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Confused about Twitter search? You’re not alone.

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There’s one question our support team gets asked more often than anything else – how far back can TweetReach reports go? And it’s no wonder we get this question all the time; it can be pretty damn confusing. How long are tweets available? Why aren’t they available for a week or more? Why does this seem to change from one day to the next?

First, a bit about how TweetReach reports work. Our snapshot reports – both the 50-tweet free report and the full $20 report – are generated from Twitter’s Search API. You type in a search query, which can consist of one or more hashtags, keywords, usernames, URLs, and so on, and then we run that search through Twitter’s Search API to find all matching tweets. So our snapshot reports are dependent upon the tweets accessible through Twitter’s Search API.

It probably goes without saying that Twitter handles a lot of data. A lot. Twitter currently processes around 200 million new tweets a day, resulting in more than 350 billion tweet deliveries every single day. By our (very rough) estimation, there have been something like 1.75 trillion unique tweets posted in the past 2.5 years. Without getting too technical, let’s just say that it’s pretty hard to keep a service of this magnitude running. Because of this scale, Twitter can’t possibly keep trillions of historical tweets accessible to anyone at any time. Which is why when you go to Twitter Search or run a TweetReach report, you’re probably only going to find a few days worth of tweets. It’s just too hard to keep any more reliably and consistently available.

One of the things we love about Twitter – or at least that we have long since learned to live with – is that it can be a bit unpredictable. It’s a huge application with hundreds of millions of accounts; there will be occasional fail whales and things are probably going to change from one day to the next. One thing we know for sure is that it will continue to get harder and harder for Twitter to make older tweets available through search. The good news is that we’ve been doing this for a long time and have a number of ways to deal with these inevitable changes.

This brings us back to the most frequently asked of our FAQs – how far back can a TweetReach report go? The simplest answer is that our one-time snapshot reports – both the free and the full $20 versions – go back as far as Twitter’s Search API does. And right now, the Twitter Search API goes back a few days (the exact number varies, so check here for current conditions). The more in-depth answer is that, if we know about your event, campaign, or promotion in advance, we can use our TweetReach Pro service to track and save your tweets for weeks, months or even years. TweetReach Pro comes with Trackers, which connect to Twitter’s real-time Streaming API instead of their historical Search API. This means we can actually save your tweets on our own servers the moment they’re posted to Twitter, and then you can access them later because we’re not dependent on Twitter keeping those tweets available.

So, if you’re confused about your search results or curious about what tweets you can retroactively access, let us help you. Seriously, we’re here if you have any questions – just ask!

Photo credit: Search. by Jeffrey Beall

Written by Jenn D

July 26th, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Posted in Guides,Help

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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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Interested in learning more about TweetReach? Take a look at our website or contact our sales team for more.

Written by Jenn D

April 19th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Posted in Guides,Help

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Setting up a TweetReach Tracker

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If you’re new to TweetReach Pro, check out this short video about how to get your first Tracker set up. And there’s more information about setting up a Tracker on our helpdesk.

Written by Jenn D

April 11th, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Posted in Guides,Help

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TweetReach support hours from March 10-15

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Most of the TweetReach team will be attending the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas over the next few days. So please allow us a little extra time to return your calls and emails on the following dates:

Thursday, March 10 – Tuesday, March 15

On these days, our support staff will return all non-urgent requests within 24-36 hours and urgent requests as soon as possible. As always, there are several ways to get your questions answered:

And if you happen to be at SXSW this year, let’s meet up! Find us through our @tweetreachapp Twitter account or message Hayes or Jenn directly.

Written by Jenn D

March 10th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Help,News

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Should you run a TweetReach report or set up a Tracker?

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We currently offer two TweetReach reporting formats – the individual snapshot report and the Tracker. One of our most frequently asked questions is when it’s appropriate to run an individual report and when it’s best to set up a Tracker. Depending on the type of data you’re analyzing, one of these two formats will better serve your needs. To decide if you need to set up a Tracker or run a snapshot report, just answer three quick questions about the tweets you’re measuring.

1. When are/were the tweets posted?

a) Recently posted
b) Will be posted in the future

If you answered a, you should run a report now. Twitter only keeps tweets accessible for about a week, so if your tweets are older than that, we can’t retrieve them for analysis. Don’t lose them!

If you answered b, move on to question 2.

2. How many tweets do you expect?

a) Fewer than 1,500 tweets
b) More than 1,500 tweets

If you answered a, then you can run a snapshot report after your event has occurred. The snapshot report uses the Twitter Search API, which searches through the most recent seven days worth of tweets. So run that report after, but within one week of, the time period you wish to measure. If you need to measure more than a week’s worth of tweets, see question 3. A snapshot report can include up to 1,500 tweets. If you have 50 or fewer tweets, your report will be free. If it’s between 51 and 1,500 tweets, it’s $20.

If you answered b, you’ll need to set up a Tracker, which can track more than 1,500 tweets. Set up your Tracker before your event begins, or as soon as you can, so we capture as many tweets as possible. The Tracker uses Twitter’s Streaming API, so it captures tweets in real time, as they are posted to Twitter.

3. What is the time period for your analysis?

a) 0-7 days
b) A week or longer

If you answered a, you can run a snapshot report or a Tracker, depending on your answers to questions 1 & 2.

If you answered b, you need to set up a Tracker before your event begins, or as soon as you can. Trackers run in real time, so they will find all new tweets as they are posted to Twitter, but they cannot retrieve old tweets.

In sum: if you answered a to all three questions, run a snapshot report. If you answered b to all three questions, set up a Tracker. For other a/b combinations, check the chart below.

Screen_shot_2010-11-22_at_8.17.12_PM.png

*A few disclaimers about these particular combinations… Snapshot reports include up to 1,500 tweets from the past week, so if you have more than 1,500 tweets or data older than 7 days, we won’t be able to find all of your tweets for analysis. You can run an individual snapshot report anytime at tweetreach.com. Trackers monitor tweets in real time, so they will find all new tweets as they come in, with no limits on number of tweets or length of time. But Trackers cannot go back in time to include old tweets. You need a TweetReach Pro subscription to run a Tracker.

Written by admin

January 3rd, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Posted in Guides,Help

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Find the tweets you want: How to search Twitter like a pro

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If you weren’t able to make our How to Search Twitter Like a Pro webinar today, the slides are below. We covered the basics of Twitter search, advanced search operators, messy or unreliable search operators, Twitter search limitations, and our tips for how to get the best results from your Twitter search.

Let us know if you have any questions or would like more information about the content.

Written by admin

November 11th, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Posted in Guides,Help

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Got Questions About TweetReach?

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We’ve created a set of help forums to explain how TweetReach works.

There are resources to help you get started with TweetReach, answers to some of our more frequently asked questions, in-depth explanations of TweetReach and the report components, and new feature announcements.

If you have other questions that aren’t answered in the help forums, just let us know! Leave a comment here or in the forums.

Written by Jenn D

April 2nd, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Posted in Help

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