Here’s something you may have suspected but didn’t know for sure: Twitter’s mentions folder is unreliable.
It misses replies. Loses them. Mentions disappear into the ether.
I know this because when I look for replies and mentions of my username using Twitter’s powerful search functionality it finds a lot, lot more, including retweets (organic and internal), something which the mentions folder misses all the time. Also, if you use Twitter to share content from your website or blog your mentions folder won’t pick that up at all – even if your domain is the same as your username.
For established and active users (especially brands) this can be really frustrating, and can make it difficult to gauge your impact on your network.
The good news? There’s an easy solution. And once again, Twitter search comes to the rescue.
Here’s how to make sure you don’t miss anything ever again.
- Go to Twitter.com (or open up your favourite Twitter client and start a new search query or pane)
- Type in your username preceded by the @ symbol. For example, @Sheamus
- Hit enter and peruse the results
Compare this with your mentions folder (in another pane or window). Notice any discrepancies? There are usually a few. But even if the results are identical right now the search never misses anything – ever – while I guarantee that the mentions folder will lose stuff on an annoyingly regular basis.
And we can make those search results better still.
- Close your current search query/pane and start a new one
- As one, long search query, enter: @username OR “real name” OR domain OR “brand name” OR “product name” OR “anything else you want track”
- Hit enter
For example: my search term might be
@sheamus OR “shea bennett” OR alltwitter
(Use quotes to contain search queries that are made up of more than one word – alltwitter is different to “all twitter”, and will return different results.)
We use the search operator OR in our query as this lets Twitter search across the network for any mention of each of these things, but they don’t all need to be in the exact same tweet. So, in my example Twitter will look for tweets that contain my username, my real name or alltwitter, but they don’t have to be found in the same tweet (although they could).
By adding my domain to the search query any links shared on Twitter that point to my website will also show up in the search results. But you know the absolute best part? Twitter is really smart. Smart enough to look inside shortened URLs such as bit.ly and ow.ly. That’s right – Twitter opens a shortened URL to check if your search term is within and then returns the results accordingly.
This is an unheralded (and generally unknown) piece of functionality with enormous value for brands and bloggers. People like to share and shorten URLs in their own ways, but I’ve yet to see a shortened URL that Twitter can’t peek inside. It’s fantastic. I can’t praise it enough.
Now you’ve set up your search, including your username, domain and any other results you want to look for, go back and compare it once more against your standard mentions folder. World of difference, right? And if there isn’t now, perhaps because you’re not yet established on the platform, there definitely will be as your profile rises.
Not convinced? Check out this screen capture which shows Twitter’s standard mentions for @alltwtr on the left, and a search for @alltwtr OR alltwitter on the right.
Everything the mentions folder returns on the left is picked up by the search on the right, plus all those extra goodies like retweets and shares. It doesn’t work the other way around. And believe me: this goes all the way down.
Tinker with the keywords until you get the results that you want. Once you’re happy, make sure you save this (either on Twitter.com or your client) and then Twitter will take care of the rest. Your search query is always there, always running, and always delivering the results that you expect, and your hard work demands.