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How to use advanced Twitter search queries

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Twitter supports a number of advanced search operators and filters that allow you to customize your search query and find exactly the tweets you’re looking for. Here are a few of our favorite Twitter search operators and how to use them (with tons of examples).

Find one keyword OR another

First, Twitter does not require an AND or + operator to search for multiple keywords. So don’t include them. Just type together multiple keywords into your query and Twitter will return tweets that include of those terms. For example:

social media metrics

However, sometimes you might want to find tweets that include one keyword or another keyword. Use the OR operator to separate those terms and your report will include tweets that mention one or the other.

metrics OR analytics

You can also chain together multiple keywords to create a more complex query. The OR operator will attach to the word that immediately precedes it, very much like order of operations in algebra. For example, the following query will find tweets that mention social media metrics or social media analytics, because the OR links to the metrics and analytics terms.

social media metrics OR analytics

@Username queries

There are several ways to learn more about the reach of tweets from a particular Twitter account, depending on the type of information you’re looking for.

  1. Tweets to, from and about an account - tweetreachapp
    Run a report for a username but do not include the @symbol.  This will return all mentions of that Twitter account (including retweets and replies), as well as all tweets from that Twitter account. This is the most comprehensive set of reach stats for a specific Twitter account.
  2. Tweets to and about an account – @tweetreachapp
    Run a report for a username and include the @symbol. This will return all mentions of an account, but not any tweets from that account. This report will let you know how many people are talking about a certain Twitter account, and the ways they’re talking about it (including all retweets, replies, and mentions).
  3. Tweets to an account – to:tweetreachapp
    Run a report using the to: operator and a username. Do not use the @ symbol. This report will return only direct replies to that account (where the username is the first word in the tweet). This reports is useful for learning more about how people talk to that account.
  4. Tweets from an account – from:tweetreachapp
    Run a report using the from: operator and a username. Do not use the @ symbol. This report will return only tweets from that account. This reports is useful for measuring the reach of an individual Twitter account, and for learning more about the kinds of tweets that account is posting.

Date filters

You can filter your search results to a particular time period by adding the since: and until: operators to your search query. Use these date filters to narrow down your results. And since you can access up to 1500 tweets per query, if you run a report for each day of a campaign using date filters, you can find more total tweets. For example:

social media since:2011-09-24

@mashable until:2011-09-26

You can use one or both filters in a query. These dates correspond to around 12:00 a.m. UTC, so since filter dates will include tweets from that date, but until filter dates will include tweets up until that date. And no matter what, snapshot reports can only go back about a week, so you still can’t use these filters to access tweets older than a week.

Exclusions

You can exclude certain keywords from your search by adding a minus sign (-) before the keyword. This will filter out all tweets that include that keyword. This is particularly useful if your company/brand/client/product has has a common name and want to exclude mentions of others with that name.

hilton -paris

And more…

These are some of our favorite filters and operators, but here’s the full list of advanced search operators if you’re interested in more. One word of advice – Twitter handles fairly simple queries really well, but tends to break with longer and more complex queries. We recommend that you only add in a few advanced operators per query and try to limit the total number of keywords and characters in a search query. Keep it under 5-8 words and 60 characters and you should be fine. And definitely run free TweetReach reports to test out your more complex queries and see what kinds of tweets they find.

If you ever have any questions about search queries and how to get exactly the data you need from Twitter, just ask us! We’re big Twitter search nerds and can help you figure out even the trickiest search queries.

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Written by Jenn D

April 19th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Posted in Guides,Help

Tagged with , ,

3 Responses to 'How to use advanced Twitter search queries'

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  1. [...] are experts at constructing search queries so we can get the most and best possible data from [...]

  2. [...] And, of course, you can get fancy and combine the above into various Twitter searches (my favorite reference on that front is this TweetReach blog post). [...]

  3. [...] our first post on How to use advanced Twitter search queries is one of our most popular posts, we thought we’d break down some more advanced queries we [...]

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