Lately i have caught myself using Twitter search almost as much as Google. It has become an important tool for finding news and information in areas that interest me. If, for some reason, you are not familiar with Twitter search, you can find it at search.twitter.com, but they have already announced they were integrating Twitter search with the main platform, so it seems like a good time to learn more about it.
Twitter search works pretty much the same as Google or any other search engine, you simply type in what you want to search for and Twitter will find all of the tweets that contain that keyword. A really cool thing about Twitter search is that, you can subscribe to the results in your feed reader, simply by clicking the RSS button in the upper-right hand corner of every result page.
If you want to refine your search with additional options, you can use a number of different operators to get better results. There’s a nice list of all the operators you can use with the search at search.twitter.com/operators. If you don’t want to type the operators, or if you simply prefer filling out a form, Twitter has put up a really nice page where you can literally see all of the different ways you can search Twitter. You can find advanced Twitter search features at search.twitter.com/advanced.
I will not go into detail of every operator, but will show you the most useful ones you should get comfortable with.
The hashtag is probably the most important function of Twitter search, and the most used too. Hastags are tags used to identify tweets related to a certain conversation. You can either use the hashtag feature of the advanced search or just type #tag into a regular Twitter search. For instance, if you type in #FollowFriday, you will get all the conversations about this topic.
Search for @reply to find replies to you or to find out who is talking about you. Just put the @ in front of your username in Twitter search and it will show you all the replies and conversations that mention your name. You can subscribe to this feed as well, helping you keep track of who is retweeting and replying to you.
The minus sign is very simple, but useful. Works the same as in Google or any other search engine. If your search brings up irrelevant results you can filter out the irrelevant results by using the minus sign.
Local search is where Twitter really shines. If you’re looking for something at a specific location, let’s say London, just search near:london and you will get all the results nearby.
Another great thing is search in time periods. This lets you narrow down your search to a specific timeline. To limit results to a certain timeframe, use the operatorssince: and until:. Format the dates as YYYY-MM-DD.
Well, Twitter is not the best search engine, but is one of the best tools for keeping on top of relevant news. Even if you don’t use Twitter, it can be a very useful search engine. It’s great to get blogging ideas too. Oh, and one more tip – searches are case insensitive, so don’t worry about how you type it – just be sure to spell it correctly.