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Using advanced Twitter search queries

Looking for Twitter analytics? Look no further than Twitter analytics from Union Metrics. We provide powerful real-time Twitter analytics for social media marketers. We even have a free TweetReach report if you want to try it out!

Looking for information about how to use advanced queries in your Twitter searches? Read on.

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 - babyanimalpics
    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 – @babyanimalpics
    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:babyanimalpics
    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:babyanimalpics
    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, so if you run a report for each day of a campaign using date filters, you can find more total tweets.

social media since:2015-07-12

social media until:2015-07-08

You can use one or both filters in a query. These dates are inclusive and correspond to the UTC time zone. And no matter what, snapshot reports can only go back five days, so you still can’t use these filters to access older tweets.

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

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 an exact phrase (e.g. “making bacon pancakes”)

This way you’ll only get back tweets talking specifically about making bacon pancakes, 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)

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 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. And definitely run free TweetReach reports to test out your more complex queries and see what kinds of tweets they find. Or if you want more advanced analytics, look at our Union Metrics Twitter analytics subscriptions.

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