How To Use Twitter’s Advanced Search To Drive More Business Leads

To most marketers, Twitter represents a world of opportunities. Research suggests companies who use Twitter generate two times the number of leads per month of those who don't, making it a no brainer whether to use it or not. Companies use Twitter to improve customer support, find ways to improve their business, get free exposure for their business and to find more leads. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

But Twitter's size also presents a challenge. With more than 6 000 tweets sent every second, the Twitterverse is vast and moves at an incredible pace. Identifying marketing opportunities can sometimes be like finding a needle in a haystack moving at 200 mph.

Enter Twitter's advanced search. If you know how to use this tool effectively, it can function as a social search engine for you brand. While the social network's basic search tools can sometimes struggle to find exactly what you are looking for, the advanced search function is excellent at finding specific people, tweets and businesses. This can save you many hours of searching through a sea of irrelevant tweets to find the ones useful to your company. In essence, Twitter's advanced search options are a gateway to free quality leads.

This is a guide on how to use Twitter advanced search on any device, including effective ways to use it to grow your business.

Why should you use Twitter advanced search?

The simple answer is, it will make your life as a marketer so much easier and save you a lot of time. Essentially, you want to use Twitter to find out where potential customers are, what people are saying when they are talking about your brand and how to engage people to get them to buy your product, right?

So, while many Twitter users might be talking about your company or products, they might not be tagging you in their posts by using the @ symbol or, even if they are, with literally hundreds of millions of tweets sent every day, they might simply be getting lost in the crowd.

Using advanced search makes it easy for you to find those tweets.

How to use Advanced Search

Enter your search term into the search bar on Twitter. At the top of the results page, click on "More options" and then click "Advanced search". This will open Twitter's advanced search page where you can search in various combinations of search filters to get the exact results you are looking for to optimize your search for business leads.

Here are some tips on how to use advanced search to find exactly what you are looking for.

Search for usernames

If you want to find users who are potential customers, do an advanced search for usernames to track mentions. You do this by entering 'to:' or 'from:' before a username. The 'to:' search will show you all the tweets sent to the username you have searched. For instance, if you search "to:InfluencerMH" the search function will reveal all the tweets the were sent to Influencer Marketing Hub. Similarly, if you search for "from:InfluencerMH" you will see all the tweets Influencer Marketing Hub has sent.

If you want to find out if Influencer Marketing Hub has sent any tweets about how to generate more leads, you can tweet "from:InfluencerMH lead generation" and Twitter will find all the tweets Influencer Marketing Hub has sent on this topic.

Once you've found tweets that were sent to you or relevant tweets from specific accounts you can start engaging with those users to start the conversion journey from lead to paying customer. It really is a simple as that.

This function is also useful if you want to find out what people are saying to your competitors or asking them. You may, for example, find that a user is unsatisfied with one of your competitor's products, which gives you the opportunity to connect with them and offer them a promo code or way to try your product instead.

Remember to save your searches so you can use them again later. This way you don't have to do the same search again later and you can keep an eye on what people are saying about certain brands – be it yourself or your competitors. Saving a Twitter advanced query which includes your brand name, as well as common misspellings and your website is a good start to monitoring your mentions more diligently. Twitter allows each account to save up to 25 searches.

Search by tweet content

The easiest way to find potential customers is through looking at their tweets. Most people who tweet about a specific or niche topic to market their product by offering a solution to a certain problem will include a link to their product or website. In contrast, people who tweet about certain topics without including links are likely looking for a solution to a problem. These are the people you want to engage.

If you are smart, you'll study those tweets that are without links in your industry or niche. You can do this by adding -HTTP -HTTPS to your search queries. For example, search "lead generation" -HTTP -HTTPS. Or you can type the "HTTP, HTTPS" without the quotes into the "None of these words" box on the advanced search page.

Sentiment searches

Now that you know how to effectively find mentions of your brand, you also want to know how people feel about your product. The easiest way to do this, is to enter the name of your product or brand by adding emoticons such as ":)" and ":(" in advanced search.

Also search for your brand name with a question mark to find any questions people might have about your product. This way you can give great customer service to already existing customers (or steers potential customers in the right direction). Prioritize your followers/customers' issues with advanced searches of your account handle and terms such as "help," "support", "fix". You can answer with the relevant information and/or post a link to your business website. This is great customer service and a good way to convert leads to customers.

It's also useful to know what people are talking about in the broader context of your industry. For instance, if you are promoting a certain cell phone, you also want to know what people are saying about your competitors, both negative and positive, so you can learn from that and utilise the opportunities it presents. It's important to always read these tweets in context as a question about a computer can be asking about a whole range of things, including computer software, hardware, security, etc.

Remember that you can filter you search results according to top tweets, most recent tweet, photos, videos, people, news or broadcasts related to your search phrase.

Location searches

If you own a small business that serves people in a certain area you really don't need to analyze tweets from around the world. For example, if you own a coffee shop in New York, you could design your search to sift through the thousands of tweets by tourists asking for recommendations on where to get the best cup of coffee and direct them to your business. Do this by entering a keyword related to your industry (like "Cappuccino") and add "near:(your location) within:(30 mi)" to find potential customers. 'Near' is the area you want to target, and 'within' is the parameter or distance surrounding the area. For example, search near:"London" or within:30mi which would bring up everything within a 30 miles distance around London area.

Searching by location can also be useful for tracking Twitter interactions before, during and after events or conferences. By specifying a location, you make sure that you are looking at posts from people at the event itself as opposed to those just tweeting about it.

It literally is as easy as that to find new customers. Helping users with questions about your product builds your online reputation, an added bonus to using sentiment searches.

Search by parameter

Monitoring what the influencers in your industry are talking about and integrating them into your marketing strategy will give you a good idea of what works and what doesn't in terms of generating leads.

Searching by parameters such as retweets or likes can help you do just that.

To do this you can use the hashtag you are looking for alongside the operator "min_retweets:10", for example, to see recently tagged posts that got at least ten retweets. You can increase that number to see who is getting the most shares in your space. This will then allow you to see what they're tweeting and how their followers react to it. Often, you'll discover the leads in the comments threads to popular tweets, where you can engage users by answering their questions and giving advice. Try to be as organic about this as possible. Anyone can spot a marketer a mile away, so be clever in the way you engage users and make it conversational or quirky, rather than looking like you're trying to sell a product.

Exclude irrelevant results

The original issue with using Twitter to generate business leads is that the platform is so vast that it can be hard to find what you are looking for. Excluding irrelevant results is therefore at the heart of the problem you are trying to solve with Twitter's advanced search.

The exclusion filter cuts out the search results you don't want to see. You can use this by adding in the (-) symbol before a keyword, filter or Twitter user.

For example, if you want to find users who are talking about cameras but you don't want to see tweets from a competitor (Sony), just search for 'camera' -sony. This will refine your search results to exclude all tweets about Sony cameras.

You can also use this operator to find tweets without links. To do this, add '-filter:links' to your search.

Create hashtags

If you're able to build a campaign around a hashtag, you can also use that as a filter to drive leads. While platforms like Instagram encourage the use of many hashtags, it's best to only use one hashtag on Twitter, research shows. Come up with a creative hashtag for your brand and use it in most of your tweets.

A successful example of this is Coca-Cola's #ShareACoke campaign. The brand used this hashtag campaign, along with personalized Coca-Cola bottles, to encourage sharing and gifting of Coca-Cola bottles. The hashtag gained global traction. There is a double advantage to using hashtags based on thorough research with the right hashtag analytics tools. It allows your customers to generate marketing for you for free, as well as allowing you to search later to interact with Twitter users.

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Benefits of social media monitoring

The reality of marketing in today's world is that the modern customer wants to communicate with your company in the easiest way possible. The solution to every possible problem is just a Google search away and if your company is not where potential customers are, you are going to lose their business to whoever comes up first in Google search. Too many businesses do not see, never mind respond to customer questions or concerns online. If you're only tracking tag mentions, you're inevitably going to miss out on opportunities to engage your customers.

Don't put yourself in a position where customers are talking about you instead of with you. When brands do social media monitoring right, they unlock opportunities for social conversation and lead generation. Customers feel more appreciated and more inclined to do business with you when they're able to easily search, find and respond to conversations about your brand.

Monitoring the Twitter landscape can be challenging, but advanced search does make it easier and knowing how to use it properly will give your business the edge it needs.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.