Twitter Search Operators are a great way for social media mangers to proactively grow their communities. Whether it’s a misspelling of your organization’s name or a conversation with a competitor, Twitter Search Operators can lead you to prospective customers who aren’t directly interacting with your brand.

This week during #SproutChat, we discussed the benefits of using social over a traditional search engine and learned how our community is currently using Twitter Search Operators. Find the highlights from our conversation below and catch a full recap on Storify.

Take Advantage of Key Terms and Phrases

Setting up your search operators can be a daunting and somewhat confusing task. If you’re unsure how to structure a search, check out our Twitter Search Operators cheatsheets to native Twitter and Sprout specific search operators. It may take a bit of creativity and some trial and error, but understanding and implementing key terms and phrases will reveal opportunities to connect with consumers you would have otherwise never encountered.

Research Competitors & Prepare to Swoop In

One of the best things about Twitter is that it’s a public forum. As long as a user’s Tweets aren’t private, anyone can view their updates and conversations. Brands can easily keep tabs on the conversations competitors are having with customers. Smart social media managers are listening closely and identifying opportunities to naturally jump in and offer an alternative solution.

While swooping in on a competitor’s Twitter interaction can be effective, it needs to be tactful. An unhappy customer doesn’t want to be sold to after a bad experience. Treat these conversations carefully and build a relationship before pushing your organization’s product or service.

Real-Time Results

From Moments to trend monitoring, Twitter often provides the most up-to-date information on what’s happening in news and pop culture. Using Twitter management tools can help you stay informed and on top of trends. For conversations occurring around niche subjects or events, more advanced search operators will yield the most accurate results. Searching on Twitter as opposed to a search engine eliminates a lot of noise and more quickly directs you to the conversations you’re looking for.

Join us at 2 p.m. CST, Wednesday, March 2, 2016 as we discuss Snapchat marketing strategies with Sprout Social All Star, Chris Mikulin.