When it comes to search engines in 2009, most of the buzz has been around ‘Twitter Search’.  Twitter allows you to search for what people are talking about in ‘real time’.

Both Google and Bing have jumped on the ‘real-time’ bandwagon. To start with Google started featuring almost-real-time results from prominent bloggers, and Bing began to surface Tweets from a few well known Twitter accounts. Last week, both separately announced deals to deliver the full Twitter index on their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

But if you know where to look, Twitter Search can give you a lot more than just finding who is using particular keyword. The Twitter Advanced Search Interface lets you search for keywords used in very specific circumstances.

This is what it looks like:


So what can you find out using this form?

To start with, you can specify the context of the keyword that you’re searching with. Do you want to find all mentions of that keyword, or is it more useful to find out instances when it is being Tweeted in conjunction with other keywords?

This would be insightful if you run a B&B and you want to find if you can reach out to anyone on Twitter. There’s probably not much point in searching for ‘B&B’ on its own, since its going to be used so frequently in so many situations. But if you search for ‘B&B’ and your ‘local area’, you might able to identify those people who are looking for your service, and who would appreciate you getting in touch.

It’s also possible to use the form to discover who is mentioning a particular keyword, and which people have this keyword in their @ Tweets. This can help you to monitor how competitors are making use of Twitter. Are they dealing with lots of support issues? Are they getting sales enquiries? Are they being asked prices? Can you learn how to improve your use of Twitter by seeing how they’re doing it?

The form also lets you specify the time frame of the Tweets. You could use this to find out how a news item affected your industry at a specific time. Let’s say that there is a news story about a particular manufacturer and you want to know if they get discussed the next day. This might help you decide whether or not to feature this manufacturer’s products on your homepage. You could also use this feature to find out how your competitors’ use of Twitter has changed over time.

Here’s where the form get interesting: you can search for tweets that have a certain ‘attitude’. Let’s say you wanted to look for all Tweets mentioning a competitor in a negative way. The results will display all Tweets using that keyword with common ‘frowns’  such as ‘:-(‘ and other negative statements. This might show you Twitterers who were unhappy with your competitor, and would therefore be open to an approach from yourself.

Lastly, you can specify the location of Tweets, whether that’s in a particular place or in the surrounding area. At the moment Twitter uses the location given by each user profile; those on the move can include actual coordinates. If you retail from a bricks and mortar premises, you could use this to find out more about the geographic reach of your business. If you knew that people rarely mentioned you more than 50 miles away, you might conclude that your AdWords campaign should be set to only appear within this radius.

Take a look at the Twitter Advanced Search and let us know what you can find out. You can also check out our twitter page here.

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