Twitter can be a great way of investigating your market – and finding new leads for your business. Launched in 2006, Twitter now has more than 230 million users. And those users post about 500 million Tweets every day. That’s a lot of information.

In January 2014 Twitter announced that it is planning to add new ways of filtering your searches:

New Twitter searches

It will soon be possible to search for Tweets with relevant people, photos, videos and news; which will be really useful.

Yet, it’s already possible to search the site in a multitude of useful ways. So, in case you’ve been missing out, here’s a rundown of Twitter’s advanced search operators.

Start with questions

Of all the social media I use, Twitter is the one that best lends itself to conversation. A good way to get started is by asking and answering questions. Here’s one of my favourite Twitter search terms.

‘keyword’ ? -filter:links lang:en

It helps me find the questions that people are asking. Here’s how the search works:

  1. ‘keyword’ I include a keyword, which helps me target a particular market

  2. ? Then I include a question mark. This means I’ll only see Tweets that contains a question. Providing a useful answer can be a good way of starting a conversation

  3. -filter:links I filter out posts that contain links, because they’re often promotional. I’m interested in a genuine conversation, not a sales pitch.

  4. lang:en I only want results in English, because that’s the only language I speak.

When I first discovered this advanced search, I ran a search using ‘SEO’ as my keyword. I could hardly believe it, the first result was a potential client, someone looking for SEO help with their business:

Twitter advanced search

I fired off a Tweet and, within five minutes, I’d received this reply from a site that sells stuff for pampered pooches:

Email reply to Tweet

Which is proof that social media can generate leads (if you’ll forgive the pun).

Twitter advanced search

The easiest way of creating advanced searches is to use Twitter’s advanced search:

A comprehensive list of Twitter search operators

If you use Tweetdeck, Sendible, Hootsuite or other social media management platforms you may not want to use Twitter.com for searching. In which case, here’s a list of Twitter’s advanced search operators. They give you the same filters as Twitter’s advanced search tool, but you can use them within your social media platform’s regular search bar.

 

 

Operator:

What you get:

Eleanor Rigby

Contains both “Eleanor” and “Rigby” in any order. This is the default way of searching.

“Lucy in the sky with diamonds”

Contains the phrase “Lucy in the sky with diamonds”

Hey OR Jude

Contains either “Hey” or “Jude” or both

Twist -Shout

Contains “Twist” but not “Shout”

#Yesterday

Contains the hashtag “#Yesterday”

from:justindeaville

Tweets sent by @justindeaville

to:justindeaville

Tweets sent to @justindeaville

@justindeaville

Tweets that are sent by or mention @justindeaville

“Yellow Submarine” near:Liverpool

Contains the exact phrase “Yellow Submarine” sent near the city of Liverpool

near:”Liverpool” within:15mi

Tweets sent from within 15 miles of Liverpool

Help since:2014-01-20

Contains “Help” and was published after 25th January 2014. The date format is Year-Month-Date

Blackbird until:2014-01-20

Contains “Blackbird” and was published before 25th January 2014

lang:en Contains only English language Tweets

“I saw her standing there” filter:links

Contains the phrase “I saw her standing there” and a link

“Strawberry fields forever” ?

Contains the phrase “Strawberry fields forever” and a question

“All my loving” source:tweetdeck

Contains the phrase “All my loving” and was sent via Tweetdeck

Create your own Twitter feed

You can also take any of those advanced queries and use them to embed a Twitter stream on your website. So, for example, if you’re live blogging at an event you’re attending you could add a live Twitter stream too.

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More Twitter tips

Instead, if you’re interested in more Twitter tips, check out these two articles: