable created a nifty video that will show you how to use the advanced search option effectively and ultimately get the results you really want.

And now it’s your turn. Do you know of any nifty ways to search Twitter. Any tips and tricks that we might have missed but you feel get you even better results? Don’t be afraid to share them with everyone in the comment section. We are looking forward to reading your opinions as well as tips and tricks.

This post was written by Rob McNair

Rob has experience advising some of the worlds most iconic brands. He thrives on helping improving social media knowledge within organisations with the ultimate goal of making theirs brands more social, transparent and accountable.