Let’s talk Twitter.

Twitter represents a treasure trove of information and opportunities for brands to engage with fans and followers.

That is, if you know to navigate Twitter advanced search and the platform’s various search operators.

The beauty of Twitter is that it’s a platform that’s fair game for brands in just about any industry. It’s also one of the most straightforward for businesses to master when it comes to customer service and engagement.

Twitter isn’t without its roadblocks for brands, though.

The big one? Twitter moves at an absolutely insane pace.

With over 8,000 tweets blasted into the Twitterverse every second, it’s easy to lose track of particular post and interactions.

To help wrangle your brand’s most important real-time interactions, we’ve put together a quick guide breaking down how to make the most of Twitter’s advanced search features. These tips and tactics might be total eye-openers if you’ve never taken advantage of them before.

Read on to find out what Twitter advanced search is and how to use it strategically for your brand.

What is Twitter advanced search?

Beyond a straight-up hashtag search, trying to find what you’re looking for with a normal Twitter search is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Twitter advanced search makes the platform more akin to a social search engine. Starting here, you can comb through billions of tweets based on specific parameters.

Twitter advanced search highlights parameters to narrow your search results
  • All of these words (results include all terms searched)
  • This exact phrase (results will only include “exact match” terms)
  • Any of these words (results includes all any combination of search terms)
  • None of these words (removes results based on these terms)
  • These hashtags (results include specific #hashtags)
  • Written in language (results are pulled from a specific language)
  • To these accounts (results only specify tweets sent to a particular @account)
  • Mentioning these accounts (results highlight any @account mentioned)
  • Near this place (results are confined to a 15-mile specified by the user)
  • From this date (results are produced from a specific date range)

Let’s look at Twitter advanced search in action.

Here’s was the first result that popped up for #WorldSeries. Topical and viral, it’s no secret why this particular post topped the search results.

But let’s say I’m interested in something a bit more specific about the World Series. Running an advanced search that includes the #WorldSeries tag and includes the terms “stats,” “average,” or “statistics,” I can zero in on tidbits of info like this:

See how that works?

At a glance, you can probably see how Twitter advanced search can help you tap into finding specific Tweets or real-time information.

For example, let’s say we remember that somebody made a really good point during a recent #SproutChat but can’t pinpoint the specific date. By specifying a date range, we can dig through comments from the most recent sessions to find what we were looking for.

Twitter advanced search allows brands to find specific interactions with fans, followers and customers

What about Twitter search operators?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of advanced search, we need to talk for a moment about Twitter search operators.

The platform’s standard operators work similarly to Twitter advanced search but can be entered into the normal search function.

For example, let’s say you’re planning a Disney vacation and have a family member with dietary restrictions. Maybe you want to see what the Twitterverse’s experiences with Disney’s dining options, so you search “Disney” and “allergy” (in quotations, separately) to score some real-time information and feedback.

There are a number of Twitter search operators and queries out there that brands can use for everything from customer service to competitive research. Whether you use these operators in the standard search field or the advanced search UI comes down to your preferences.  If you’d like a handy reminder your options for Twitter search operators, check out the cheatsheet below.

And hey, that leads us right into our next section.

How brands can use Twitter advanced search

From a marketing perspective, there are tons of advantages to using Twitter advanced search.

Want to be more diligent amount monitoring your mentions?

Or are you interested in your industry’s top-performing content across Twitter?

If so, you need to familiarize yourself with a few particular Twitter advanced search tactics and operators. Below are some examples that brands should familiarize themselves with.

1. Spot positive customer comments

Brands are rightfully concerned about their reputation to fans and followers.

You can conduct a surface-level sentiment analysis via advanced search by tacking on emoticons such as “:)” and “:(” when searching your brand on Twitter. These mentions are prime examples to either share user-generated content or response to an unhappy customer.

2. Monitor conversations between customers and brands

Maybe you had an interaction with a fellow brand that you or want to highlight.

Or perhaps you’re trying to recall a back-and-forth conversation between yourself and a customer.

Searching by account makes finding those interactions so much easier. For example, the folks at Brafton often offer some nuggets of wisdom during our #SproutChat sessions. Through advanced search, finding those comments doesn’t require any digging.

3. Find relevant industry influencers

Want to know who the biggest players in your industry?

Or who’s content is totally killin’ it?

Searching by parameters such as retweets or favorites can help you do just that.

Here’s an example of a recent social roundup we found through the #smm hashtag. Using the hashtag alongside the operator “min_retweets:10,” we can see recent tagged posts that got at least ten retweets. That number could likewise be bumped up to see who’s scoring the most shares in your space.

4. Discover educational industry content

How-to and educational content is all the rage in just about any industry.

Including “how to” as part of your query alongside a relevant keyword or tag, you can see what’s next and cook up some relevant content ideas of your own.

5. Never miss another mention

Spoiler alert: not everyone talking about you online is taking the time to tag you.

Saving a Twitter advanced query which includes your brand name, common misspellings and your website is a good start to monitoring your mentions more diligently.

Sleeping on such an interaction could be bad news for your business, especially if it’s a customer complaint on the line.

6. Zero in on customer questions and concerns

As noted, Twitter is the go-to channel for customer support.

To prioritize your fans’ issues, advanced searches including your @account and terms such as “help,” “support” and service can help clue you in on anyone having a problem. Additionally, you can tack on a question mark (“?”) to that query to spot anyone who has a question for you.

7. Pinpoint fans and followers by location

Searching by location is especially important for tracking interactions before, during and after events or conferences.

Specifying a location ensures that you’re seeing posts from people at the event itself rather than those just talking about it.

Twitter advanced search is useful for real-time updates on any given event

Getting more out of Twitter advanced search

Even though Twitter allows you to use search operators for complex searches including @mentions, hashtags, keyword groups and exclusions, there are more operators out there to narrow down the search even more.

This means that you need to have a strategy for not only figuring out relevant searches for your brand but also organizing them.

That’s where Sprout Social’s Smart Inbox and Keyword Search tools help you find exactly what you’re looking for on Twitter, while putting everything together in a single-stream inbox. Through Sprout, you can also save your search results in the platform so you remember which operators were the most successful at bringing you to your audience.

sprout brand keyword

Again, let’s say you want to do a deep dive of relevant industry content on Twitter

Through Sprout’s API, you can search for content that is either related to your industry or that mentions your brand name in the URL. These searches are great to see what businesses or blogs are talking about you. Additionally, it can help you find what influencers are saying in your industry.

You always want to know what others in your field are saying so you can stay abreast of trends and news to create your own content. Sprout’s Twitter management tools can be used for “how-to” searches associated with a major keyword in your industry. For example, you could use the operator:

(how to (social media engagement OR twitter engagement))

This will help you discover stories about engagement and social media content while staying in your Sprout single-stream inbox.

twitter search operators can help streamline your feed so that you only see relevant content

Twitter advanced search for local businesses

With Sprout’s advanced keyword search, you enter a Twitter keyword and simply click “near this place” in the right menu on the messages tab to enter a location and mileage near that specific area. This will help you get as specific as you want with the location you’re monitoring. You can search keywords like “hungry,” “recommendation,” “restaurant” and “food.”

Searching terms locally cuts through the noise of Twitter

Then, you can easily select the “near this place” category to find tweets near that location about the above keywords without all the noise of other tweets.

Searching by location makes it easier to hone in on your target audience on Twitter

If you were looking to host an event in a different city, these types of searches could help you find what people are saying about your brand before and after the event and in that specific location.

Why brands must step up their social monitoring

Here’s some food for thought: modern customers want to reach out to your company in the easiest way possible.

The problem is many companies are not seeing or responding to those who have questions or concerns. If you’re solely tracking tag mentions, you’re inevitably missing out on opportunities to engage with your customers.

Don’t put yourself in a position where customers having conversations about you instead of with you. When brands value social media monitoring, they’re opening the door for the social conversation. This means customers will feel more appreciated when you’re able to easily search, find and respond to conversations about your brand.

Monitoring the Twitter landscape can be challenging, but with Sprout’s reporting features, you can collect contextual insight on topics, hashtags and trending Tweets that surround your business.

To get your feet wet in social monitoring, try Sprout Social for free for 30 days!