Refining Your Twitter Search

I recently discovered that about nine out of ten Twitter users I know either do not use Twitter refinements or even know about them in the first place. This is quite odd given that Twitter is quickly becoming (Or may already be) the main source of real time information for fields like entertainment, sports, politics, business and technology.

If a person wants to

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keep track of a certain event (most likely relating to one of the above fields), the most likely scenario will be one of the following:

  1. Follow ‘insiders’: news anchors or analysts who will get the information first. The problem with this is that if you follow a big number of people, some information will get lost in the heavy traffic of tweets.
  2. Follow a #Hashtag: This may prove to be very useful in events like conferences and networking events because it will be promoted by the host. But when it is an event that has the public’s interest, like a political campaign, then you will most certainly miss out on tweets by people who did not use the hash-tag.
  3. Refining your results: This may be the most effective way of keeping constant updates on events of your interest. It combines the first two plus more.

Every Twitter user is able to refine search results; it is quite a simple task, yet one which most people don’t seem to be aware of. The first step in this method would be to search using a given term. Given the time of the year, I decided to put in ‘Holiday’ as a search term. Here are the results:

Over the red line, you will see the refine results option which will take you to the following page:

The search feature for Twitter allows you to use various forms of text manipulation. You can use search for specific words, exact phrases and even filter words. You can do all this using any language from the total of 21 language options!

The people section has three options: from, to, and mentioning these accounts. The first search parameter helps the user know what the experts or influencers (celebrities or people with a lot of followers) are saying. The latter two options are for the user to know what other people are saying about the influencers and experts. The difference between “to these accounts” and “mentioning these accounts” is a little vague. From my own experience the “to these accounts” parameter contains mentions at the beginning or at the middle of a tweet while the “mentioning these accounts” will contain the mention at the end. It seems to be akin to the difference between @mazzouni or cc/ @mazzouni. Even if that may be the case, I question the accuracy of the results. Here are the top three tweets from both:

Results from “to these accounts”:

Results from “mentioning these accounts”:

Last but certainly not least, you can filter results depending on sentiment. Positive tweets may include the words like love and like, it may also include a smiley face J. Negative tweets will include the opposite. What needs to be taken into consideration here is that because Twitter only uses 140 characters, it is close to impossible for it to have the sentiment right every single time. For that reason, Twitter only looks for specific words like love or hate and thus may only generate the top or bottom 5%-10% out of all the tweets on the search query that contain some sentiment.

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The ability to search for questions is an important feature because through it one is able to discern what types of questions are people asking when purchasing a product or even what type of questions are people asking your competitors. Through this process you might be able to intuit a solution, or have one already, that your competitors are struggling with and with which clients are upset about.

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Once you click search, this will come up at the top of your results:

Notice how Twitter uses Boolean logic to refine searches. If you would rather use quick search, it may be beneficial to use a little bit of Boolean in your search query, one or two max.

The proper way to use these features is to always go back and forth until you are satisfied with the results you are getting. The Twitter search refinements are interesting and worth taking a look at and experimenting with. I am sure that some people are using this feature and have ideas on how it can most fully be utilized. Feel free to contribute in the comment section below.


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