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How to use advanced Twitter search queries: Part 2

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We wager our solution is more effective than sending out these guys. (Image credit: NYPL Digital)

Since 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 didn’t cover in that writeup. Here are a few more of our favorite advanced Twitter search queries. And let us know if you have a question you don’t see answered here!

Specific phrase or term

Much like on Google, when you want to return results on an exact phrase- especially something that has a common word or popular slang expression in it that might return a lot of noise otherwise- be sure to put it in quotes.

“term1 term2” – search for tweets containing the phrase “term1 term2” (e.g. “aging hippies”)

This way you’ll only get back tweets talking specifically about aging hippies, with those words in that exact order. Without the quotes, you might get results about hippies aging wine or something else irrelevant to what you’re actually looking for.

Tweets containing links

This search filter comes in handy if you’re looking for people who are sharing articles they’ve found or are talking about a specific URL – say an article in the news, or a blog post you’ve recently put out that’s getting a lot of chatter. It’s also a great way to track link shares for a Twitter contest.

filter:links – search only for tweets containing links (e.g. CNN filter:links)

You can add this filter to any search terms to return only tweets that include those terms and a URL.

Tweets in a particular language

Let’s say you’ve run a free TweetReach report with your test query to see what kind of results you’re getting (something we absolutely recommend doing so you can tweak what you need to) and it’s returned a lot of tweets that aren’t in a language that you speak. Or let’s say you want information on a specific event or campaign, like Dia de los Muertos from those who speak Spanish. Use:

lang:NN – to search for only tweets in a particular language (e.g. Nutella lang:en for only English tweets about Nutella)


“dia de los muertes” lang:es – Find tweets in spanish about “dia de los muertes”

When added to a search query, the language filter will narrow your results to tweets in that language. Not all languages are supported on Twitter, so check this list to see which are and to get more information about languages on Twitter in general.

And more…

These are just a few we didn’t go over in the first post, so here’s the full list of advanced Twitter search operators if you’re interested in more. And we’ll repeat our advice from last time– 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.

Again, 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.

Written by Sarah

July 30th, 2013 at 8:54 am

Why you should use lists on Twitter

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A Twitter Quick Tip. 

Setting up Twitter lists can seem like an imposing task, but they’re a great tool to organize a range of things: resources for your industry, thought leaders to learn from, customers to keep track of, industry verticals, comedians for when you need a break– whatever you can dream up.

If you’re just getting started, you might want to check out other users’s public lists. You can subscribe to these (and they’ll show up at the bottom of your lists so other people will know which lists you’re subscribed to) and get an idea of what works for you on a list and what doesn’t. Best of all? You don’t have to be following someone to put them in a list. A lot of thought leaders, for example, would be people who tweet at high volumes and could flood your feed. Keep them to a list and you can learn from them in a way that isn’t overwhelming, then follow the ones who provide the most value to you. (It’s also a great way to keep track of competitors; and yes, you can make a list private, which you might want to do with that one.)

Twitter's Twitter Lists


Twitter’s Twitter Lists: it’s getting a little meta in here. 

How do you use Twitter lists?

Written by Sarah

July 23rd, 2013 at 9:44 am

Posted in Guides

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Brands: why you should favorite tweets

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A Twitter Quick Tip. 

Favoriting tweets doesn’t just have to be something you do on your personal account when you see something funny or interesting that you want to check out later. From a brand account, favoriting can be a good way to say thank you to customers who say nice things to you.

Instead of retweeting a compliment (which can be seen as self-promotional, particularly if you get a lot of compliments and retweet them all) take a moment to thank  the person who complimented you, and favorite the tweet. It’s a nice, meaningful gesture to the customer that lets them know there’s a person behind the account who’s touched they took the time out of their day to reach out and say something nice.

Faved Tweet Example

We’re only bragging as an example. 

Bonus? Favorited tweets are public, so anyone can go to your profile and see what you’ve favorited. It gives a pretty good impression of what you’re all about, and in this case a page with compliments in it might persuade an undecided potential customer that they should try you out.

Written by Sarah

July 9th, 2013 at 11:32 am

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Tracking and planning a Twitter contest using TweetReach

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Twitter contests can be a great way to engage with fans and followers of your brand, and hopefully also attract new ones. You won’t know how successful you were, however, unless you take some steps to set things up before you kick things off. (If that’s not you and you’re here hoping for a way to capture data for a contest that has already ended more than a week ago, see the note at the bottom.)

Plan how you’re going to capture your data.

You don’t want to be scrambling to collect data after your contest has ended. You don’t need to set up a TweetReach Pro account with a Tracker if that’s out of your budget. Do keep in mind that free snapshot reports only collect a maximum of 50 tweets from the past few days of when you run it; if you try to run one on a contest a week after it has ended, you aren’t going to get the data you’re after. The $20 full report will bring back up to 1500 tweets and goes back up to a week.

If you know this ahead of time, you can plan to grab snapshots of your contest hashtag at regular intervals so you don’t miss any data. (You might still want to skim the next section for contest planning tips.)

Already have a Pro account or going to get one? Then all of your work can be done ahead of time, and the Tracker for your contest will collect all the data you ask it to (within its limits, of course) until you turn it off and analyze it. We’ve got tips and examples below.

Plan what you’re going to track.

Of course you have an official contest hashtag or two that you’ll be tracking, but make sure you plan for any misspellings or misinterpretations of your hashtag people could use while they participate. You’ll also want to track just the words of your main hashtag, in case someone leaves off the “#” sign accidentally.

For example, a Canadian police department recently ran a Twitter contest called 8 Days of SWAG (Students Working Against Gangs) and used a TweetReach Tracker to track all of the following:




in addition to the phrase ‘swag8days’

This let them capture the maximum number of people participating in the contest, which was incidentally also a way to raise awareness of issues associated with gangs that teens in the area high schools might have to deal with. The contest was open only to teens from those area high schools, helping ensure their target audience was more effectively reached. Prizes leading up to an iPad mini were given away, to incentivize teens to participate.

The top hashtag results indicate that teens were both listening and participating:

When you’re planning your Twitter contest, think about who your target audience is and what kind of prizes they might be most interested in. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something fancy and expensive to get people involved, if you’re able to reach those who would be most interested in what you have to offer as a brand of entity in the first place.

Also, try to keep your hashtag as short as possible while still being relevant. A really long hashtag like #StudentsWorkingAgainstGangs leaves a lot less space for participants to tweet in. Depending on the nature of your contest- do they have to answer a question, or just tweet the hashtag to enter?- it could affect participation.

It’s best to keep the contest as simple as possible with Twitter’s concise character limit, and point participants to details at your website (you don’t have to build one specifically for the contest, but you should at least have a place on your site or blog that announces it in order to help people find out about it, promote it, and participate correctly). The Tracker will also show you the top URLs that were linked in tweets containing the hashtags and phrases that you’re tracking:

In this case, it paid off for the police department to have a website dedicated exclusively to the contest, as versions of it were the first two most shared URLs, followed by news stories about the contest and the police department’s attempt to raise awareness around key gang-related issues.

Finally, pay attention to the Top Contributors column in your Tracker– these people either participated the most or gave you the biggest boost in exposure. Keep in touch with them in the future, and if you have the means, consider rewarding them as well. It could be as simple as a handwritten thank you note with a little something else that makes sense: a coupon code for a discount, a piece of functional company swag. Think about what you would like to receive.

One Last Note.

Did you find us after your contest already ran? Our historical analytics can capture everything for you. Pricing is based on the volume of tweets and the time period your contest ran, and starts at $49 for a limited time. Talk to us at the link above to get a quote.

The end. 

Did we miss anything? Leave your questions in the comments, or catch us on Twitter or Facebook.

Written by Sarah

July 3rd, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Posted in Guides

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Using Twitter Trending Topics to your advantage

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The trends feature isn’t anything new on Twitter, but it has an application secondary to just keeping up with trends in your area:

Twitter trends


Where else do you market? Most of us today are working in a global market, so it could pay off to pay attention to what is trending in different areas of the world that you’re active in. It could save you from a faux pas of posting something disruptive and commercial during a local crisis, or help you come up with content you can relate to timely news or pop culture items happening in an area. Anything that helps you learn about your customers and relate to them is a good thing.

Do you already do this? How has it worked out for you? If you try it out, let us know how it goes, in the comments or find us on Twitter. (Or Facebook, if you prefer.)

Written by Sarah

June 25th, 2013 at 10:36 am

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Twitter Tip: Personalize

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Twitter is always experimenting with new features that might not be available to everyone yet, but this one in particular started almost a year ago so you might want to check and see if you can test it out:

Twitter Personalization


Under “Settings” you can check a box to have Twitter tailor suggestions for you- accounts to follow, for example- based on the websites you visit. So if you’re big into visiting beauty sites, it might suggest brands, makeup artists or beauty magazines that other Twitter users like you follow. If you check out a lot of marketing blogs, it will recommend people in that industry. It’s a great tool for account discovery– which ideally leads to connection, collaboration and learning with and from these other accounts.

If you want to learn more about this feature, you can check out this blog post from Twitter talking about it and a few other experiments they rolled out last year.

Written by Sarah

June 18th, 2013 at 10:41 am

Twitter Tip: Discover

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Whether you’re relatively new to Twitter or a longtime power user, you might want to take a little time out to take advantage of some of Twitter’s less obvious features.  One of these is their #Discover tab, which has grown a lot since its introduction:

Twitter #Discover

All the little subcategories under Discover can help you do just that in various ways.

Tweets: these tweets are from people in your timeline, plus tweets from the people they follow. Twitter designed this to show you tweets that are “a collection of topics that people like you are talking about”, making it a great place to discover others interested in the same topics as you, and quicker than scrolling through the list of who someone is following.

Activity: shows you how the people you’re following use Twitter– who they’ve just started following, what they’ve favorited and more of their engagement. It’s another great way to discover new people to follow and new content.

Who to follow: pretty straightforward, this is a list Twitter has put together of suggested accounts for you to follow, based on those you’re already following. So check back periodically to see what new suggestions they have, based on your updated follow roster.

Find friends: lets you connect with people in your address book if you choose to import it.

Popular accounts: will show you which accounts are the most popular under different topic categories, like news, business, Twitter itself, technology, and more. Use it not only to find new accounts to follow, but also to research their tweeting style. You might pick up some tips and tricks for your own content that way.

Want more info on this tab? Check out Twitter’s help page on it. 

Written by Sarah

June 13th, 2013 at 10:11 am

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3 ways to increase your share of voice on Twitter

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We’ve talked before about how to measure your share of voice on Twitter. Naturally the next question is now, how do I increase my share of voice?

No megaphone necessary

1. We’ll start with the obvious: tweet more. This will be tied to whatever your goals are that you established in your measurement phase (and goals can and even should shift over time as you keep measuring your results), but it’s hard to be a bigger part of the conversation- or the leader of it- if you’re not talking much. Join in the conversation more, but don’t constantly talk about yourself: you want a mix of your own promotional content along with anything helpful or interesting that’s related to your industry. A good test is this– would you want to read the content that you’re sharing? Do you think it’s interesting and/or informative? Aim for about a 20/80 mix of your own content vs that of others.

2. That said, also make sure you talk to others: your customers, fans and potential customers. People remember brands that they’ve had a positive interaction with, and they’re more likely to come and buy from you down the line. The first step is definitely great customer service- be prompt and attentive when customers have questions and problems- but also respond to other kinds of conversations. Is someone tweeting about an article from your company blog? Thank them. Is there an industry tweet chat happening? Join in and share your thoughts, opinions and expertise; respond to those of others. Be thoughtful and engaging wherever a relevant conversation is happening.

3. Don’t just stick to Twitter. Increasing your presence elsewhere can lead more conversation back to Twitter. As you measured your share of voice on Twitter, look at your share of voice everywhere else too: what other platforms are you on? How often are you publishing content on your blog, or writing guest articles or blog posts? If you are doing these things, be sure you’re promoting them on Twitter. Be sure your blog has a prominent Twitter button on it, and that you have a link to your Twitter account (or at the very least mention that you have one) on other platforms. Put it in your email signature, and on your business card. Nobody- especially current and potential customers- should have to do the work to find you. Make finding you easy, and the conversation will increase.

Do you have any tips for successfully increasing your share of voice? Share them in the comments– or tell us on Twitter. (Or Facebook. Or our Union Metrics Tumblr.)

Image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery

Written by Sarah

June 3rd, 2013 at 9:31 am

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How to take advantage of TweetReach historical analytics

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Unfortunately, our historical analytics don’t go back quite THIS far

If you’re in charge of planning a big Twitter campaign, you want to arm yourself with as much information as possible. Our premium historical analytics can help you see where holes have been in past campaigns, what worked, what you might want to test out this time around, and a lot more. From planning out a campaign to filling in your knowledge when something unexpected happens, our historical analytics have you covered.

What exactly are historical analytics?

With the ability to reach all the way back to the first public tweet posted in March 2006 – we have access to the full archive of historical Twitter data from Gnip – we can search anything and everything you can think of. This goes beyond the scope of basic Twitter search and anything that can be pulled with Twitter’s public API; the information you can get from those sources is limited to about a week back. But the historical archive includes the full archive from Twitter itself, and you cannot get that just anywhere.

The possibilities for using our historical analytics are as varied as the content on Twitter itself, and if you’ve ever used our Pro Trackers the analysis is similar: you get reach, exposure, volume, tweet and contributor metrics. Better still, it’s delivered in the same format as our Trackers, so you don’t have to learn to navigate something new (unless you’re entirely new to TweetReach, in which case welcome, and we’re here to help you!).

What can I use historical analytics for?

Here are just a few ideas of what you can use our historical analytics for:

  • Research: Know how the public reacted to a particular event as it unfolded. See how a news story evolved; pinpoint who broke it, who influenced it at different points, and when other major players joined in, or didn’t. This applies to business as well as news research: look at those same things, but with a campaign instead of a news story. Gauge public reception to a certain business sector, or a new business specifically. Don’t take the word of articles telling you how the public is reacting- see it for yourself, in their own words.

  • Fill in the gaps: Did you sign up for a Pro suscription after you launched a campaign, and missed some data? Now you can fill it in.

  • Competitor analysis: See how your competitor’s past campaigns stack up to yours. Measure your share of voice (we’ve got a detailed four steps to doing just that here) and plan for how to improve it. Are you leading the conversation, or is your competitor? Is nobody leading the conversation, and you have a chance to step in and do so? Have the information to definitively show your boss where you stand, and how you plan to improve that standing. Take the guesswork out of it.

  • Year-by-year comparison: If you joined your company recently, historical analytics are a great way to see what results past campaigns have brought in. It can also help you fill in past metrics if you’ve just gotten a budget for analytics. Historical analytics give you an ideal way to measure benchmarks: the only way you can truly understand the performance of present and future campaigns is by knowing where you have been. This way you can establish KPIs for your social program.

  • Industry standards: Historical can be used for competitor analysis- compare campaigns from several different players in an industry, to see how each one’s strategy stands up- and for competitor research– an extension of the earlier research point, and related to share of voice. Use the information you get from historical analytics to pitch potential clients, showing them that you have consistently run campaigns that will increase their share of voice, and that you’ve outperformed other, similar campaigns run by competitors. This can also give them a reason to hire you, if they haven’t taken on an agency before. Prove to them that they can do better with you than without you.

  • Crisis communications: Sometimes things happen that are impossible to plan for, and therefore you weren’t already tracking them. Historical gives you the opportunity to go back to fully understand the conversation as it unfolded and act accordingly. It’s great to know that, even if something unexpected happens, we can still access the data to make the best decisions about how to move forward in a crisis.

Got something you want to use historical analytics for? Great! There’s more here about the specifics of how it works and you can also request a quote. Historical analytics start at $49. Pricing is based on report duration and tweet volume.

Image courtesy NYPL Digital Gallery

Written by Sarah

May 28th, 2013 at 10:57 am

Tracking Instagram, Vine and more with TweetReach

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TweetReach Quick Tip: Did you know you can track anything on Twitter? Even though Instagram has revoked its display cards (effectively removing in-Twitter viewing only), the hashtags and other keywords still show up, so you can effectively track an Instagram campaign that’s cross-posted to Twitter. Same goes for Vine posts, and anything else. You just need a hashtag, URL or keyword to find those posts on Twitter. Simply enter the hashtag or keyword into our search box, and you can find any tweets that include it, even if they originated on Instagram or Vine– or anywhere else.

Want more on using hashtags? Twitter has a best practices post on their Development Blog.

A SXSW 2013 shot from our Union Metrics Instagram account

Written by Sarah

May 9th, 2013 at 7:54 am

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