twitter-marketing-search-operatorsWhether you’re a digital marketer, seeking out valuable market intelligence or leads on Twitter, or just a small business wanting to cut through the 140 character “chatter” then you’ll probably find Twitter operators a godsend.

As Twitter grows ever larger (according to the company’s last official count, there were 200 million regular users), it’s getting harder to filter out the exact information you’re looking for.

However, Twitter search operators are a fantastically underutilised source – by the masses at least – and could help make your Twitter marketing strategy all the more efficient when searching for influential users, finding out who’s talking to who; about what and more.

In this post, I’ll be walking through all of the company’s advanced search operators and explaining how they can be utilised for social media marketing gains.

Twitter search operators
Twitter search operators

twitter search – containing both “twitter” and “search”. This is the default operator.

This is as straightforward as it gets. Just like Google, if you’re looking to generally find a topic based around [content] and [marketing], put the two words into Twitter and roll the dice to see what comes out. You might find this kind of search a little too open, depending on your needs.

happy hour – containing the exact phrase “happy hour”

Now we’re getting a little more specific. Exact-match search will only seek out the words contained within speech marks. Again, like Google, this is when you can really start to drill down and find only Tweets that are relevant to your needs.

Looking for a content marketing blog post to read, or for a guest blogging opportunity? Simple – just search [content marketing “blog post”]

Either/Or queries:

love OR hate – containing either “love” or “hate” (or both)

If you’re on the lookout for a serach that could have multiple variants applicable to you, then the either/or operator is for you.

Let’s imagine in this case you’re looking out for a Twitter marketing blog post, or competitor offering, but also interested in Google+ and Facebook marketing, then this is the perfect search query for you. It’s particularly useful when combined with the exact-match search operator, as below:

[“twitter marketing” OR “facebook marketing” OR “google plus marketing”]
Either Or Twitter search
Either/Or Twitter search

Eliminating words from search query

beer -root – containing “beer” but not “root”

Twitter is a noisy place, as you’ll no doubt know, so cutting out the words you don’t want to appear is very important if you’re looking out for something in particular.

This search, also inspired by Google, will enable you to eliminate non-relevant search queries and is extremely powerful if you find you keep coming across the same kinds of results.

So, in the instance that you’re looking for search queries related to “Google”, but you’re trying to avoid too much chatter about search engine optimisation (SEO), then you might find something like [google -analytics -tools -seo -search] of use.

#haiku – containing the hashtag “haiku”

Hashtags are a great search operator to use because they are created by – and for – other Twitter users.

So if you want to seek out and converse or pitch a new press release to people passionate about #twittermarketing, you can assume the person using that hashtag is very much a part of the inner social circle of influential Twitter users.

Tweets sent from particular users

from:alexiskold – sent from person “alexiskold”

Now we’re getting really serious. If your aim on Twitter is to engage with influential users on the platform, then reading their personal tweets is a great idea. From here you’ll get a feel for what they’re into and how often they reply or reach out to others.

*Note: [from:] is the default operator when you look at a user page

Tweets sent to particular users

to:techcrunch – sent to person “techcrunch”

A similar, but in some ways possibly more telling search to the above, is to see how often a particular Twitter user is spoken to. This search does exactly that and might help inform you about who their friends are online, or what kind of approach works best if you’re looking to forge some sort of partnership, ask a favour, or ask for a retweet.

Tweets to users
Tweets to users search

Twitter user referenced by others

@mashable – referencing person “mashable”

Is your brand, or a competitors, peforming well around the Twittersphere? Are they being mentioned in a good light or a bad one? How often are they being spoken about by others and referenced?

This is the way to find out [@redrocketmedia]

“happy hour” near:”san francisco” – containing the exact phrase “happy hour” and sent near “san francisco”

Want to find out who’s talking about the local business conference? Or where people are meeting after a big show? Twitter’s geographic phrase search can be really useful when you’re trying to target localised events and users.

It’s ideal too for getting a feel of what local users are talking about if you omit a search phrase and simply search [near:portsmouth]

Near “Portsmouth” local Twitter search

*This data is based on both Twitter biographical information and location-enabled Tweets

near:NYC within:15mi – sent within 15 miles of “NYC”

This is another great search query for identifying the target reach of a particular search query; one that you might want to use again when promoting, or following, local news or events.

Tweets since a certain date range

superhero since:2010-12-27 – containing “superhero” and sent since date “2010-12-27″ (year-month-day)

Want to know how much a phrase has been talked about since a certain date range? This one is for you.

This search query can be particularly useful when trying to identify the right hastags or targets within a given time period – especially for those more… niche industries out there.

This query could be a great start to your social media campaign; particularly when it comes to seeing how long your own buzz words hung around for after a particular activity (such as a month-long keyword focus).

Tweets up until a certain date range

ftw until:2010-12-27 – containing “ftw” and sent up to date “2010-12-27″

Just like the above query, you might want to search for Tweets up until a certain date range: [“google marketing” until:2013-04-27]

“Google marketing” Twitter search in April

Positive and negative emotions towards a search query

movie -scary :) – containing “movie”, but not “scary”, and with a positive attitude / flight :( – containing “flight” and with a negative attitude

Admittedly, searching for positive and negative searches via emotions might not be the most useful search query for a digital marketer. However, you might want to use this in combination with a brand term to see if customers are having a good or bad experience with the brand.

traffic ? – containing “traffic” and asking a question.

Offering answers to questions asked on Twitter, or using this string to conduct your own market research, can be really effective ways of building your brand and authority online. Using this search string is also a great way of potentially driving traffic to your site, or another resource. This kind of search could even inspire your next blog post! Example below: [“google marketing” ?]

Searching for questions about
Searching for questions about “Google marketing”

hilarious filter:links – containing “hilarious” and linking to URLs.

Looking for an infographic, news piece, blog item or guest blog opportunity? Using the filter search operator you can quickly rummage through the conversation and get straight to all the linked content provided in Tweets. You can also see your recent brand mentions, if you perform a search like below; so the potential for this kind of search can be greater than simply a linked or not Tweet: [“red rocket media” filter:links]

Red Rocket Media link search on Twitter
Red Rocket Media link search on Twitter

Search query that’s syndicated to Twitter over a feed

news source:twitterfeed – containing “news” and entered via TwitterFeed

If you quickly want to establish who’s regularly posting a certain kind of buzz word through their Twitter profile, then this could be the search for you.

The source:twitterfeed search seeks out all syndicated content to Twitter (via RSS); commonly this will be blog or news posts.

Monitoring this could be a great way of seeing who are the heaviest hitters when it comes to pushing out content; how regularly and about what.

What kind of search operators would you find most useful and why? Leave me a comment, or suggest other helpful Twitter marketing and intelligence tips below!