How to find the most relevant tweets on a topic using Twitter advanced search

Twitter bird

Everyone knows Twitter is a ridiculously useful source of information on anything and everything, but searching for a popular keyword can result in a relentless stream of updates. Twitter’s advanced search feature allows you to really drill down into the torrent and find the most relevant results.

Advanced search allows you to search by specific keywords, exact phrases or combinations of words, tweets from named accounts, mentions, tweets with a positive or negative tone, or from a specified time period. You can also search geographically, which could be very useful if you are looking for eyewitnesses to a breaking story.

You can also drill down using Twitter’s search box by employing a number of search operators which allow you to search by keyword, location, positive or negative attitude, questions, exact phrases, and tweets sent to or from specified accounts.


Operator Finds…
twitter search Tweets containing both “twitter” and “search”. This is the default operator.
“happy hour” Tweets containing the exact phrase “happy hour”.
love OR hate Tweets containing either “love” or “hate”, or both.
love AND hate Tweets containing both “love” and “hate”.
beer -root Tweets containing “beer” but not “root”.
#haiku Tweets containing the hashtag #haiku
From:alexiskold Tweets sent from @alexiskold
To:techcrunch Tweets sent to @techcrunch
@mashable Tweets referencing @mashable
“happy hour” near:“san franciso” Tweets containing the exact phrase “happy hour” and sent near San Francisco.
Near:NYC within:15mi Tweets sent within 15 miles of NYC.
superhero since:2010-12-27 Tweets containing the word “superhero” sent since December 27 2010 (note the format year-month-day).
ftw until:2010-12-27 Tweets containing “ftw” sent up to December 27, 2010.
movie -scary 🙂 Tweets containing “movie” but not “scary”, and with a positive attitude.
flight 🙁 Tweets containing “flight” and with a negative attitude.
traffic ? Tweets containing “traffic” and asking a question.
hilarious filter:links Tweets containing “hilarious” and linking to URLs.
news source:twitterfeed Tweets containing “news” and sent via Twitterfeed.


You can combine these operators for very specific searches; for example if you are searching for a term like “traffic”, or a local event, you will need to specify a location using the near: operator.

I will look at more ways to mine social networks for information in upcoming posts.