HOW TO: Use Twitter’s Advanced Search Features

header-bestThere’s an astonishing amount of information to be gleaned from mining the amazing real-time stream of information TwitterTwitterTwitter

provides. Twitter searchtweetzi Twitter Searchtweetzi Twitter Search

is an extremely powerful way of turning up some of those answers. Even using only plain text queries can turn up lots of valuable information about what people are talking about right now.

But you can go even deeper than plain text queries. They’re not too well publicized, so it’s all too easy to forget they even exist. We wanted to jog your memories and highlight a few of the cool advanced operators that can help you turn up sometimes surprising results.

Twitter’s Advanced Search Interface


For folks who prefer the easy-to-use web form approach to advanced search, head on over to Twitter’s Advanced Search interface. Here you can drill down your queries in very specific ways, including searching within date ranges, looking for tweets from or to specific people, referencing specific people, or written in various languages, and more.

One of the more interesting features here is the ability to look at tweets with specific “attitudes” — looking for positive tweets will turn up posts including a range of common smilies, indicating the overall tone of the tweet was positive. Looking for negative tweets conversely finds tweets featuring a range of frowns.

You can also look for tweets in certain locations, and set a range of how many miles to include in the search radius. Right now this is using the location specified by each user in his or her profile, but imagine how much more accurate and interesting these searches will be once the option to allow Twitter to see your actual location is implemented.

Advanced Search Operators


For those who love a good syntax, live in their text editors, have a background in programming or just like the productivity gains from learning the power tools — these advanced search operators are for you.

They give you the same filters available from the advanced search interface we looked at in the previous section, but make them usable right from within the regular Twitter search bar.

For example, invoke a Boolean “or” search with the operator “OR” and invoke a “not” flag with the minus sign (-). Looking for positive or negative attitude tweets can be invoked by simply using the smilies :) or :( . Location operators include “near:” and “within:” — the latter sets the radius over which the search is performed.

To look only for tweets that contain URLs, use the operator “filter:links” and to look for updates from a specific source, use the syntax “source:TweetdeckTweetDeckTweetDeck

” and replace Tweetdeck with the third-party app you’re looking for, or “txt” to search only messages that came via SMS.

Check out the full list of operators.

Saved Searches


Any query you can dream up, you can save for easy later retrieval. On your Twitter home interface, the right-hand sidebar has a small search box built-in. When you run a query from this search bar, you will get an option at the top right of the results to save the search string for later.

Once you save a search, it will show up in the “Saved Searches” area of your Twitter home underneath the search bar. You can run the query again quickly any time with one-click from this interface. To remove a saved search, simply click it to run it again and click the “Remove this saved search” link at the top right of the results.

Search Widgets


You can also take any of those advanced queries and use them to make a persistent Twitter search badge for your own blog or web site. As in the example above, you could give your readers a window into an event you’re attending, or keep them up to date on a specific hashtag, tweets about a certain topic from a specific geographic location — or anything your creative search mind can come up with.

This is just a brief introduction to get you started in the wide and wooly world of advanced Twitter search. Do you have any other great Twitter search tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

More Resources from Mashable

6 Twitter Search Services Compared
5 Terrific Twitter Research Tools
HOW TO: Use Twitter Hashtags for Business
15 Fascinating Ways to Track Twitter Trends

I must admit to have not really looked into Twitter search much yet but this very detailed and helpful post has whetted my appetite to investigate this myself now.

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