When it comes to Twitter, it's all about searching for the right information and making sure that the information you've got is right. Here are twelve quick tips for mastering Twitter searches.
Time is of the essence when it comes to managing social media during an incident, emergency or crisis. Having a tweet-cheat-sheet handy will save you time and stress when it really matters.
Let's face it, not every agency has the big bucks to be able to pay for sophisticated social media monitoring tools but that doesn't mean you can't get ahead of the game when it comes to the crunch.
Setting up advanced searches
Make the most of the Twitter Advance Search tool. This is so full of useful search options that you'll wonder how you managed without it. The full lowdown from Twitter is here, but we're going to highlight some of the best below.
1. Filter Tweets by location
Narrowing down to find people who are in your area that are talking about an incident is really handy. That way, you can tell if they're just amplifying content or if what they are saying is actually legitimate and relevant.
Use the Places section of Advanced Search and look up the areas you’d like to focus on. This feature can be extra useful if you pair the search with a couple of keywords. For example: ‘@AnytownPD anytownpd.com near:”anytown, US” within:15mi’
2. Remove all re-tweets from search results
When something big happens, the re-tweets go crazy. It's good to shut down that noise of the thousands of re-tweets that follow the original posts. In this case, simply add “-RT” (minus the quotes) after your keyword.
3. Find photos related to a subject
Much the same as video below, to filter photos search using either Advanced search or toolbar search the and then select Photos from the results page filters.
4. Find video related to a topic
Twitter search provides a great alternative to YouTube Search. To filter videos search using either Advanced search or toolbar search the and then select Videos from the results page filters.
5. View questions only
If you tick the ‘Question ?’ box on the Advanced Search page you will only be shown results that are questions. If you're looking for people who have genuine concerns or inquiries, this is super helpful.
6. Don’t search for 'terms', search things you think people will say
When you’re thinking of which keywords and phrases to use, think about how people talk to each other. People don't talk in terms, they chat and they use colloquialisms, nick names and slang, They mis-spell and mis-type - make sure you do. Think in their shoes, not your own (related: read Why empathy is crucial in modern communications)
7. Find tweets that only contain links
If you want links to outside sources rather than tweets only, add “filter:links” (minus quotes) to your search query.
8. Searching for tweets between certain dates
For example, typing “since:2020-05-20” (minus quotes) after your search will show tweets sent since that date. Similarly, typing “until :2021-05-20” will show tweets sent up to that date.
9. Search for tweets from certain users
Type your search query followed by “from:username” (minus quotes). So, if you want to see all the tweets that have come from the President that contain the word “Emergency,” type “emergency from:@POTUS”
10. Save your searches
Twitter allows you to save up to 25 searches. After a search, click the gear box next to “Results for…” Click “Save Search.” To find your saved searches, in the search bar, simply click once and a drop-down of saved searches appears.
11. Find accounts by keyword AND location
Combining keywords with a location is incredibly powerful if you’re looking to locate accounts or businesses within a certain area. Again, if you want to filter out the noise of what a national or international incident is making then use this option. It's great for local news outlets or influencers that are part of your stakeholders. (related: read Why you need to do a stakeholder mapping exercise)
12. Find happy and un-happy people
Twitter search is a great way to quickly see a snapshot of how happy (or un-happy) people are. By using 'sentiment' you can get an idea of how people are feeling about something. This doesn't always work too well in contentious areas like policing as there are a lot of negative words used in positive situations (think: "well done on solving that murder").
To include sentiment filters in your search, tick the sentiment box on the Advanced Search page or simply add a happy or un-happy emoticon to the end of your search term, e.g. “police :(” or “police :)”.