Have you used Twitter search? I mean really used it? If not, you’d be surprised at the kinds of insights you can get into what people are talking about right now.
Twitter’s advanced search lets you go beyond just seeing who’s talking about “Starbucks lattes”, and discover who wishes they had one right now, who thinks they’re too expensive, and who’s following the Starbucks account for a discount coupon. And we’ve got five key search operators to help you do just that.
To start digging into the never-ending stream of data that Twitter has to offer, start by familiarizing yourself with Twitter’s advanced search page.
You can use the simple search form on Twitter.com to do a rudimentary search, but the advanced search is where all the juicy information hides. Here are five operators you can use in your search to really get at the heart of what people are saying about your product, your company, or your competitors.
Using happy and sad faces
Sentiment analysis is all the rage in social these days. Moving beyond just seeing who is talking about a new smartphone to figuring out who’s loving theirs and who’s bringing it back because it’s not working is the holy grail of social media, and Twitter in particular.
If you want to see how people like their new iPhones, all you’ve got to do is perform a search for the term “iPhone” and add a “:)” to it, like this “iPhone :)”. Alternatively, to see who’s complaining about their app-filled devices just search for “iPhone :(“. It’s not an exact science, but you’ll be able to compare positive and negative sentiment towards any search you do using this method.
Using the “to:” and “from:” operators
If you’re interested in the conversation happening around specific Twitter accounts, you can zero-in using “to:” and “from:” operators. For instance, if you’re searching for tweets that President Obama has sent about the federal debt, you can enter the following search term: “debt from:BarackObama”. Or, if you want to see who’s talking to Mashable about Facebook pages, try searching for “Facebook page to:Mashable”.
Using the minus sign
Often times, there are simply too many search results when you look for generic terms like “social media”. And that’s where the minus sign comes in. Simply put this sign in front of any words that you don’t want to see show up in your search. So, for example, if you’re searching for social media but you don’t want anything related to LinkedIn, You’d search for “social media -LinkedIn”.
This operator also works for phrases that you want to exclude, as long as those phrases appear directly following the minus sign and are surrounded by quotation marks.
Using a question mark
You can use Twitter’s advanced search to find out what people are asking about any topic under the sun. Using a question mark following a search query, such as “Twitter ?”, will show you all of the questions that people are asking about Twitter.
This is especially great for brands using Twitter for customer service. You can perform a quick search for your brand name and include a question mark, and you’ll discover all of your customers who are asking a question about your company.
Using the “filter:” operator
And lastly, you can filter out (or in), tweets that contain links by using the “filter:” operator. If you want to see all the links that people are sharing on Twitter about infographics, just search for “infographic filter:links”. This will pull up all the most recent tweets that people sent about infographics that point to an external URL. If you want to go the other route, simply put the minus sign in front of “links” like this: “infographic filter:-links”.
(Magnifying glass image via Shutterstock)