Twitter Search has become the most versatile realtime search engine with the addition of ‘search operators’. When a lot of old technophobes ask me why I’m on Twitter one of the first things I tell them is that it makes an excellent search engine for finding out information in real time. Well it just got awesome with these operators and I will tell you what to use them for.
What are Search Operators?
They are the punctuation and terms you include in your search to narrow down the results into areas, fields or types. Most web search engines have been using them for years and so without further-ado, here is a list of Twitter Search Operators. If you want the full list from the horses mouth just perform a search on Twitter and click for the pop-up on ‘use operators’.
Basic traditional search operators
this OR that
Lady Gaga -Bieber
OK so you knew those, but these are getting clever:
– Search for Tweets I sent mentioning Cheese
– Exclude a users Tweets from results
You are an Idiot To:anphicle
– Tweets directed at me calling me an idiot.
– Get tweets since a certain date (in year-month-day format)
– Tweets from before a certain date
Those are pretty good, but let’s search Twitter like pros.
I sometimes search Twitter for content pointers a lot of times where 140 characters wouldn’t be enough such as good tutorials or news pieces. A lot of the time I search the trending topics but so many people are talking about it the full news behind it gets hidden. Adding filter:links cuts out the opinions and points you in the direction of a credible content source. Sometimes I search for opinions and get links, sometimes I search for links and get opinions, this is where these operators are going to rule.
This one is the best and highlights why Twitter is great for daily life. This would show all Tweets from within 40 miles of London but you could add a keyword in there to narrow down. Say you are looking for a job within 5 miles of home, use [job near:yourtown within:5mi], you will be surprised at what gets listed. In fact what a lot of none-Tweeters would call ‘mundane updates’ from local people make Twitter unique, use it to your advantage. Try [roads near:town] and get descriptive traffic conditions from frustrated drivers. Or just find out about local events and news using these operators.
This returns results where the Tweeter is asking a question. I’ll be honest there aren’t that many times where I would search for somebody asking a question. Perhaps if I was feeling charitable and want to spread some expertise I should. In fact I could use this to spread the message about my blog (or spam), by searching [search Twitter ?] and then handing people who were asking if there was a way to search Twitter better the link to this page. In fact I would recommend all corporate Social Media assistants/experts/consultants/technicians/executives to use this as both customer service and lead generation.
:) or :(
You can now search for Tweets with a good or bad mood too. Try [Rupert Murdoch :)] to see people who think Murdoch is a nice man – I just found 4! Or try the unhappy emoticon to find ugly sentiment tweets, a great way to find genuine opinions of products or services before you part with your money [Sony TV :( ]. Also another good use for how businesses should be tracking consensus. Though many search results show positive and negative adjectives this also works by showing people who have typed the actual emoticon though there is no denying that is descriptive.
Why you would want to search for Tweets from a particular service or client is beyond me, I just thought I would list it to complete the set.
And that is it. Let your imagination go wild. Which useful situations will you find yourself using Twitter as a search engine? If you astound yourself with a use for these search operators let me know in the comments section belooooowwww. Or on Facebook or Twitter. (hat-tip @RWJ). PS not on Facebook. There is only one thing stopping Twitter being fantastic. It should be able to recall Tweets from over 3 days ago. It is 2011 after all.