How to carry out a better Twitter search

Before this post highlights some advanced Twitter Search features it might be better to examine important elements of Twitter Search.

How does Twitter Search work?

Twitter literally searches
For the most part Twitter Search, in 2013, is a literal search engine. In other words if you search for “#socialmedia” it will bring up tweets with the exact hashtag #socialmedia or tweets with the two words “social” and “media” within the same tweet.
Twitter, unlike Google or Yahoo!, does not associate words with synonyms. “media”, for example, is not linked to “electronic” or “medium”.
Minor spellings are okay to make on Twitter because forgetting a missing letter, for instance, will allow Twitter to stem that word thus filling in the missing letter. If, however, several letters are missing then this word will not be stemmed nor will Twitter suggest (though auto-suggestion) what you might have meant.
Twitter can search comfortably for short versions of a word. “dev”, for instance, can be used as a replacement for “development” but “dev” will only stem “dev” not “development” too.
#HashTag search
Hashtag searching is more powerful because it not only searches for the hashtag phrase but each of the words that are contained within the hashtag.
Capitals are ignored so it is best to ignore capitals when searching. It is, however, a good idea to include capitals whenever you write two or more words as hashtags because it is easier for the average user to differentiate words; thus adding to the overall search experience.

Twitter and emotions
Twitter Search ‘gets’ emotions since it is possible to sentiment positive “:)” and negative “:(” tweets. It is also possible to search for questions simply by including the question mark “?” sign in the search box.
Photo of Twitter and Google.

Photo of Twitter and Google. Click image for source.

Twitters’ advanced search features

There is no point in re-inventing the wheel so a list of Twitters’ advanced search features can be found from their website. It is worth noting that using Twitter’s advanced search features allows you to carry out a better real-time, Twitter search.

In summary, however, the following commands can be useful to carry out an advanced Twitter search:

  • -rt (removes retweets from search results)
  • filter:links (searches for tweets with hyperlinks included in them)
  • source:txt (searches for text-only tweets)
  • near:belfast (uses location-based searching to find tweets near Belfast)
  • since:22/05/2013 (will search for tweets that were written from 22nd May 2013. Dots do not work for this feature, for example, 22.05.2013 so use dashes only)

Can you save Twitter searches?

If you regularly carry out a search on Twitter you may save it from Twitter’s advanced settings tab. Details can be found on point two’s hyperlink in the references below.

By Gerald Murphy


  1. Twitter (2013) Can’t find exactly what you’re looking for in search? [Online] [Accessed on 21.05.2013]
  2. Twitter (2013) Saving Searches. [Online] [Accessed on 21.05.2013]

2 responses to “How to carry out a better Twitter search

  1. Great post. I wasn’t aware of some of the search filters and the ability to save a query within Twitter.

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